By Timothy Eastridge, Contributing Writer
Global warming is one of those topics about which many people get very touchy. So, why am I writing this article when Kentucky has just had the coldest temperatures in its recorded history?
Let’s start off with some simple yes/no fact-based questions:
Does correlation prove causation? No.
Are the atmospheric and ocean temperatures warmer now than they have been in the past 1,300 years? Yes.
Has the earth gone through natural cycles of heating and cooling in the past? Yes.
Is atmospheric carbon dioxide significantly higher than it has been in the past 500,000 years? Yes, and exponentially growing.
Does the correlation of carbon dioxide growth and global temperatures rising mean that carbon dioxide is the cause of higher global temperatures? No, not necessary.
Although scientist are so far unable to prove carbon dioxide itself is raising the atmospheric and oceans’ temperatures, 97% of climate specialists agree that the warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities.
Some more facts that we should consider:
– Global sea-levels have risen about 6.7 inches in the last century with the rate in the last decade nearly double that of the past century.
– 10 of the warmest years in recorded history have occurred in the past 12 years. 2014 was the warmest year yet.
– The oceans absorb much of the increases in atmospheric heat. The ocean has warmed 0.302 degrees since 1969.
– Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by about 30 percent. This increase is the result of humans emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and hence more being absorbed into the oceans.
– Greenland lost 36 to 60 cubic miles of ice per year between 2002 and 2006, while Antarctica lost about 36 cubic miles of ice between 2002 and 2005.
Although scientists are unable to look at thermometers from thousands of years ago, trees store information about the climate hundreds of years ago. Also, information is about climate is stored under oceans and lakes when sediment has been formed. Sediment preserves bits and pieces of information from millions of years ago. Lastly, scientists drill cores through the Earth’s polar ice sheets that give clues on the Earth’s atmosphere—frozen in time.
Why does it matter if the earth is slightly warmer? Well, when the ice-caps begin to melt the sun light is no longer reflected back into space. Instead, the sun’s heat directly heats the ocean creating what is called a ‘positive cycle’ that does not correct itself but continues to worsen.
Recent weather events such as deadly heat waves, devastating floods and Kentucky’s “snowpocalypse” raise the question of whether global warming has a role in driving extreme weather conditions. In other words, extreme weather conditions, or weather volatility, could be a reason Kentucky has seen such a harsh winter or why Australia is having unprecedented hot and dangerous temperatures this year.
I think it is important to pay attention to evidence that the global climate may be permanently changing. As the volatility in temperatures continues to rise throughout the world, perhaps we should consider buying cheap real-estate in Alaska now and plan to pass it on to our future generations… Or take more practical measures to ensure we leave a sustainable, stable world for the next generation.