Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Climate Change - Hard Facts, Soft Heads of Denial

Despite all evidence to the contrary, there are still millions of people who don't believe climate change and global warming are happening.

Naturally, the nay-sayers have financial interests in keeping the planet precariously balanced on the edge of extinction.  As if money will help them when the planet disintegrates.  It won't. 

From National Geographic:

Earth is already showing many signs of worldwide climate change.

Average temperatures have climbed 1.4 degrees F. around the world since 1880, much of this in recent decades.

The rate of warming is increasing.  The 20th century's last two decades were the hottest in 400 years and possibly the warmest for several millennia.

The Arctic is feeling the effects the most.  Average temperatures in Alaska, western Canada, and eastern Russia have risen at twice the global average.

Arctic ice is rapidly disappearing, and the region may have its first completely ice-free summer by 2040 or earlier.  Polar bears and indigenous cultures are already suffering from the sea-ice loss.

Glaciers and mountain snows are rapidly melting.  For example, Montana's Glacier National Park now has only 27 glaciers, versus 150 in 1910. 

Coral reefs, which are highly sensitive to small changes in water temperature, suffered the worst bleaching - or die-off in response to stress - ever recorded in 1998, with some areas seeing bleach rates of 70 percent.  Experts expect these sorts of events to increase in frequency and intensity in the next 50 years as sea temperatures rise.

An upsurge in the amount of extreme weather events, such as wildfires, heat waves and strong tropical storms, is also attributed in part to climate change by some experts.

Are Humans Causing It?

Very Likely.

Industrialization, deforestation and pollution have greatly increased atmospheric concentrations of water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, all greenhouse gases that help trap heat near Earth's surface.

Humans are pouring carbon dioxide into the atmosphere much faster than plants and oceans can absorb it.

These gases persist in the atmosphere for years, meaning that even if such emissions were eliminated today, it would not immediately stop global warming.

Some experts point out that natural cycles in Earth's orbit can alter the planet's exposure to sunlight, which may explain the current trend.  Earth has indeed experienced warming and cooling cycles roughly every hundred thousand years due to these orbital shifts, but such changes have occurred over the span of several centuries.  Today's changes have taken place of the past hundred years or less.

What's Going to Happen?

Global warming could lead to large-scale food and water shortages and have catastrophic effects on wildlife.

Sea level could rise between 7 and 23 inches.  Rises of just 4 inches could flood many South Sea islands and swamp large parts of Southeast Asia.

Some hundred million people live within 3 feet of mean sea level, and much of the world's population is concentrated in vulnerable coastal cities.  In the U.S., Louisiana and Florida are especially at risk.

Glaciers around the world could melt, causing sea levels to rise while creating water shortages in regions dependent on runoff for fresh water.

Strong hurricanes, droughts, heat waves, wildfires and other natural disasters may become commonplace in many parts of the world.  The growth of deserts may also cause food shortages in many places.

More than a million species face extinction from disappearing habitat, changing ecosystems and acidifying oceans.

The ocean's circulation system, known as the ocean conveyor belt, could be permanently altered, causing a mini-ice age in Western Europe and other rapid changes.

At some point in the future, warming could become uncontrollable by creating a so-called positive feedback effect.  Rising temperatures could release additional greenhouse gases by unlocking methane in permafrost and undersea deposits, freeing carbon trapped in sea ice and  causing increased evaporation of water.


It's Earth Day week.  Am I the only one who cares about what we are doing to our Mother?  Will we continue to destroy the environment for future generations, until there are no future generations?

Although all the scientific data is in, we still have people in complete denial that any of this is happening.  Who are those people?  They are the very ones destroying the planet, in the name of earning a buck. 

I have just one question.  How does a dead species spend money?

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