Thursday, April 9, 2009

President Obama looking at cooling air to fight global warming - a commentary

In an article written today by AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein (full article), President Barack Obama's chief science advisor, John Holdren, claims that global warming is "happening so fast" that measures once dismissed as radical need to be discussed and considered. While Holdren states that using such experimental measures would be a "last resort," he feels it prudent enough to entertain the discussion - and apparently the White House agrees. Discussions are apparently ongoing with Cabinet level officials and others such as the EPA and NASA.

Holdren states, "We don't have the luxury ... of ruling any approach off the table." His take is that if nations do not act fast enough to slow global warming, "really intolerable consequences" could result, including the loss of summer sea ice in the Arctic (presumably as early as 2015), disastrous drought conditions, food shortages, rising sea level, and more powerful coastal storms.

Proposals discussed, considered "geoengineering," include:

* releasing sulfur particles in the upper atmosphere, which mimicks the effects of volcanic ash in screening out sunlight and could counteract the effect of greenhouse gas warming below
* creating artifical trees that would suck carbon dioxide out of the air, transport, and store it, thus reducing the greenhouse gas responsible for warming

The American Meteorological Society drafted it's own policy statement in March, still under review, which in effect states that it is prudent to consider the potential of geoengineering, to "understand its limits and to avoid rash deployment." It suggests that there should be a full and complete examination of all possible consequences, both expected and unexpected, prior to proceeding.

My take: While an increase in greenhouse gases, particularly CO2 and other particulate matter, is an issue that should be dealt with on a global scale, there is little support among climatologists who are not funded by politically-driven entities or organizations that global warming is either A) as dire as made out to be by the popular press, or B) not driven MUCH more significantly by natural and/or astronomical processes, with a slight (though likely quantifiable) anthropogenic (or human-induced) effect. It is indeed prudent to consider and implement methods to "reduce our carbon footprint" and "go green," as pop culture has espoused. However, to follow this path simply because of an unhealthy level of fear, guilt, or alarmism, created by those who report the "facts" based on a political or ideological agenda, is foolish.

Sources to consider:
* Astronomical Theory on Climate Change (how orbital variations cause climate change) - NOAA website
* Pat Michaels, Sr. Fellow at Cato Institute, in an interview with FOX News on 4/9/09 - video
* The Cato Institute's Climate Change website - website
* U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Minority Report - link to report
* Scientists Speak Out Against Alarmist Warming Theory, an Open Letter to the UN Secretary General, December 13, 2007 - letter
* AMS Draft Statement on Geoengineering - statement

1 comment:

Eddie Holmes said...

Very well put, Erik. Thanks!