Several years ago the World Bank has issued a report stating that the average temperature on our home planet, earth, is going to rise almost “ 7” degrees in the next 40 years. Many of you probably say that this is of little concern. Of course, those people living along the coast are probably not in that group. I would imagine that many people living in New Jersey and New York have joined the ranks of believers in global climate change. After several years of increasingly weird weather patterns and warming trends around the planet, many die-hard anti-global-warming people are finally beginning to see the light. Many scientists for the last 30 years have been trying to warn us of the coming change in climate brought on by the industrial revolution. The science is simple and well researched; when you add significant amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere, more of the sun’s energy is trapped on the planet. This in turn causes temperatures to rise which then causes ice caps to melt, the oceans to rise and weather patterns to shift. The one point that many people do not realize is that if the ocean temperature rises enough, there will be a release of methane, a very potent greenhouse gas. There are immense stores of methane at the bottom of our oceans which are kept in balance by very cold sea water. If ocean temperatures continue to rise, this methane will be released and life will threatened on our little blue marble, which may then become more red than blue if methane levels are high enough. Increased levels of methane have already been observed over both polar caps, especially in areas where the ice has begun to crack. If this happens, the temperature of the earth will begin to rise much faster than anyone can predict.
So, all knock-knock jokes aside, what do we do to avoid this oncoming catastrophe? The truth may not be something you want to hear. There may be precious little we can do to slow this thing down. I will use the super oil tanker analogy to explain our problem. Oil tankers have tremendous amounts of mass and because of this, when they are moving they have tremendous momentum. That’s what keeps you from slowing down a car when its moving forward. When a tanker approaches a port it begins to slow down many miles from its destination. When the captain decides he wants to make a turn, he must make his decision many miles before hand. The global warming momentum that has been generated by our carefree use of the earth’s resources is larger than anyone can imagine and is not going to come to a stop because I walk or ride my bike to work. Now, if enough people decide to park their cars, conserve energy at home, try to recycle as much as possible, we may begin to slow the super tanker, but it is going to take many years for the tanker to come to a full stop.
This does not mean we should not try to save our home. It simply means that we are going to have to dramatically change our way of living, learn to recycle everything, begin to use energy more wisely, carpool whenever possible and become friends with the earth rather than viewing our earth like a taxi, a way to get us where we are going. Of course, science has some ideas that might eventually become feasible, like scattering aluminum glitter into orbit around the earth to reflect sunlight. Throwing iron into the ocean to help plant life gobble up CO2 is another interesting ideas but these are all untested and could create other problems that we cannot anticipate at this time. In the end, it all comes back to us, the consumer. We can determine how this all unfolds by using products that are green and earth friendly. The saddest thing of all is that we humans do not generally react responsibly until our house is on fire; then and only then, do we go out to buy that fire extinguisher. As far as nature, Mother Earth or Gaia are concerned, it is simply the passing of another species who grew too big for their pants and became part of the fossil record.