Climate Change? Peak-Oil? Where is the evidence? What is the impact?
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Why is Climate Change so controversial? Are we running out of oil? Was the burning of Moscow in 2010 a result of Global Warming? What is the science behind all these claims? This book provides a critical but concise analysis of the evidence and anti-evidence of the Global Warming theory and the Peak-Oil claim. Anyone who is interested in the future of our society will find this book informational.
“134 killed in southern Russia floods disaster - Flash floods deluged Russia's southern Krasnodar, killing at least 134 people in the region's worst natural disaster in decades…,” read one news headline on July 7, 2012. Rain poured down on the Krasnodar region of Russia near the Black sea area, dumping as much as 5 months worth of rainfall in a matter of hours, flooding villages and stranded residents. The amount of water was so huge that local people suspected, though incorrectly, that it was the release of water from nearby reservoirs that had flooded their place.
Then on July 12, torrential downpour bored down on southern Japan, causing flash floods and displacing a quarter of a million people. In some area, rain as heavy as 4 inches per hour was recorded. The pond surrounding the Japanese cultural icon, the Golden Pavilion, overflowed, though the temple itself remained above water.
We have seen more and more of these kinds of extreme weather phenomena. Once-in-a-century events seem to be occurring annually, or so it feels.
So, that’s why you have headlines like “Start of 2012, March shatter US heat records”. This one is from an Associated Press article on April 9, 2012. The article continued, “The magnitude of how unusual the year has been in the U.S. has alarmed some meteorologists who have warned about global warming. One climate scientist said it is the weather equivalent of a baseball player on steroids, with old records obliterated.”
Then, against this backdrop of extreme weather events, earlier in 2011, a Nobel Prize winning physicist Ivar Giaever decided to resign from the American Physical Society over its position on Climate Change. American Physical Society’s official position has been that yes, climate change is real, and we should do something about it. It was this position that caused it its support from Giaever. Giaever is a non-believer. He thinks global warming can be good if it is real.
Giaever is not alone in his position though. He is also not the only Nobel Prize winning non-believer. Freeman Dyson, another physicist with a Nobel Prize under his belt, too is a non-believer. “Dyson doesn’t deny that excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is warming the planet. But he predicts that advances in bio-technology—especially the creation of genetically engineered carbon-eating plants, which he foresees within two decades—will mitigate the damage with a minimum of economic and social disruption,” explained a November 2009 article in The Atlantic magazine. It prompted writer Kenneth Brower to ask, in another article in The Atlantic, “How could someone as smart as Dyson be so dumb about the environment?” Brower offered an answer: great physicists are often contrarians.
Of course, not all Nobel Prize winning scientists are non-believers. If this were so, the debate would have been over. But no, not so fast. In fact, in March of 2010, more than 2000 scientists and economists, including eleven Nobel Prize winners, delivered a letter to the U.S. Senate calling for the Senate to address climate change immediately. At the beginning of the letter, it reads, “We call on our nation’s leaders to swiftly establish and implement policies to bring about deep reductions in heat-trapping emissions. The strength of the science on climate change compels us to warn the nation about the growing risk of irreversible consequences as global average temperatures continue to increase over pre-industrial levels.”
As you can see, climate change is a difficult topic. It is difficult even for the Nobel laureates. Do you thing the public has a chance?
The Internet is exploded with climate change information and mis-information. People are as emotionally charged as ever. Why are people so emotionally charged? Because it can potentially impact every one of us - not in the sense that natural disasters can hit us all, but in the sense that some government actions can, especially if the result is the establishment or the abolishment of some governmental policy that everybody has to be obliged by. If you believe global warming is harmless, while the government wants to impose tax to make your gasoline more expensive, how will you take it? If your neighbor wants the government to impose regulations on carbon dioxide because he/she believes global warming is bad, how will you take your neighbor? In some sizeable segment of the society in the United States, the Federal government is perceived as a greater threat than natural disasters, sometimes rightly so, though at the same time, the same segment has also voted to give the Federal government more power to erode civil liberty, including how one should behave in his or her own bedroom. Isn’t that ironic?
Climate change can be discussed in two fronts. First, is it real? Second, if it is real, is it bad? After all, if climate change is not bad, why worry about it even if it is real? Part of what Freeman Dyson was saying is not that global warming is not real, but it may not be bad, and there is no point in being so alarmed. After all, plants grow better with more carbon dioxide around, and people regularly breathe 1000 ppm (parts per million, 3 times present atmospheric level) carbon dioxide in office environments with no apparent adverse effect.
The first question, that whether global warming is real, is a scientific one. The second one is not. Scientific questions tend to have clear answers. Non-scientific questions tend to have not. We will see more evidence of that in this book.