Monday, July 27, 2009

Global Warming and Trendy Tradies

Ok, so this is set to be a long one, but I'll try my hardest to limit the digression rambles.
Firstly, term began today. Tuesday is possibly the best day for this as i finish school at 11:45 and this particular week am not working because of my Huge Ass Chem Assessment which was due tomorrow but apparently is now due the next day. The fact that I, and the rest of year 12, have period 0 on Tuesdays does not, for me, dampen the brilliant freedom of the early finish, considering i have period 0 pretty much every day so it's like my own personal period 1 now. The only problem with today was, my morning did not get off to a great start as after sleeping in and taking my sweet time in the shower, I was running late when i discovered something about my school shoes that should not have been. Yes, you guessed it (or probably didn't, actually) Cleo, my demonic cat who seems to have some problem with me, thought my right ballet flat was the ideal place for her to pee. Thankfully, the shoe was dry, so i wore them anyway (gross, i know- but what else could i do? wear my volleys to school? No Thank You) and the offending shoe has since been sprayed with "urine free"- which incidentally, smells like green fizzers.
So, shortly before i discovered the gift in my shoe, as i was sitting in the lounge room, sipping my tea and munching my toast (peanut butter, if you're interested) in front of Sunrise, they did an item on global warming and its effect on sea levels rising due to polar ice caps melting etc. Anyway, apparently, the estimated 40cm global sea level rise was completely wrong, and they now estimate that sea levels will rise by 1m over the next century. Now, they talk about this sea level rising like it happens in one instant. I mean.... one hundred years is a damn long time, and if their other estimations about global temperature increase and everything dying and humans running out of food are correct, we'll all be dead then anyway! Not to mention, 1m isn't really that much. I know that something like 80% of the human population live in "coastal areas," but not many people are less than 1m above sea levels. And, not to mention, if this is happening over 100 years, i think people will have the sense to move inland when the water starts threatening to seep under the front door. Really, this hysteria mongering is sheer stupidity. do you really think scaring people into thinking their house is going to become the next Atlantis is going to make them switch off their lights? And that that will actually stop global warming? I'm sorry, but the only way for humans to not contribute to global warming at all would mean we'd never have discovered fire. Can you imagine early ancestor's, seeing fire and NOT wanting to find out how to make it after they realised that, hey, medium rare is rare enough? No. Although, every other animal on this planet restrained themselves from rubbing rocks together so maybe we should have.
Anyway, humans aren't entirely to blame for this lovely thing called global warming. We may have named it, but it has certainly been part of our Earth a lot longer than we have. It is part of the Earth natural cycle. In fact, global temperatures are directly related to the tectonic plates.
Ok, so let me tell you a few things about global warming, since most people have no idea what it even is, and that's why these fear tactics are so successful.
"Global Warming" means just that- an increase in average global temperatures. Now, a lot of skeptics don't believe global warming is happening, because the last few winters have been freezing etc. etc. but global warming doesn't equate to "every day will be hotter than last year." It's all about the average global temperatures. which have risen over the last century or what not. Now, they estimate an increase in average global temperatures by just 5 degrees will result in a mass extinction of most species on Earth. That's pretty frightening, but may i point out that it won't be the first mass extinction, in fact it will be the 6th. In fact, the most devastating of those was at the end of the Permian, and resulted in the extinction of 95% of Earth's species (according to fossil records, that is). Is there still life on Earth? yes. Is it the same? no. See, what follows a mass extinction is a mass radiation of new species, evolving from the few that survived whatever killed damn near everyone. In fact, it's these extinction and radiations that shape the divisions between eras, as they are based on different fossil groups.
So, global warming is perceived as a bad thing, and it could kill a lot of species. But you know what? Earth will keep on going, life will continue on and recover, even if it is completely different from now- but who really cares? That's what Earth does, and it won't be the first time global warming has caused extinctions on a global scale, and guess what? Humans weren't there to blame last time.
Which brings me to the main point i wanted to go into about global warming: The Cause. It is not, as Al Gore would like everyone to believe, caused entirely by the vast amount of CO2 that people produce. CO2 is a part of a group of gases, called greenhouse gases, which are named so because they do just that- keep the heat in, turning Earth into a greenhouse. CO2 is not the worst of the greenhouse gases. In fact, water vapour has the worst effects, but we can't do much about that, can we? And methane (CH4), produced by many animals, especially sheep, cows and other grass-feeders, is a massive contributor to the greenhouse layer- but we can't do much about that either, can we? But we can make a difference with CO2 levels, which is exactly why people are lead to believe that it is "carbon emissions" only that cause global warming.
Greenhouse gases are gases that naturally occur. Without them, the Earth would no doubt be too cold for many organisms to survive. Greenhouse conditions coincide with the Earth in the way it is now- separate landmasses. However, ice house conditions coincide with the existence of super continents, such as when all the current nations were part of Pangaea. Thus, unless you want to be sharing a back fence with rest of the world, greenhouse conditions are a fact of life. Over time, the greenhouse layer thickens, and the Earth gets warmer. Eventually, this affects temperatures in the oceans, which results in a complete halt of the natural currents ("conveyor belts") in many areas of the world. When the currents stop, warm water does not circulate, resulting in an "ice age," which kills the majority of the organism that didn't die from the effects of temperature increase. Eventually, the currents reform, the ice melts and Earth warms up enough to host life again.
So, basically, global warming is something that would happen no matter what we do. Obviously, humans increase the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, but we are not the cause of global warming. We merely quicken the process. And frankly, the human race is going to die out some time, and someone has to be the last of the line- why not our generation? or our children?
I'm not saying you should turn on all your lights, blast your AC and leave your car engine running for no reason. And maybe we should be making a conscious effort to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, but it's delaying the inevitable. And another thing, those fast solutions such as energy saving light bulbs REALLY need to be planned properly before they hit the market- i mean, mercury gas? in a light bulb? really? are you THAT stupid? We're contaminating our landfill, which leads back into the water table and eventually the food web, and thanks to biomagnification, will affect us more than those lower in the food chain. So maybe before worrying about ice caps, we should worry about mercury poisoning for the light bulbs we're using to try and stop global warming.
On to a lighter topic: as I got off the bus today, i saw two men/boys, probably my age or just older. They looked like they must have been TAFE students, as they were wearing those bulky boots tradies wear. But, oddly enough, they'd teamed their tradie-boots with super skinny denim. Interesting look...

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