Monday, February 15, 2010

A View Of Global Warming From Main Street

I'm just an average person who turns the air conditioning on when its hot and the furnace on when its cold. When it comes to global warming, I figure the pollutants we emit into the air probably contributes to the trend in some degree.

That's an unshakable belief just as evolution makes more sense than the creationist theory.

Now, what empirical knowledge I have on climate change you can stuff in a whiskey shot glass. Pollutants, or
the air we breath, is another matter.

I went to high school in the foothills of Claremont, Calif., and the smog settling in the foothills from Los Angeles in the 1950s was enough to gag an elephant. Even on its worst days some six decades later, smog is not as thick, thanks to environmental restrictions the state imposed on gasoline emissions.

I lived in two rural communities in Oregon from 1990 to 2003 and it was the most pristine air I ever inhaled. I used to take walks along the county roads. When an old pickup truck passed belching black smoke from its exhaust, my dog Honey would sneeze and I would cough, a forced recall of my LA days when my throat felt like asbestos. In my 13 years in Oregon, I never experienced flu-like cold symptoms, a malady frequented twice annually in my California days.

Here's a fact few of you know. Those landscaped center dividers along the California freeway system are either oleanders or acacia shrubs. Why? They're the only two plant species other than weeds that can survive vehicle emissions.

The smog-producing freeways in Southern California accelerated the death of citrus groves and vegetable farms as much by disease as by a monumental upsurge in land prices. Perhaps, not so dramatic as the river in Cleveland catching on fire, but with the same results.

I remember driving down Interstate 5 to Tijuana in my newspaper days in San Diego. The perpetual wafts of smoke from the TJ dump eventually would invade your nostrils. It would take several days to rid the stink.

So don't tell me pollutants have nothing to do with the environment.

The global warming skeptics and deniers that we mostly hear from are conservatives voiced so crudely by Fox News' Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly and ilk. Now, I'm paraphrasing Hannity, but during the two recent snow blizzards on the East Coast he would show a live outdoor shot and gloat, "There folks, is global warming at work."

Ridicule aside, the Washington Post Monday published a serious article on the problems besetting the global warming hysteria raised by its deniers. It concluded the theory was correct but the methodology to prove it was flawed.

It targeted the 2007 United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which won a Nobel Prize by stating  "warming of the climate system is unequivocal."

Among the errors was most of the Netherlands is below sea level, which it isn't, and a typographical error which predicted Himalaya glaciers would melt by 2035 rather than 2530. Reports the Post:

In the past year, a cache of stolen e-mails, revealing that prominent climate scientists sought to prevent the publication of works by their detractors, has sullied their image as impartial academics. The errors in the U.N. report -- a document intended to be the last nail in the coffin of climate doubt -- are a serious problem that could end up forcing environmentalists to focus more on the old question of proving that climate change is a threat, instead of the new question of how to stop it. 

And this response from two doubting Thomas in the Senate::

Two Republican senators who have long opposed a cap on carbon emissions, James M. Inhofe (Okla.) and John Barrasso (Wyo.), are citing the errors as further reasons to block mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions. Last week, Barrasso called for an independent probe into the IPCC, suggesting that the United States should halt any action on climate until it verifies the panel's scientific conclusions. 

Inhofe said Thursday in the Senate that the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to curb greenhouse gases should be reexamined, since the U.N. panel's conclusions influenced the agency's finding that climate change poses a public threat. "The ramifications of the IPCC spread far and wide, most notably to the Environmental Protection Agency's finding that greenhouse gases from mobile sources endanger public health and welfare," Inhofe said. On Friday, a coalition of conservative groups filed a petition to overturn the EPA's finding on the same grounds.

 It seems to me sitting here at a computer while sipping iced tea that conservatives have one valid point to their argument. That is the cost to implement any program to reduce carbon emissions into the ozone or whatever Al Gore was talking about in his documentary "The Inconvenient Truth."

As an average guy, I have another observation. Since global warming effects the entire planet, what good would it do if, for example, only the United States, Canada, Europe and Japan cracked down on greenhouse emissions while China, India and all the Third World nations did little or nothing.

I'm not convinced any little bit helps on a planetary scale. It's more an all or nothing effort which is not only improbable but impossible. And, I say that as an optimist at heart.

As for the experts on this subject, click here.

1 comment:

Lee Remmers said...

“I'm not convinced any little bit helps on a planetary scale. It's more an all or nothing effort which is not only improbable but impossible. And, I say that as an optimist at heart.”

If the industrialized countries [US, Canada, Europe, and Japan] seriously try to reduce emissions while the others do not, by setting a “good” example could have some global effect on behaviour if not immediately, perhaps in the medium to longer term, could it not? After all, the whole process is very long term. Adults today would not likely see many concrete results in their lifetime, but future generations?