Trump Withdraws From Paris Agreement
Trump continues to show the world how stupid he is. Nothing seems to unite the rest of the world so much as the realization that America’s new President’s just ridiculous. And nothing seems to confirm his ridiculous nature so much as his own mouth.
Now we are not just alone, we are alone with those who deny climate change is real. But who is to say it is? In 1955 Charles Keeling first reported measuring Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide levels at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. Since Keeling’s first reading of 310 parts per million the level has risen steadily, with only seasonal variation, to over 410 parts per million. On this scale, even 1 part per million is significant.
Within a few years it was obvious that the levels measured were increasing with the passage of time. Explaining the increase was, at first, hard. Scientists virtually everywhere thought it would be a constant. That’s sort of why they chose Hawaii as the place to make the first observations. Hawaii was thought to be remote enough to be beyond the influence of humanity’s habit of burning fossil fuels. There was some debate, at first, whether something else might be going on, but eventually virtually all scientists agreed that what was happening was that the content of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere worldwide was increasing.
Partly because of these observations and that conclusion, a great deal of work has occurred to confirm the role of Carbon Dioxide as a so called “greenhouse gas.” Greenhouse gases are so named because their presence in the atmosphere has the same effect, relative to heat transference, as does putting the entire region inside a greenhouse. In a greenhouse the glass of the walls and roof lets the rays of the sun pass through without converting much of the light to heat. The light then strikes something solid in the greenhouse, where it is converted to all sorts of things, some of which is heat. But, because the heat, when converted to the air, cannot escape the greenhouse (in most cases) the entire inside of the greenhouse gets much warmer. Greenhouse gases play a role much like the glass walls and roof. They trap a lot of the sun’s heat energy on the surface of the Earth.
As soon as scientists agreed that the increase in Carbon Dioxide was real and worldwide, they knew we were in trouble. Almost everything that can be imagined to happen as a result of the Earth getting warmer causes it to get warmer still. For example, as permafrost thaws, methane is released, itself a potent greenhouse gas.
The obvious cause of the increase in Carbon Dioxide was mankind’s delight at burning things. But scientists don’t like naming a cause just because it is obvious. It has taken quite a few years before agreement was, mostly, reached on this issue, but agreement has been reached, at least amongst scientists. The Earth is warming, and humans are the cause. Donald Trump’s denial not-withstanding.
One of the results of worldwide heating is the melting of ice at the poles and at elevation. From that the sea will rise. How much and how soon are currently under study, but our record at judging such things is dismal. We are repeatedly being surprised at how quickly climate is changing.
This is typical of a very strong bias which I have seen in the scientific community: no one wants to say climate change is as bad as it probably is. And that may be just as well, for it may be beyond our ability to find a viable solution. And no scientist worth his salt is going to admit he has a problem to which he can’t find a solution. Panic is what we all fear, I think.
So, sea level rise, and the other evils that go with climate change, may come surprisingly soon. For sure, the scientific community has not gotten the general public to recognize the potential danger within the phrase “climate change.”
At what point, though, do we have to say. “look, this is killing us.” At what point do we have to point out that drastic measures have got to be taken? These things will require time to fix. If we wait too long, it will be too late.