Sex, Drugs, and Public Health

February 26, 2011

Guest Editorial : Global Warming

Filed under: Uncategorized — cbmosher @ 4:02 pm

Retired Air Pollution Control Officer Dean Wolbach contributes this:

An eighth grade graduate should know the following facts of nature; the warmer the water the faster it will evaporate, and the warmer the air the more moisture it can hold.  When a warm moister containing packet of air is cooled below its ‘dew point’ the moisture will precipitate out, sometimes as dew, sometimes as fog, sometimes as rain, and sometimes as sleet and snow.  Two further facts that a high school graduate might know (but a college graduate surely should know) is that heat is thermal energy and that temperature is a measure of the thermal energy in a system.

There are a couple of harder facts of nature to understand.  Each molecule of gas can absorb a certain amount of thermal energy.  The more gas molecules present the more energy that can be stored by that gas.  The more energy that is stored the hotter the gas.  Carbon dioxide is particularly good at absorbing energy in the temperature range of the atmosphere. Also, when moisture in the atmosphere condenses it releases that original energy required to turn it into vapor.  Thus the air tends to warm a little when it begins to snow!  These facts and the facts stated in the previous paragraph are laws of nature.

Now let us speak of a different type of fact.  This will be an observed or measured fact.

First, the oceans are warming.  They are approximately 1 degree Fahrenheit warmer now than they were 35 years ago.  This temperature increase results in 4% more water vapor being put into the atmosphere.  This additional water vapor leads to 8% more rainfall precipitating now than in 1975.  Therefore more energy is released when the moisture is precipitated from the atmosphere.  Storms are more violent.  This is an observed and measured fact.

Second, the annual average amount of heat coming from the sun to the earth has not changed since direct measurements began to be taken in the 1960s.[[1]] Indirect measurements show no change in this flux over the last 2000 years!  This is an observed and measured fact.

Third, the concentration of carbon dioxide has been rapidly increasing since the beginning of the industrial revolution (about 1800).The most dramatic increase has been since the end of WWII.  From the period 1000 AD to 1800 AD CO2 levels averaged about 280 parts per million (ppm) ±4 ppm.  By 1950 it had jumped to 300 ppm, and now it is at 330 ppm.  And the average number of volcanic eruptions per year has not changed over that 2000 year period.  This is an observed and measured fact.

So let us put together those laws of nature with those observed facts and see what precipitates.

Climate change (more violent storms and more rain and snow) is linked to ocean warming.  Ocean warming is linked to more thermal energy in the atmosphere.  Carbon dioxide is a sink for solar thermal energy.  More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere means more solar thermal energy is held in the atmosphere, thus raising the atmospheric temperature.  The only source of increased historic carbon dioxide output is human activity.

Climate change (e.g. global warming) is here, it is real, and it is most likely man-made.  For those of you who do not accept observed facts there is no hope.  For those of you who do not believe in the laws of nature, well….

[1] For those interested in numbers, averaging the 11 year sun spot cycle the energy flux on the upper atmosphere is 1344 Watts/meter2.  The variation in the sun spot cycle peak to trough is 1.3 Watts/meter2.

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