In recent days, the evidence of our planet becoming warmer with each passing year was revealed. Weather information provided by the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) shows us something that many of us already sensed from our own experiences with heat, drought, and adverse weather conditions. What we learned is that global average temperatures for 2012 turned out to be the 10th warmest year ever (since records of such things began back in 1880). Worse, it was the 36th year in a row where the global average temperature exceeding the average for the 20th century. In fact, we seem to be gathering steam, so to speak, as the last 12 consecutive years (2001-2012) rank among the highest temperature years in recorded history. Specifically, if you look at the 14 hottest years ever, these past 12 years are included in that group. Scientists have been carefully measuring temperatures around the globe over the last 133 years and while it could be argued that the way in which we measure temperatures has become more sophisticated in the past few decades, then in the late 1800s, it does not discount the clear trend that regions around the world are largely getting warmer.
What is Happening With Global Warming
So what is going on here? It is not our place to state with 100% certainty the cause of this clear trend to warmer temperature. Global warming in the pure sense of the phrase is a “truism”. It is getting warmer, globally. But why and what does it mean? This is where things can get a bit more speculative. We know from our study of earth’s past geological climates, that there have been phases in which the earth enters periods of global warming and cooling. In a previous post about the Neanderthals, we spoke about how the ice age which was a clear seasonal cooling trend, most likely impacted the survival of the Neanderthal species. But what about our current time and what if anything can we do to slow down this warming trend? From my vantage point, the evidence for mankind’s contribution to the global warming trend is quite strong. But, the slope of reasoning becomes much more slippery if one tries to assign complete fault. Is man mostly responsible for global warming? Is the long term geologic seasonal patterns responsible. Well, it certainly seems both share in the blame and my take is that mother Nature reigns supreme as the catalyst, but we can certainly muck things up given that minor variation in temperature can have devastating results across the globe. Hence, we cannot dismiss the influence of the “butterfly effect” on all things related to weather.
Global Warming Facts You May Not Have Heard
I suspect many of you have seen the ravages of weather and its impact on life, crops, and property. To what extent this clear and present global warming phenomenon will impact our planet and our species is not entirely well understood, though there are plenty of opinions, some more informed than others. Before we close, let me share a few interesting global warming facts.
1. Our Food chain is slowly being disrupted. There is about a week difference now in thaw and freeze dates that 150 years ago. With the earth population growing and with food and water and energy needs progressively becoming more challenging, adverse seasonal impacts on planting times and harvest is bad news.
2. Remember the dust bowl in the United States decades ago. It reaped destruction. With the agriculture belt advancing more to the north in the direction of Canada, the farm belt of the U.S. which large parts of the world have depended on for it food needs, may gradually be compromised. Texas and the Midwest have seen some rather adverse growing conditions these past few years. In the past, technology has bailed us out with higher crop yields from an acre of land, but this phenomenon has diminishing returns.
3. Over the last 40 years, the number of large hurricanes worldwide has doubled.
4. Higher carbon levels continue to be released into the atmosphere with every passing year and with research showing that this contributes to warmer temperatures it invokes the butterfly effect in that plants bloom earlier thereby creating more pollen, resulting ina much longer and intense allergy season.
5. Water sources are drying up. In the western U.S. about 75% of water used for people come from snow melt and with global warming, less snow will form.