A few thoughts on climate change (or global warming by any other name)

Posted by By at 12 September, at 10 : 48 AM Print

Texas Governor and U.S. presidential candidate Rick Perry Wednesday night reaffirmed his disclaimer of human contribution to global warming – or climate change, or whatever we want to call the global increase in temperature and storms.

“The science is not settled on this,” Perry said, later noting, “Galileo got outvoted for a spell.”

It is true the Catholic Church disagreed with the scientist. The Church believed its home planet was the center of the universe.

Galileo grabbed a telescope, looked out in the heavens, and reported that, in fact, Earth traveled around the sun. The church attempted to squash his observations, themselves based on the studies of a lesser-known fellow named Copernicus.

As we now know, and as Galileo is said to have mentioned in the early 1600s, the Bible was long on how to go to heaven, but short on how the heavens go.

Perry and much of the rest of the oil and gas barons argue that until all the scientists get together and blame humans, there must be maintained a separation between the Church of Oil and Gas and state, the latter being the source of  unnecessary job – and profit – killing regulations and taxes.

“The fact of the matter is the science is not settled on whether or not the climate change is being impacted by man to the point (we’re going to stop doing what we’re doing),” the church’s vicar said.

Science does agree that human activity has an impact on climate. That is not the same as saying climate change is totally caused by human activity, but please permit a couple of Galileo-an observations.

Several years ago, I rode a motorcycle regularly. One might think the breeze would have made the ride cooler when temperatures reached the near-century mark, but I learned that was not the case. As I drove along Interstate 64 in the Norfolk, Va. area where I lived, I discovered the 60 mph breeze was markedly hotter over blacktop than over the light-colored concrete surface.

Try this: On a hot day, walk barefoot across the lawn, then step onto the asphalt pavement. Or go into any parking lot and put your hand on a white car, and then on a black one, and notice the difference. On some days, holding your hand on the black car is to invite a trip to the local hospital Emergency Department.

Back on the motorcycle, when I moved to Maine I spent days in the county seat, and drove home in the evening on a two-lane asphalt-paved road. As I rounded the first bend leaving Farmington, I felt the temperature drop. It was clear that the urban area, with all its heated buildings, many of which were constructed of calorie-retaining brick, were maintaining a blanket of warmth over the town.

I had a college professor who pointed out – back in the days before Global Warming was a capitalized political buzz phrase – the effects of paving parking lots and wider roads. Among the effects was local temperature change. Personal observation has indicated Prof. Eastler knew whereof he spoke.

It is clear we humans are having an effect on our planet. Actually, it is impossible that we would not.

And the effect is affecting us, as we find ways to create barriers against those who will soon approach our doors.

In the book “Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the new Geography of Violence,” author Christian Parenti argues climate change is the cause of many current small wars, and will be at the root of many more. Deserts are expanding, the mountain glaciers and polar ice caps are retreating, and cultures which historically have been separated are being forced, figuratively if not literally, to graze their cattle on each other’s turf.

The result is food and water shortage, and war for both, in Africa, Asia and Central America, and the effects of those conflicts is expanding.

Unfortunately, profits seem to trump science and bloodshed, especially as long as the profits are here and the bloodshed is there. How long that separation can be maintained is an unanswered question.

The jury is, indeed, still out on how much of the blame we humans must shoulder. There have been ice ages, and there likely will be more. We can be certain humans loudly bemoaned the heat after generations of becoming used to living near the ice that once covered Pennsylvania.

But sticking our heads in the shale drillings and pretending our carbon-based fuel addiction and our black-topped shopping mall parking lots where once there were cornfields is not at least part of the problem … it’s a little like the boy who argues against the health benefits of taking a bath.

“I’m just going to get dirty again, Mom,” he cries.

True, but a little cleanliness keeps the body healthy – or at least healthier than it would otherwise have been.

Photo by epSos .de

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This post was written by:
- who has written 169 posts for Rock The Capital
John Messeder is an award winning journalist with more than 35 years experience writing about education, environment and local government issues. He has lived in Maine, Florida, California and Alaska, and, by temporary turns, numerous places in between. John also is an accomplished photographer, and avid hiker, conservationist, oral history buff, and author of several books he has not yet got 'round to writing. He lives in Adams County, Pa., just over a hill from Gettysburg, with his wife and Golden Retriever. He may be contacted at john@JohnMesseder.com - Email jmesseder

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