Saturday, January 06, 2007

January Showers Bring February Flowers?

It's January 6th and pouring rain. By golly this global warming thing is great. I was worried I was going to have to buy a snow blower.

OK, I'm being a bit "tongue-in-cheek". But let's have a reality check. First, the environmental movement has totally focused on global warming. As far as they are concerned, you're either on the global warming bandwagon, or you're an enemy of the environment. One or the other and no middle ground. But reality is somewhat different. We can't afford to concentrate solely on global warming. Responsible environmental policy needs to include clean air and clean water, it needs to control harmful chemicals and deal with waste disposal. Sure, a balanced approach isn't as much fun. You don't get to yell and scream and denounce Conservative politicians and get interviewed by the press, but a balanced approach is the right thing to do!

Next, let's talk about global warming itself. Is it real? I have no idea. The notion of global warming is so thoroughly entrenched in many minds that to question it is environmental heresy. But there are only so many dollars to go around. Our national budget and our private economy can only afford so much. So we must make sure we spend it in the right areas. Asking questions about the science behind it is not an excuse for doing nothing. But there's no excuse for spending money when we're not sure if there is a problem or how to solve the problem. It's a shame that asking scientific questions is politically incorrect and brands you a heretic.

Finally, let's talk about our rainy January. In the popular mind, an unseasonably warm January is proof of global warming. Unfortunately a single data point is scientifically useless. I know, the popular mind doesn't know what I'm talking about when I refer to a single data point, but I suspect many of you do. An unseasonably warm January is a single data point, which combined with other data points might indicate global warming, but by itself establishes nothing. Of course, even if it did establish global warming is occurring, it says nothing about the cause of global warming. Is it a natural phenomenon, or is it man-made? Global warming might be a natural phenomenon? Oops. There I go with my heresy again.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Jim Vellenga said...

The real question, as you mentioned at the end of your post, is whether the warming that is currently seen is natural or caused by human activity. Seeing as one volcano can spew out huge amounts of greenhouse material, and there is plenty of evidence of the earth being substantially warmer several hundred years back it makes me think this is a natural phenomena.

I also do not believe that the earth does not have any sort of mechanism that will result in cooling to counteract the warming. I remember reading about how when the ice caps melt and dilute the ocean it will stop currents like the gulf steam which would cause cooling in the northern oceans.

6:54 p.m.  
Anonymous jgriffin said...

Several points to make here Shawn:

1. I don't think that anyone argues against Global Warming/Climate Change anymore. There is enough historic evidence to suggest that this is a normal cyclical event. The world will warm regardless of what we do. The only thing we don't know is if we are accelerating the cycle. The question now is what should we be doing about it if anything?

2. This winter warmer for us because of a record el nino event. The water in the Pacific ocean is 5C above normal.

3. The Clean Air Act is needed regardless of what we do about climate change. Continuously adding pollutants to the environment is like continuously adding drops of food colouring to a swimming pool. Do it long enough and you are going to see the effects.

As a final note, my mother has flowers blooming in her garden. Never happened when I lived there. Ever. If that is not an indication of climate change, cyclical or not. I don't know what is.

4:24 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Genesis 8:22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

6:14 p.m.  

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