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Global what? - July 18, 2009

After all the literature and information that I have consumed on the subject of global warming and climate change, one very narrow phrase finally brought me to a decision. 

It had very little to do with global climate change and came from a source far removed from the usual suspects, which mostly include scientific journals and main stream news, intent on plastering ambiguous stats and figures about even more ambiguous and irrelevant coincidences on their pages.

Posted in a forum discussion, in response to an article stating that Canadians have basically given up on summer all together, was the following: “Last October we bought a new house with a pool.”

As a complaint, given the local weather conditions so far this summer, I definitely can relate.

Upon reading this, my initial reaction was more of surprise than anything else because I was not aware that people in this country were still purchasing homes. The second time around I noticed “Last October…” and pity for this poor soul poured out of me like sweat two days after a six-month drunk.

If there ever were a bad time to have bought a house, it would’ve been last October. Prices were still sky high and the economic collapse was still in its infancy. By November, the fat lady quit her bawling and we all started marching to the tune of French composer Hector Berlioz.

So not only does the disgruntled poster have a new home that he almost certainly owes more on than what it’s worth, he also has a pool that he cannot use.

I am reminded of a movie starring Alec Baldwin and Anthony Hopkins called “The Edge.” At one point Hopkins, who plays a billionaire, tells Baldwin, who plays a photographer, “Never feel sorry for a man who owns a plane.” Now if I replace “plane” with “pool” things suddenly start coming into focus.

Whether average temperatures go up or down, people are not worried about climate change as much as they are worried about the possible effect it will have on their daily lives. We are bombarded by the notion that it’s our children and our children’s children that will ultimately pay for what we have done. That may be true but it’s also no different from what our generation and those before us had to deal with.

Twenty-five years ago, we were told that there was a gaping hole in the ozone and we’ll all be fried to a crisp by the end of the century. We did away with CFCs, called the ozone stitched up and went on with our otherwise meaningless lives. Until Al Gore and his cronies came along and warned that the entire Eastern Seaboard might drown somewhere down the line because it‘s getting warmer.

Wait…what? Do you see now, why prior to reading this post I was at a loss? If not, allow me to explain.

For every scientist that tells you that the earth’s temperature is warming, there’s another one telling us that the temperature is cooling. Contradictions abound and in one instance the very same outfit (University of Illinois) that reported Arctic ice being at a 30-year low in 2007, also reported Antarctic ice to be at an all time high.

This wasn’t even discussed in mainstream media and you actually have to go to some lengths to find the data. One thing I do know, for human beings a colder earth is far worse than a warmer earth. If it got colder, we wouldn’t be able to grow any food. Then there are scientist that argue that CO2 could actually be a cooling agent rather than a warming one. 

Either way, the most recent IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report presented to policy makers in 2007 made two key predictions that bummed me out.

“For the next two decades, a warming of about 0.2°C (0.36°F) per decade is projected for a range of SRES (Special Report on Emission Scenarios) emission scenarios. Even if the concentrations of all greenhouse gases and aerosols had been kept constant at year 2000 levels, a further warming of about 0.1°C (0.18°F) per decade would be expected.”


“Anthropogenic warming and sea level rise would continue for centuries due to the time scales associated with climate processes and feedbacks, even if greenhouse gas concentrations were to be stabilized.”

Later on they rescinded on that and dropped their predicted levels by 44%.

Personally, I think we could use an extra eight or nine degrees on a daily basis. Even at their initial rates a rise such as that would take about 200 years at which point a temperature change on terra firma would be the least of my problems. According to these people, it looks like sea levels are going to rise even if we stopped breathing. In that case, I don’t care if half of Florida turns into a colorful coral reef because I don‘t live there and if I did, I would move. It’s called adaptation.

Troglodytes didn’t like the scenario of having to pack their belongings and move when the cave became a little too nippy for the missus. But they did. At least they had the wisdom to realize that there is nothing you can do to change the weather. Temperature change is a naturally occurring event and has been since long before they started keeping records. Then there are those that think even the methods used by the IPCC to obtain its measurements are highly questionable. So nobody really knows what’s going on. It is still all theory and it depends on whom you listen to. Those who tell you that “There’s no more debate” are flat-out wrong.

The fact of the whole matter is, whether these changes are natural, man-made, up, down or sideways, all the species that have so far survived on this planet had to adapt to, and live through, conditions that were far worse than the supposed calamity we face. Even if the IPCC stats are solid, the projected changes will be nothing more than negligible.

Conditions have been and will be both sustainable and not, to the point of extinction in some cases. Consequently, new ecosystems will develop where new animal and plant life will thrive.

Yes, we are inherently unhappy. Yet our perpetual need for fulfillment and our innate ability to adapt to changing circumstance is at least mostly responsible for our success as a species. It wouldn’t surprise me if 200 years from now, humanity has come up with a working solution with regards to inclement weather but as I said, that would be the least of my problems at that point.

Ironically, the poster with the pool problem wouldn’t have had a problem with the pool had global warming actually taken effect. I would think he  probably would’ve marveled at his own wisdom and insight and bathed in the glory of sunshine and all that is good with the world.

In the mean time, I will let the scientists quibble and the politicians and lobbyists lie all they want and do what just about everybody else is doing about this debacle – I will thank God I don’t have a pool and I’ll hope for warmer weather.

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