Monday, June 7, 2010

Global dumbness

I recently read some objections to the concept of human-caused global warming that were too empty-headed to bear repeating, but that got me thinking. How to get through?

The first thing is to say, yes, the geological history of the Earth is filled with great temperature fluctuations. Far greater than anything being experienced now. Huge cooling came from gigantic volcanoes or hits from sizable asteroids that darkened the skies, causing ice ages, and warming came from a lack of such things, coupled with earthly orbit wobbles and variations in solar output. But all that misses the point.

The point is that every civilization on this planet arose well after the last ice age. Changes in climate prior to that time simply aren't part of the argument. (To be sure, early man was affected by the last ice age. And surely hunter-gatherer clans retreating from a colder north had conflicts with those to the south. Many must have died. But there was no global civilization to fall apart.)

Now, of course, there is. And we haven't had any giant volcanoes, huge asteroid hits, (or nuclear wars), to cool things, nor any reasons to think that orbit wobbles or solar variations are to blame for any warming. It is happening way too quickly.

Instead, the obvious culprit is none other than human-caused changes to the make-up of the atmosphere. It's a no-brainer.

Some 25 years ago or more, when the concept of global warming was being born, I was asked by my editor to write a story about how warming would effect our country. Of course I knew the assignment was stupid. Nobody knew, the variables were endless, etc. But back then there wasn't even a Google to turn to. I went to the library, found a book with a bunch of wavy lines across the country denoting equal temperatures in a given season, boosted them by a few degrees, and wrote a story. (Hey, you have to choose your battles.)

Now, a quarter-century later, we know that by the time our grandkids or great grandkids are around, huge spaces now occupied by people are likely to be either deserts or under water, causing gigantic migrations of a billion or more people. Conflicts, anyone?

Sorry, kids, but we felt we had to listen to Rush Limbaugh.

No comments:

Post a Comment