CLIMATE CONVERSATIONS : The laws of nature

climate changeClyde Burnett, Peak to Peak.  Temperature is the measure of the heat energy in the environment. The average global temperature increase towards the arbitrary 2oC limit has been the focus of publicity at the Paris conference.

However, 90% of the increased energy is stored in the oceans which make up 70% of the Earth’s surface. Sea levels and coral reef habitats are affected. Large amounts of the energy imbalance have gone into melting the ice of glaciers. (Ice does not change temperature as it absorbs the 79 calories/gm as it melts.) Sea levels are affected and the meltwater for agriculture suffers long-term changes.

Still, with high global surface temperatures, corn does not pollinate and humans collapse.

Question: So how should we decide about the degree of danger from present climate change?

Answer: Our planet’s complex response to global warming is observable in our weather, and the long-term record of weather constitutes our climate. It is the human-caused energy imbalance of the Earth that is responsible for climate change. Our need for adaptation to the increasingly frequent episodes of extreme weather and its costs has brought global attention and concern for economic and government policies. The uncertainties in the incidences of extreme weather cause difficulties in a consistent approach to corrections. The recent East Coast Snowstorm got our attention. NYC Mayor de Blasio made these statements in his interview on PBS: “I think we are in the age of extreme weather, whether we like it or not. This is obviously the result of global warming”.  Regarding our adaptation: “You cannot do business as usual, (you must) change your plans, change your habits”. Here is a reminder that those universal laws leading to the energy imbalance are grinding away in an irresistible fashion.

We continue to be worried about the amount of energy that might be released by a rogue country with a thermonuclear bomb. That of course would be a sudden destructive catastrophe, but the enhanced greenhouse trapping is a global distribution of energy. It is continuous and it is increasing. There is no question of an Earth response. It will happen in your back yard sometime. Pay attention!

Question: Do we need governmental control of scientific research?

Answer: The mechanism of the greenhouse effect is a universal law of science, not to be amended or vetoed by politicians, although some of the constructs of politics and economics need to be reexamined and modified. Greenhouse emissions are largely under public control, through the electoral process. Our generation of industrial, residential, and transportation energy can and must be shifted from fossil fuel to renewable sources like solar and wind. Politicians and economics must transfer our subsidies from fossil fuel to the CO2-free renewables.

Question:  Should government decide what our children are taught about climate science?

Answer: It is the scientists and their organizations who have identified the details of the greenhouse effect and heat trapping of increased CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels, which control the large water vapor aspect of global warming. This energy imbalance then leads to the planet’s response of glacier melt, sea level rise, and finally global temperature increase. It is this body of knowledge that is offered to the legislatures, the boards of education, and the regulatory agencies. These are the universal laws of Nature, not constructs of politicians or religious leaders.