August 19, 2013 – Back in the halcyon days of warnings about a far off event called climate change (as opposed to the actual occurrence of climate change, which is what we’re stuck with now), Americans were warned that if certain tendencies in the climate asserted themselves, they would encourage the climate’s unpredictability, thereby leading to more change. When an action leads to results that reinforce the original action, a feedback loop has been established. Say, for instance, that a student who dislikes school because he gets poor grades, decides that because of his disliking school he’d rather play soccer with friends than study for a test. The consequences are quite predictable: because he doesn’t study for the test, he performs poorly on the test, leading to an even greater dislike of school. That’s a feedback loop.
In the early days, right after World War II, all that scientists knew was that the earth was warming. Because everyone they told wanted to know why our planet was getting warmer, they were sent right back to the drawing board. Gradually, they began to discern the problem. The news was worse than anticipated: burning oil and coal was the cause of the warming. And the warming wasn’t just a regional or national problem. It was global. They decided to call the problem global warming.
Because the production of energy by means of burning oil and coal enables our very upscale, American way of life, no one wants to know about what the scientists discovered. The growing body of evidence is, however, very difficult to ignore. Gradually the news of our dangerous dilemma has spread, so that now, legislators and leaders of various kinds are expressing concern. Sadly, only Democrats listen to and understand the science. Republicans are still fighting it, every inch of the way.
Back to climate change feedback loops. A number of them exist today, and the more that exist, the more that will become established. Here’s what I’m talking about:
· Methane is a greenhouse gas. Billions of tons are sequestered in permafrost, which is melting and releasing the methane. Though methane lasts only seven years in the atmosphere, it is more than 20 times more toxic to humans than carbon dioxide. As more and more methane is released into the atmosphere, the world becomes hotter and hotter. It will be a very, very, very long time until we run out of methane.
· Drought in the Amazon caused it to release more carbon dioxide than the entire United States released in 2010. The more carbon dioxide that exists in the atmosphere, the greater the greenhouse effect. The greater the greenhouse effect, the hotter the earth becomes.
· Boreal forests, bogs, and peat deposits are burning at a rate exceeding the historical rate of the last 10,000 years. This is due to the fact that forests close to the Arctic are much hotter and drier than they used to be. Lightning strikes have increased because thunder storms have increased, as a result of warming air’s capacity to carry more water. Drying forests are the tinder, lightning is the match.
· Ice, snow, and water in the oceans of the North are darkening. This causes these normally light-colored surfaces to become less reflective. The less light and heat that are reflected away from the earth, the warmer the earth becomes. Ice and snow have become dirty as a result of burning fossil fuels. Northern waters are darkening because of flooding which carries silt, or dirt particles. As our planet warms, flooding will increase.
· As glaciers melt because of the increasing temperature, surface meltwater invades cracks in the ice, which causes glacial ice to soften and melt even further. Beyond a certain tipping point, water begins to pour from beneath the ice. As this phenomenon grows, a second tipping point begins to take shape. As it is reached and surpassed, the flood emanating from the glacier becomes chaotic. The likelihood of a tsunami caused by the volume of water escaping the glacier becomes far greater, and sea level rises dramatically. As stated previously, while our planet warms, flooding will increase.
Climate change deniers are costing us our planet.
With thanks to Transitionvoice.com.