A little over a year ago, I participated in a conference call with the AMS (American Meteorological Society) and leading experts in the field of Climatology. At that time, I too was skeptical of Global Warming. I believed that it was just a variation in the Earth’s temperature, which had occurred many times before over the history of our planet. I was wrong.
Global warming is real. The statement the experts involved with the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change) used was that “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal”. The key word in that statement is unequivocal. Here’s the Webster’s Dictionary definition:
1. not equivocal; unambiguous; clear; having only one possible meaning or interpretation: an unequivocal indication of assent; unequivocal proof.
2. absolute; unqualified; not subject to conditions or exceptions:
It’s a pretty powerful word. Graphs of data distinctly show that things are not only changing, but changing rapidly. Temperatures are rising, sea-levels are rising, and snow cover is decreasing especially in the last century. The world’s experts (collectively) on the subject are 90% certain that humans are the cause of the recent spike in global temperatures. Let’s think of it this way, if you received a grade of 90% on a test in college or high school, you’d be pretty happy with that. I know I would.
The effects of Global Warming (these are just a few of the many)
- For every degree rise in temperature a 4% increase in water vapor occurs. I know 4% doesn’t sound like much, but we must consider the vast size of the Earth. So to put it another way 4% of $1 is only 4 cents. But if we take 4% of a million bucks it becomes $40,000. A nice chunk of change!
- More Extremes. We will see a higher frequency of flooding, drought, bigger snow storms (if the air happens to be cold enough), and Tornadoes. Imagine if the 10 inches of rain we received last February and March fell as snow! Yikes! One interesting tidbit of information that the Binghamton National Weather Service Office provides is the amount of snow cover since 1950, and how much snow has fallen since 1950. By graphing the data, one can see that the average yearly snowfall is increasing, but the average snow cover is decreasing. What does that say about our winters? It tells us that we are having more temperature variation. We may get a foot of snow one day, but it melts the next.
- Some locals near sea-level will become flooded by rising sea-levels. You’re favorite vacation beach will disappear, and New York City could even become flooded if sea-levels rise enough. Imagine the economic impact!
Check out this website, you’ll need Adobe Acrobat Reader to open the file.
What can you do?
Let’s be realistic. Most of us can’t afford windmills, solar panels, or a brand new Toyota Prius Hybrid. Most of us can afford the simpler things.
- Change your light bulbs to compact fluorescent. You can get a 12-pack at Wal-Mart for $20. Pretty cheap, and they’ll pay for themselves and then some within a year. All my lights are now compact fluorescent.
- Take shorter showers/purchase a low-flow shower head. The one I bought was about $5
- Buy a digital thermostat for your heater/heat pump/air conditioner. They are generally around $30-$40, but will pay for themselves (they’re more accurate than the analog/mercury switch thermostats)
This is just the tip of the (melting) iceberg. I'll have more facts and figures on Global Warming in the coming weeks (I just received a nice update from the AMS that I have to read). I wanted to get the topic started and hopefully i'll see some e-mails with comments and questions from you. Maybe the next post will have a FAQ theme. If you have any comments/questions on Global Warming or things you have done to minimize energy consumption, I’d love to hear from you. I'll do my best to try and post some of the questions/comments in my next post. Either send me a letter here at the station or email me at here.