Global Warming - Part 3 - Evidence
Updated: Aug 30
As you learned previously from Part 2 of the EES Global Warming Series, the greenhouse effect is essential for life and changes to this delicate system have lasting effects.
Earth and its atmosphere are large systems which are difficult to control. Our industrial societies require fossil fuel combustion on a vast scale which has resulted in increases in greenhouse gas emissions. Overall U.S. greenhouse gas emissions have risen by about 14 percent from 1990 to 2008, according to the Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990 – 2008 published this month by the U.S. EPA.
Human interaction with this delicate balance of managing equilibrium in the greenhouse system threatens to make life on earth different. If anything is certain, there will be change, some of which will be noticed because of the presence of peculiar weather patterns not normally seen in certain parts of the world. The weather changes, according to Wikipedia, may result in frequency and intensity variations in rainfall patterns and other severe weather events.
The effects of human and natural forces often lag their cause. It is like a freight train putting on its brakes, it takes a while to stop the entire train. According to the Gerald Meehl, in Science….
“Even if you stabilize the concentration of greenhouse gases, you are still committed to a certain amount of climate change no matter what you do because of the lag in the ocean.” Climate change will continue well into the future, even if we stopped emitting all greenhouse gases today.
Some of the evidence of climate change and other impacts of global warming are reviewed on the Union of Concerned Scientists website on Global Warming Impacts. For example, in my home state of Pennsylvania, they are predicting that during the next 30 years, the average annual temperature will increase by 2.5 degrees F; much of the state can expect significantly more days over 90 degrees; and the area of the state with significant snowfall will shrink by about half.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is currently working on their fifth assessment report on global warming. They were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change”.
Yes, there are skeptics (many of them), however, I believe that there is sufficient evidence that industrial society has contributed to climate change and that we must take actions to mitigate this worldwide problem. Please comment on this post and keep coming back for future installments of this Global Warming series.