Thursday, March 14, 2013

Global Warming is Simple... what's the deal?

I hear debates about global warming quite often.  It's one of those things that just spawns a good debate... like evolution. What I really don't get, though, is why we're always arguing it.  I mean, I realize I'm a tree-hugging, fern-cuddling, bunny lover... but really? If everyone would stop standing so stubbornly on their side of the fence ranting till they're blue in the face (at the same time the person on the other side is ranting) and took just five freaking minutes to hear each other out, maybe we could actually learn something.  Far too often people are so busy thinking about what they are going to say as a response that they miss half the conversation.  Even if it's not your thought/belief, show respect and listen to other folks instead of continuing your side of the rant in your head... and maybe you'll be shown some respect in return and both parties may glean a thought they didn't have before.  Anyhow, before I digress into a diatribe about our general lack of communication skills, let's think this out together:

  1. There were climate shifts (some massive) before and around the time humans discovered that newfangled gadget called fire.  We lovingly refer to these periods in time as "ice ages".  Nope, it's not just a movie anymore, folks.  Ice covers, ice recedes... rinse and repeat.  There's other factors to look at here as well.  Examples are solar cycles (generally 11 year shifts if memory serves, but please don't quote me on that one) and volcanic activity.  Granted, I'm sure there's a slough of natural things that contribute to and help the ozone and climate and yaddah yaddah.  
  2. Anyone who says we don't contribute to global warming: please raise your hand.  Ok... you, you, and you there in the back; go ahead and take a seat over in a different yard.  Of course we contribute to global warming.  For a period in time during the industrial age, I'm sure we were pumping out junk that contributed to a lot of things and very few healthy for you or your planet.  To say we don't contribute is like saying we don't inhale mostly nitrogen.  

So - does that mean that climate change (ya'll should have known this would get back to animals soon) is the sole culprit behind potential for some species to go extinct - we'll use the climate change poster child: Polar Bears.  Yes and no.  Let me explain.

  • Yes, because we can look through the fossil records and witness that when we have massive climate shifts some things go extinct because of a strong contribution from climate change (especially if they are in a geologically fast manner... to learn more on ice ages, find a local glaciologist or glacial geologist).    Seriously... it messes with lots of things.  Really. If you don't believe me and don't know a really cool glaciologist, just what that movie "The Day After Tomorrow" and then de-Hollywoodize it, throw away 99.5% of the content and you'll have a tickle of the truth in the back of your mind.  
  • No, because there's often contributing factors... the polar bears currently are likely not "going to go extinct" simply from the climate change.  Why?  Well, cuz they suffer massive habitat disruption/ habitat fragmentation, and exploitation from that one species that developed a frontal lobe: US.  

Long story short, folks, is that we've been shaping our world for eons... but it wasn't until we really started to take strides with "technological advances" (you know, like the wheel) that we started really impacting the world.  I've said it a million times, developing/inventing/discovering (pick your fave) agriculture was what initially led to the where we are today.  And where we are today is a society with some pretty cool science and oodles of great gadgets.  But even with all our tools, we're seeing a mere blink on the geologic timeline.  We can't hope to pretend to have answers to all the problems when we're making new discoveries all the time where we FIND new problems.  The real headache comes when we realize that some problems we discovered today are related to the "fixes" we did in the past.  Lots of other issues come from ignorance fueled exploitation.  So easy to see what idiots we were when we have the luxury of hindsight! We, as a species, suffer from hubris, entitlement, and greed at a un-measurable level.  
So in the long run: did we cause global warming? Nope... but when you look at our contributions to it in light of all the other things our species has done in the almighty name of Advancement... what does that answer really say?  

I simply hope we are learning from our mistakes and that, one day, people will honestly feel that they are part of the natural world and act as stewards (rather than the exploitative) parts of a giant puzzle. 

Never let people tell you that one person can't make a difference... granted, he's a wretched example, but Hitler was just one man and we all know the impact he had on the entire world.  I'll end my rant with this quote from Ghandi: "Be the change you want to see in the world."  

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