Monday, February 15, 2010

Are you laughing at “Global Warming?”

I remember many a time, laughing at the experts for shouting “Global Warming” when the summer or some winter was colder than usual. But after hearing about it enough, my muse got hold of it and ran with it. From 2005 to 2007, I researched the topic of global warming for my Rise of the Arcadians, published in 2008. When I say researched, I don’t mean a quick trip to Wikipedia. No, I dug up scientific articles, studied past climates, researched into ancient cultures and what their lives (and climates) had been like. I went back in history to Pangea and followed things forward to present day. Everything I found, I backed up with two or three sources. National Geographic and the Smithsonian magazines were good jumping off points. Unfortunately my overworked mind hasn’t fully retained all of it, but I knew it when I wrote the story.

I created Rise of the Arcadian’s setting in 2122, years after the world fell apart, but the world the story encased was built strongly on my hours and hours of research. Each change I made to my future Earth was made on the basis of some fact or some slight twist of fact, but all of it was “this is possible” stuff. I studied topographical maps to guesstimate where water levels might rise, found fault lines to help me shape my world. The Mississippi Sea in the book is very possible if ocean levels rise – which is also very possible if all our ice melts. The cold climate – Earth has cycled through ice ages since its beginning. Its not going to stop simply because we humans are here and want it to. Places in our North American continent, the Sahara desert, were very much different at one time. And we have that oceanic conveyor belt ( that could slow down if enough cold fresh water floods into our oceans.

I also researched Earth’s ice ages. ( Many have happened. Do we really believe they’ve just stopped because we’re here or that we have the power to control them? It is related to the Earth’s tilt on the axis, the wobble (we are not a perfect spinning top in space) and many other variables. Earth also makes enough of those nasty greenhouse gases we all hear about all on its own. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be more responsible. We absolutely, positively should, as we have just this one world (that we know of) to call home, so we best take care of it.

Nothing irritates me more than to hear some expert claim something of some past time couldn’t be possible because the current conditions wouldn’t support it. They have found whale skeletons in the Sahara. ( Can’t get much more different from then to now, can we? Things have changed on Earth tremendously and it is still changing. We shouldn’t sit and argue about whether it is happening or not or what is causing it or not. We should simply acknowledge change is imminent. Now, a hundred years from now, who knows, but our Earth won’t always be as it is right now or even as it has been since our recorded history.

So, how does it all relate to global warming and how does global warming possibly relate to the fact we’ve had a record of all 48 connecting US states having snow on the ground for the same day this year? To put it simply: Dump an ice cube in a hot cup of tea. You heat up and melt the ice, but what happens to the tea? It won’t stay hot – will it? Despite the fact the ice was “heated up” the tea gets cold. That is how global warming could lead to so much snow or even an ice age. Climate change.

Whether our glaciers and icebergs are melting at an alarming speed or not, and whether we are causing it or not, is not what I’m disputing. I’m simply saying it can and most likely (due to past cycles) will happen again. Ice ages are natural. Shifting tectonic plates are natural. Disasters are natural, and they are happening (Haiti’s earthquake, the 2004 tsunami, Katrina, the recent snow storms, droughts in the western US, Australia, and that’s just to name a few).

It does no good to fear it but it does equally no good to deny and ignore it. We should be aware of the ride we are along for and prepare ourselves that life does not go on unchanged. We are not masters of our Earth. In fact, I often wonder just how little we really know. For all our experts and great accomplishments, there are so many things we still can’t answer but are quick to dismiss and ignore because we can’t answer them.

The bottom line is, don’t laugh off or dismiss global warming until you really understand it. Maybe it should have been labeled “global climate change.” Then maybe it would have made more sense to those of us who don’t or didn’t fully understand it at first.

I’m not writing this to lecture, or providing the links here as absolute fact. They are just quick things I found to hopefully help people understand things. If you wish to learn more, I suggest searching for the answers in trusted places yourself and be aware of the arguments you will find on things. Build your own conclusions with good knowledge and facts.

We would do good to show modesty and understand, for as advanced as we think we are, there are many more things we simply have not or cannot yet grasp. We as a species tend to believe we are intelligent and know it all, then go in and destroy or warp things to our use with no regards to what we might be destroying in our ignorance. We have but this one world to take care of and leave for the children of the future. Let us be responsible enough to acknowledge there is much we don’t know and tread carefully as our understanding grows. And most of all, let us be aware of what changes are possible so that we may better handle what Earth throws at us as it continues on its cycle of life.