By the time we factor everything it'll be too late
Q: With the recent discovery that methane is bubbling out of the Arctic faster than expected, how worried should we be about abrupt changes in climate such as this one? Are there precautions we should be taking that both the political and scientific communities have been overlooking?
As if the question about human intervention in any rise in the earth's temperature wasn't complicated enough, now we have the factor of increased methane releases from tundra areas where the permafrost is melting as the temperature rises. Of course methane, which can hold 30 times as much heat as CO2, isn't a new problem. We've long known that gaseous releases from cows put a LOT of methane into the atmosphere.
Once again we need to factor into the global warming equation yet another unknown symbol. By the time we figure out the exact values for the unknowns it will be too late to change the factors in any meaningful way to limit the amount of human caused consequences. Like a train that is picking up speed, the further along the track it goes, the longer it takes to reduce the velocity back to where it was a short time ago. The longer we wait to act, the longer it will be to effectively limit the consequences humans have contributed toward the way of life for our descendants.
We know we can alter the local weather, such as in the Los Angeles basin, where smog exists. During the Northeast (U.S) power gird shutdown of 2003 air quality improved temporarily in a large area of the northern eastern seaboard, and then pollution was quickly regenerated when the power stations came back online. If we can change the atmospheric chemistry in local and regional situations, why do some think it is impossible to change the whole earth's atmosphere after 250 years of increased production of gases caused by the burning of fossil fuels?
We have seen the benefits of the Clean Air Act of 1983 and other legislation which has helped reduce the pollutants that cause health and other problems. Apparently the reduction of CFCs into the air has decreased the area of ozone depletion. It seems humans can reverse the impact caused by what we put into the atmosphere. While global warming is on a much grander and much more complicated scale, I would hope we would do whatever we can to leave the planet to future generations as much like we found it as possible.
Posted by: AGWsceptic99 | March 22, 2010 12:48 AM
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