A House of Cards

Okay look – I have a really good excuse for not posting for a few days – I was on vacation!  Not to say I can’t blog on vacation, but since I was in the middle of nowhere, it sort of made the idea more logistically cumbersome than was really warranted, so anyway.

I always try to tie each post to Wyoming, because that’s what’s this blog is about! So today’s no different, but in a slightly different way. Today’s post is kind of a public service message. I know I promised the basketball story again, in writing this time, and that post is right around the corner, I promise, but I’m afraid that today I need to go on what will hopefully be a constructive rant.

Without giving too much away about where I work, for those of you who don’t know, I have ended up in a class on global warming. Really interesting stuff. And this was just the first class of many. So I’m stoked. I’m really interested in this topic, so much so that for those of you (or should I say both of you – doh) that have read the novel I wrote, you know that I address this topic at some length in my book.

What I’m on a rant about is that my workplace has gotten an overwhelming positive response to this class – but it has also gotten some negative feedback both internal and external. Some of the negative feedback came in the form of personal attacks on the people trying to educate other people about global warming. Lots of “why are we wasting time with this” types of comments. Lots of “Global warming has been proven a fraud” type of comments.

So, while I am far from an expert in global warming, I have definitely done some research on this (for my book). My research included reading three books on the subject, watching four documentaries, and over 40 hours of Internet research into what global warming is and what it’s not.

So how does this relate to Wyoming? Why don’t you ask someone who lives there if they believe in global warming? You see, in areas like Wyoming where seasonal temperatures cross a broad spectrum, from 65 degrees Fahrenheit below zero in the winter (this happened two years in a row) to 105 degrees in the summer in the 1970s, those temperature spectrums have shrunk. The average annual temperature range there now in a year is from 10 degrees below zero to 115 degrees. The climate in Wyoming has already shifted an average of 10 degrees (I grant you that the two instances of 65 below were cold snaps) and it has been enough to cause animals to migrate out of higher elevations later in the year and has caused an average annual decrease in snowfall in Wyoming of over a foot or more annually. Simply put, people in Wyoming realize that global warming is very very real, because they are living it. This is true of any location that has historically had extremes in differences between summer and winter temperatures. Those places are getting hotter.

But then the naysayers point to coldsnaps in the northeast, and ice storms in the Midwest. Look, they say, record low winter temperatures here and a record snowfall there, they say. Where is your global warming now, they say? And the naysayers who use that kind of logic are missing the point on an almost biblical level. The point isn’t that someone turned up the thermostat and we all better go out and buy tank tops, the point here, the thing that is so obvious that everyone seems to be missing it, is that our planet’s climate is not nearly as predictable and of an ebb and flow nature as it used to be. The entire planet’s climate is destabilizing. And today, I am going to prove it to you.

Here are some fun facts about global warming just to get things going:

Sea levels along the west coast of North America have already risen 3 inches from their historic annual averages.

1997, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2012 all had one thing in common: all of these years shattered heat wave records around the world.  July 2012 was the hottest month on record, ever.

In 2012, the polar ice cap of previously permanent sea ice shrunk to its all time smallest size since records on this started being collected.

At current rates of warming, if the trend that began in 1900, at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution is not reversed, the Earth’s annual average temperature will rise by between 4 and 8 degrees.

At their current melting rates, permanent glaciers in Glacier National Park in Montana, the Andes, Mount Kilimanjaro, Alaska, Canada, the Swiss Alps, amongst other locales will be almost completely gone in 20 years.

Carbon Dioxide gas, one of the main greenhouse gasses that prevent excess heat and ultra-violet radiation from the sun from naturally escaping Earth’s atmosphere, is present in our atmosphere at a rate over 10 fold of what it has always been for eons, before the Industrial Revolution.

I could go on all day, but you get the idea. The planet is heating up, and fast. This does not mean we are all going to fry, however, on the contrary, it may actually mean quite the opposite. And here we come to the Grand Irony of Runaway Global Warming: one scientific model of global warming suggests that the ultimate outcome of this if something is not done is a new ice age.

You heard me. The ultimate consequence of unchecked global warming could quite possibly be the return of the glaciers to their levels at the end of the last ice age. By the way, the bottom edge of that level of glaciation would run through America’s corn and wheat belts.

Lets’ break this down so this makes sense. I know it sounds contradictory, but this is exactly what the Desalinization Model of Global Warming suggests could happen.

One of the naysayers’ favorite analogies is that if the ice cubes in a glass of water melt, the water in the glass doesn’t rise, it stays the same, and the temperature of the water stabilizes once the ice is melted. Therefore, global warming doesn’t exist. This is an actual argument against global warming. Leaving alone the fact that that equation is a bit different in salt water, and the fact that the top 100 feet or so of the polar ice cap is actually accumulated snowfall that became permanent ice, let’s examine that analogy again with one twist: now that the ice has melted, let’s add about 10 more ice cubes to the glass. What happens to your water level in the glass now?

The permanent land based ice packs in Greenland and Antarctica, together constituting 70 % of the Earth’s fresh water, is currently melting at record levels that a few years ago even scientists who were extremely concerned about global warming said were impossible. In the last 10 years alone, chunks of ice larger than New Hampshire have broken off of the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica and floated out to sea. This has happened at least 7 times that we know of. In the same 10 short years – 10% of Greenland’s permanent ice pack – gone, running into the ocean. This will do two things – because we are talking about trillions of tons of fresh water, this will make the world’s oceans slightly less salty. And of course, it will raise sea levels. Some estimates say by 20 feet by the year 2030. That would be enough to permanently flood many coastal cities.

In the southern Atlantic and south Pacific Oceans, a heat exchange takes place on a daily basis – As the sun rises and sets, cool deep waters rise as warm tropical surface waters sink. This natural heat exchange regulates the oceans’ temperatures. The single factor that most influences this exchange rate besides the sun is the water’s salinity. Because salt changes the density of the water, the saltier the water is, the faster that warm surface water sinks, causing that heat exchange engine to run faster. Conversely, if the salinity of the water were to be reduced, it would slow down this heat exchange. This temperature inversion in Earth’s  southern oceans helps to generate surface winds in a predictable pattern as well as create a current in the oceans that carries colder water north. The winds generated are called the Trade Winds, which are largely responsible for the stability of warm, tropical climates just south of the Equator. The water current generated is called the Gulf Stream; it runs up the eastern coastline of South America and on to the Caribbean, and finally to the coast of the southern United States, where it meets colder waters coming down from the north.

In the north, the same type of temperature inversion causes a south bound water current called the North Atlantic Current, exchanging cold polar waters down to meet the Gulf Stream. The North Atlantic Current also helps keep in check a northern high altitude wind system that constantly circumnavigates the globe in the northern latitudes – the Jet Stream. Where the North Atlantic Current and the Gulf Stream collide, they also connect, creating a “conveyer belt” that is constantly exchanging cold water for warm, and cold air to warm air. Where the two meet is a natural “turbulent zone” – this is why hurricanes are always generated in the waters just north of the Caribbean Sea – it’s where the temperature clash is the strongest, and the energy released as nature tries to balance the two forces creates powerful storms.

That, in a nutshell, is how our planet’s climate works. It’s a pretty neat and stable system, and has been for a long, long, time.

Unless you were to change the salinity level in the southern oceans.

Which of course is exactly what is happening as giant chunks of Antarctica’s permanent ice shelves continue to fall off of that continent, into the ocean, and melt. The same thing is happening in the north as land based ice in Greenland continues to melt at record levels.

The salinity that controls our planet’s entire climate is changing as fresh water is added to salt water by the trillions of tons. It is a scientific fact that if the salinity changes enough, it will shut down the temperature inversion that drives the Trade Winds, the Gulf Stream, the North Atlantic Current, and the Jet Stream, and the whole mess is going to come crashing down on our heads like a house of cards.

If that were to happen, polar air and southern air and water would meet in unpredictable ways all across the globe as the global climate collapsed. This would generate unpredictable storms of a magnitude never witnessed in recorded history. As the Jet Stream Collapses (the Jet Stream is a hugely powerful wind current that maintains at around 40,000 feet altitude) it will be pulled to the ground by the destabilizing polar air and as the North Atlantic Current shuts down. As the Jet Stream comes to ground level, it is theorized that it could create a vacuum in the atmosphere strong enough to pull small amounts of Tropospheric air at the edge of space down to the ground. The temperature of Tropospheric air is close to Absolute Zero, about 450 degrees Fahrenheit below zero. This could explain why Wooly Mammoths have been found flash-frozen in ice with berries in their mouths and in mid-stride. The last time this happened was the beginning of the last ice age, about 100,000 years ago, ending about only 10,000 years ago. We are not due for another ice age for a long time (they seem to happen about every 300,000 years). Unless we were intelligent enough to create enough greenhouse gasses to cause an “artificial ice age” out of whack with the planet’s normal rhythms.

Could it really happen? How much desalinization (adding fresh water to salt water) is too much? How bad could it get? These are questions with no answer, except perhaps to say that we will probably know when it happens that something is very, very wrong.

The above scenario is not something I or anyone else dreamed up. It is a solid scientific theory based upon careful scientific measurement and observation by some of the world’s brightest minds – much smarter than me – all I am doing here is repeating it. I have just very briefly described the Desalinization Model of Global Warming, and it’s worth thinking about.

Global Warming is not made up, and it is not a hoax. Just ask my hometown. It is very very real, and it is already happening all around us. If we do not start taking drastic measures to reduce our CO2 omissions on an individual, local, state, national, and international basis, then we could be robbing our grandchildren of their right to inherit a world in which they might have any choice in the matter. It’s worth thinking about.

Global Warming:  So what can I do?
– If you don’t need a gas guzzling truck or SUV, then don’t drive one. (Yes, we’ve all been hypocrites on this one, myself included.)

– Turn off lights, heaters, and air conditioners when you aren’t using them.

– Given their limitations, electric cars are not the greatest car if it’s your only car – they don’t do road trips that well. But maybe next time you are shopping for a daily commute car, a hybrid or an electric might be the best choice. I myself am committing to purchase an all electric vehicle for my next car, if I ever wear out my Mitsubishi, that is……

– Recycle, recycle, recycle

– Buy post consumer recycled products.

– Reward companies that “Go Green” by buying their products.

– Eat lots of beef – fewer cows mean less methane in the atmosphere.

(Yes, that last one was a joke. I decided this post has gotten wayyyy to serious).

– Above all else – educate yourself, and talk about global warming with your friends, family, and neighbors. If you meet someone who thinks global warming is a crock, don’t call them names, just try to help them see the facts.

– Remember – people crawl into their shell about this and deny it because it’s upsetting. We are doing real damage to this planet, and to ourselves, and this is provably true by scientific facts.

It’s time to stop.

 

 

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