There Are Always Consequences
By David Moss
The phone rang a few minutes ago. My friend said he was canceling our lunch together. “It was just too cold,” he told me, “to go out.” We made the usual global warming jokes and wondered who had had the bright idea to hold an international meeting on global warming, in Copenhagen during a northern European winter. Not only did Europe experience seriously cold weather but President Obama had to rush back to Washington before record breaking snows covered the eastern United States. And it has just gone on getting colder with more and more snow.
There were no binding agreements made in Copenhagen, to reduce carbon in the atmosphere; but when the spin-meisters had their turn, you would have thought great progress had been made. Although the spin-meisters did not take claim for it, the extreme cold wave did coincide with the meeting on global warming. What is interesting is that our earth, all by itself, had decided that some extra cooling was due this winter. And this was not the first time!
Just a few hundred years ago during the Medieval Warm Period, temperatures were higher than they are today. Then around the mid 1300s the Little Ice Age began and lasted to around 1850. A 500-year time span. Popular winter festivals were held on the frozen River Thames in London, England; while in the US one could walk from lower Manhattan Island, on the ice, to Staten Island. Mother Nature then switched from this cold period and the current warm period began.
It has taken our world some 150 years to reach the current degree of warming. How long could it take for our scientists to show proof that our world is actually cooling once carbon pollution begins to be reduced? Politicians and their policies are by their nature short term. Remember it took 150 years for the current warming period to reach this level. So what could go wrong?
For one, it could turn out that carbon levels in the atmosphere have only a minimal effect on global temperatures. Mother Nature and the presence or absence of sun spots are probably major players in the cyclical cooling and warming of our planet.
One has to admire the scientists who talk about controlling the carbon in the atmosphere to reduce global temperatures by one or two degrees. They must be kidding. Right? To believe that humans can micromanage the climate, so accurately, demands a level of faith greater than imagination or common sense can credit. If they should succeed however, and world temperatures go down about 3 degrees, then perhaps we can throw some carbon up into the air to warm it up a bit.
It is important to keep in front of one’s mind that when thinking about reversing global warming, which has been with us for some 150 years, that any changes, when and if they occur, could be as low as one hundredth of a degree each year. An amount so small that it could not be accurately measured or taken into consideration, especially when to all other appearances global warming was continuing as usual.
And of course there are always consequences. The International Community might actually expect countries, provinces and states to reach their mandated lower levels of carbon that they put into the atmosphere. China has a serious problem, in part, because the United States has shipped so much of its industrial production to China from the US. Very clever, these American CEOs. All the time we were thinking they were only interested in making products for less money, while all the time they were really exporting carbon pollution! Countries with a high-birth rate and a large population could encourage their citizens to move elsewhere.
Lowering carbon emissions by a percentage point or two may not be too difficult to achieve. But what happens then? What draconian measures will need to be enacted as politicians realize that getting carbon levels down is very difficult and the world just goes on being warm?
Then the mandated lower levels of carbon kick in and the International Community insists on action. First will come the warnings to reduce the level of carbon pollution. Then sanctions will have to be enacted for non-compliance. And lastly military action against the offending country.
Will we go to war with China to get them to reduce their pollution? Will we bomb the offending smoke stacks? Will we avoid bombing the factories that make our cars, our refrigerators, our toys, our televisions and much, much more?
The trust we must have in our politicians, to set achievable-reduced-carbon levels, may be one of the most important political actions we have to consider in future elections. We must be sure that any reduction is based on the science we have today. Reductions based on future science have no merit.
Is it worth achieving a reduction in air pollution? Surely, the answer is an emphatic yes! Cleaning up our world is, without question, a task that needs doing and doing properly.
Ed. Note: We are running this article for the second time, believing that its contents are something of a public service.