Sunday, August 25, 2013

What's at stake for our planet?

Not too long ago, I did a post about global warming, in which I talked about how very certain scientists are that our planet is warming up and that this global warming results from human effects.  I am not going to repeat too much of what I said in that post here, because I don't really like to recycle posts... it's kind of like TV shows recycling story lines (I hate that...).  However, I do want to elaborate a bit more on the topic, especially since global warming IS a very very big issue.  The future of our entire planet and thus, the human race, is at stake!

But, what is the future of our planet?  Will it continue to heat up until the ice caps are gone?  Will there be some sort of complex global reaction and we end up in a new ice age (as the movie The Day After Tomorrow portrays... side point: don't get your science from this movie)?  Will the planet somehow compensate for the increased greenhouse gasses, thus not changing things in such a drastic way?  The short answer to these questions is that we do not know

The Earth is an extremely complex system.  It is not simply a sphere of rock and water with an atmosphere on top.  There are both large and small scale motions of air and water in the atmosphere and the oceans.  There is the evaporation and precipitation of water.  There are chemical reactions occurring all over the place.  With such a complex system, it is VERY difficult to predict with any certainty what will happen next.  

This doesn't mean that climate scientists don't know what they are doing.  They do, and in fact, they have pretty sophisticated models that can explain how many of these processes work.  But the Earth is so complex, it is basically a chaotic system.  And if you've read my post on weather forecasting, you'll have a basic appreciation for what this means.  So, making a prediction as to what will happen in the future is still quite a bit out of our reach.  Scientist have some ideas, such as those I listed above.  However, not enough work has been done to know with any certainty what is in store for our planet.

Now, this DOES NOT mean that global warming isn't currently occurring.  That the Earth is warming is something scientists are certain of.  We can see the planet warm up, and we know that we are the cause.  

A crude, but hopefully effective analogy, is watching a child grow into an adult.  You can observe the process of him or her growing.  You can even measure the growth by marking his or her height on the wall every year.  But, what you don't know is how tall he or she will grow or what they will ultimately look like in the end.  Similarly, we observe our planet warming.  That is what it is doing now.  But what will the end result be?

Unlike the growth of a child, it is imperative that we figure out what will happen next for our planet.  We must understand where global warming is taking us, and if it is taking us to extinction, then we sure as hell better do something about it!  

So, what can you do? For one, don't listen to what the mainstream media says about this as they usually get science stories wrong.  Read about it in sources like Scientific American.  Then, WRITE TO YOUR CONGRESSMEN and explain your concern about this very very important topic.  If enough people speak up, our representatives in DC will have to listen.  If we can increase funding for climate science research, we may have a chance to figure out what will happen next!

Courtesy: Universe Today

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