Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) are responsible for global warming, the long-term worldwide average warming experienced since the industrial revolution. GHGs arise from human use of fossil fuels for energy. Major emitters of GHGs include both industrialized countries and, in recent decades, developing countries as well. Higher global temperatures cause the extremes of hot and cold, and wet and dry, weather of recent years. This blog examines global warming and its effects.
See the Tabbed Pages for links to video tutorials, and a linked list of post titles grouped by topic.
This blog is expressly directed to readers who do not have strong training or backgrounds in science, with the intent of helping them grasp the underpinnings of this important issue. I'm going to present an ongoing series of posts that will develop various aspects of the science of global warming, its causes and possible methods for minimizing its advance and overcoming at least partially its detrimental effects.
Each post will begin with a capsule summary. It will then proceed with captioned sections to amplify and justify the statements and conclusions of the summary. I'll present images and tables where helpful to develop a point, since "a picture is worth a thousand words".
2016, shortly after the United Nations-sponsored meeting that culminated in the
Paris Climate Agreement of 2015, this writer posteda fable
characterizing a fictional centennial commemoration of the 2015 Agreement in a
scenario in which use of fossil fuels had continued unabated during that
100-year interval.The fable is
Centennial Commemoration of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement
December 2115, the hundredth anniversary of the agreement to a climate treaty reached
among all the members of the United Nations, in Paris.The members of the Petrex extended family gathered to mark the
occasion.By that time, three to four
generations after the event, the clan had grown considerably, and had
established for itself a fully self-sufficient environment inside its terradome.For the occasion the space was opulently
fitted out with an artificial lake in which were moored several model oil rigs.
The pipe linking the rigs to shore ended
in an internally illuminated fountain gurgling champagne.Scattered about the artificially-turfed land
areas were several working model oil wells erected in mud fields of black
caviar, pumping dark chocolate and coffee liqueurs, and other reminders of the
black gold that had started the Petrex fortune, more than one hundred years
then, the clan founder, Malvolio Petrex, chairman and chief executive officer
of the largest oil company at the time, had come to realize the inconsistencies
of his, and his company’s, position.They
were, at one and the same time, using all their financial power and political
influence to perpetuate, indeed to expand, the use of the oil they extracted
from the ground, while correctly realizing that their exploitative activities
were worsening the global warming already well under way.After all, the Paris agreement itself was reached in
response to expert scientific findings, reported for at least the preceding
twenty years, that burning oil and other fossil fuels, such as those his
company and others were pulling from the ground, added irreversibly to the
atmospheric burden of carbon dioxide, a powerful greenhouse gas.
Petrex knew that global warming was going to get much worse in the coming
years, because his company and others were continuing to produce fossil fuels
at ever-increasing rates of growth, year after year.After all, more and more energy was needed to
fuel the demands of economies all over the world, being used to expand their
economies and raise the poorest peoples of the world out of poverty.
wasn’t too worried about his own welfare, though.Thanks to his immeasurable wealth, he already
had peppered several secure estates around the world, in various climatic and
ecological settings.But as any other
dynastic figure that we may encounter throughout history, he was concerned
about the wellbeing of his progeny.He
knew that the travesties his business activities were creating would worsen
after he was gone, impacting the lives and indeed the safety of his
scions.He understood that worsening
warming would lead to economic and political unrest among the impoverished and
others less well off than he because they would be suffering the harmful
effects of warming: flooding in some regions; droughts, wildfires and famine in
others; and inexorable sea level rise driving millions around the world from
their traditional homes and livelihoods.
he embarked on a program to develop self-contained environments for himself and
his family.The environments would insulate
his family from the unpleasantness of dealing with the effects of climate
change by keeping the open atmosphere out, and the family’s living quarters and
areas for amusing themselves in.The first
models were installed on the grounds of his existing estates, and were
hundred years later, after many rounds of development and improvement, this
Petrex estate was enveloped in its own protective terradome.It was a large, fully enclosed environment
covering almost one square mile, incorporating the estate’s mansion, its recreational
areas, and fields producing much of its food needs.The terradome insulated the estate from the
worst “weird” climate and weather events brought on by the extreme warming that
the world had attained by then, as well as keeping a portion of the sun’s
warming light from penetrating to the land within it.The Petrex family had practically no need to
travel outside the terradome; it was almost entirely self-sufficient.
result, they were insulated as well from the harms and damages induced by the
warmer climate that most of the peoples of the world were suffering.Or maybe they knew and, just like Malvolio
Petrex a hundred years earlier, chose to ignore it.The population at large was subjected to far worse
conditions than Petrex’s world had experienced one hundred years earlier: debilitating
heat waves and droughts, intense storms bringing on severe flooding,
encroaching oceans because of the severe degree of sea level rise, all brought
on by the excess global warming that burning fossil fuels induced.
time of the centennial anniversary the opportunity for effective action to
combat global warming had long passed.
centennial celebration of the Paris Agreement has already arrived, 99 years early.The newly elected U. S. President, Donald
Trump, is a man whose wealth could well serve as a model for the patriarch Malvolio
Petrex.He shows his wealth at least
partly by erecting palatial residences and developing exclusive golf courses around
Trump has called global warming a hoax.Now as president he is implementing policies and appointing people to
important cabinet positions who share his sentiment. From the outset, he is reversing important initiatives
undertaken by his predecessor, who had set in motion important policies that
curb emissions of greenhouse gases.
a partial list of President Trump’s actions and policy positions:
appointed Scott Pruitt to be Administrator of the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA). Instead of having an interest in protecting the environment, Mr.
Pruitt is eliminating rules that preserve our natural world.In his previous position as the Attorney
General of Oklahoma, he repeatedly sued the EPA seeking to overturn its
regulations that protect aspects of our environment, including emissions of
greenhouse gases. Now he is the Administrator of that selfsame agency.The Los Angeles Times writes
“The Republican dogma of unrestrained economic exploitation drives the
president and his EPA chief. As a result, climate science has become a
fossil fuels coal emits the most carbon dioxide (per amount of heat obtained)
when burned.So its use should be
limited as much as possible in order to reduce emissions.But Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke ordered
that a ban on mining coal on federal lands, put in place by former President
Obama, be rescinded.The order followed
through on President Trump’s overall goal of increasing American energy
a review of all policies deemed to interfere with enhancing America’s energy
independence.This includes directing
Administrator Pruitt to reconsider the Clean Power Plan, an EPA regulation
issued under President Obama that would produce significant reductions in carbon
dioxide emissions from the electric power industry.
Trump issued an order to review the program, issued by EPA and the Department of Transportation under President Obama,
significantly increasing automobile Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE)
standards by 2025.The review may lead
to weakening the requirements or slowing the timeline for the CAFE regulation.
budget proposal that President Trump outlined for Fiscal Year 2018 seriously cutsscientific research in many agencies of
the U.S. government.Concerning activities related to curbing global warming,
the proposal completely eliminates the Department of Energy’s Advance Research
Projects Agency-Energy unit, reduces research support for the National
Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration by 52%, and cuts EPA research by
48% and National Aeronautics and Space Administration earth science research by
6%.These agencies engage in essential
research on the state of the planet’s climate and provide seed or venture
funding for development of new technologies that lower greenhouse gas
Trump, could easily serve as a model for Malvolio Petrex, since he can insulate
himself from the ravages of intensified global warming.His policies, to be implemented 99 years before the centennial of the
Paris Climate Agreement, will have major immediate effects and indirect ramifications
that worsen greenhouse gas emissions and lead to more severe harmful
consequences of warming.Yet we may
imagine that, with the vast resources he controls, his children, grandchildren
and further progeny can create environments for themselves that will protect
them from harms and damages that global warming brings.The same can be said for those he selected to
implement his policies.
the peoples of the earth, considered at large, are not so lucky.They can’t easily shield themselves from climatic
harm.They could well be defenseless
victims of President Trump’s policies.The climate framework that Mr. Trump is overthrowing, begun under
President Obama and implemented worldwide with his leadership, could make
significant progress to minimizing those risks.
not too late for the Trump Administration to reconsider, and rejoin the compact
of the world’s nations to lower greenhouse gas emissions.