Sunday, December 09, 2007

Global Warming: Is Al Gore's Glass Half Full, Or Just Cracked?

On Monday former US Vice President Al Gore, who served under Bill Clinton and lost the 2000 election because his home state of Tennessee, and Clinton's home state, Arkansas, didn't vote for him, will receive a Nobel Prize for warning the world about Global Warming.

Included in his efforts to play a sort of environmental Paul Revere, Gore produced a mocumentary - yes I know I used an 'm' not a 'd' - called An Inconvenient Truth, that to put it nicely has been found to be inconveniently and horribly inaccurate.

Gore's effort at using film for propaganda is so flawed, that in Great Britain, High Court Judge Michael Burton ruled, in response to a lawsuit by a parent, that showing the film in schools violates a law that bans promoting partisan political views in the classroom.

News reports say if the film is used as an educational tool in Britain they have to also show "opposing viewpoints." Opposing viewpoints should never have to be included in a class that is teaching scientific "facts" that are intended to alter global political and economic policy.

If they are disputed, then they aren't facts, they are opinions, in which case the class should be labelled "political" not "scientific."

One of the major pillars of the "Mankind, Especially George Bush, is Responsible for All Global Warming," school of thought, is that in this century the polar ice caps will melt. In the Word According to Gore, this will release water that now is trapped as ice and cause global sea levels to rise something in the neighborhood of 20 feet or more in the very near future.

That means most coastal cities would be inundated, sewage treatment plants at sea level would be rendered useless, hundreds of millions of inhabitants of coastal areas would have to flee to higher ground and the world economy would be in a shambles - except for moving companies, home and office construction companies, and retaining wall manufacturers and installers.

Fortunately, many other scientists have offered "opposing viewpoints." But they never lost a presidential election because their own home state and that of the president they served under voted for someone else. Thus their viewpoints don't hold as much water, pun intended, with those who vote to award Noble Prizes. (Another pun intended.)

This subject came up recently in a class I was teaching and I offered the following experiment to determine if it is true. First, remember that 90 percent of all ice bergs are under water, so whatever you see at the surface of the North Pole is only 10 percent of the total. (Check the movie Titanic for verification and good entertainment.)

Then remember that when water freezes it EXPANDS! OK, I'll cut you some slack here. Most of you didn't grow up in the time when milkmen delivered glass bottles of milk to people's homes. They carried the bottles in little metal baskets and put the fresh milk in boxes outside the front door where they also retrieved the empty bottles.

Anyone who grew up in this period remembers the clinking of milk bottles bumping up against each other in the milkman's carrier. If you missed that period of Americana, then you have also never experienced the phenomenon of a pillar of frozen cream sticking up out of the top of a milk bottle on a below freezing morning when you didn't bring the milk in fast enough.

On really, really cold mornings, if you were too slow, the frozen milk could expand far enough and fast enough to crack the bottle. But even if you didn't witness this yourself, basic high school science should have taught you the properties of water in its frozen, liquid and gaseous states.

Now, take a glass or cup of say, 12 ounce capacity. Your draft beer mug left over from summer picnics will do. Fill it to the brim with ice cubes. Don't go rounding it up and seeing how high you can stack it to skew the outcome here, just fill it to the brim with ice.

This cup of ice now represents the North Pole. I could say that is enough to complete the requirements of the experiment because a cup full of ice is a good representation of the polar ice cap. But just to give Al Gore more than his due, then put water in to fill in all the space not taken up by ice, and fill it right to the brim.

Then leave it on the counter in your kitchen, at room temperature, say 68 degrees, and walk away for a few hours. Do something else while global warming takes hold and melts all the ice. Guess what you will find when you come back?

No, there won't be a flood on the counter, although there may be some condensation on the cup that could form a ring. But inside the cup, once all the ice has melted, you will find that the water level has gone down! Why? Because when water cools and becomes ice it expands, but when it warms and becomes a liquid it contracts.

Thus, if the ice cap at the north pole melts completely, the sea levels world wide should go DOWN not UP, because all that ice below the surface, which is the vast majority of it, already is taking up far more space than liquid water would, and it is displacing the water around it which means it has already caused the sea levels to rise!

While you are pondering that little experiment, think about this. Ten thousand years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age, vast expanses of the Northern Hemisphere were covered by immense glaciers that were more than a mile high. Then global warming began, and all that ice that was over LAND began to melt, which did indeed cause the seas to rise because that ice had not previously been in the water.

For you conspiracy theorists, George Bush caused the end of the last Ice Age, which apparently was a halcyon period of human existence, just as he is causing this period of global warming. Bush is actually thousands of years old and is an alien who arrived here in a space vehicle at the end of the Jurassic period. (I'm kidding but I can't wait to see how that plays on the Internet.)

Those Ice Age glaciers were massive, as anyone who has ever planted crops in the Northeast can tell you. It ground up billions of rocks, which today have become decorative stone walls all across New England. The crushing weight of the glaciers created a soil condition termed "glacial till," and their movement created Long Island Sound, as well as Long Island. But eventually, 10,000 years ago, they went away.

Another one of the mainstays of the Global Warming is Caused by George Bush school of thought is to show pictures of Glacier National Park from the late 1800s and then compare them to pictures taken today. The glaciers have obviously receded.

In fact, some scientists have predicted that by the year 2030, there will be no more glaciers in Glacier National Park due to global climate change. OK. I get it.

Except, what I would like to see is a picture of the glaciers in Glacier National Park taken somewhere around 1300 A.D. If you could have photos from then you know what you'll see?

A marked absence of both glaciers and tourists. Many scientists who aren't getting a Noble Prize tomorrow say that the earth was much warmer in Biblical times, continuing through more than the next thousand years, and that about 700 years ago the earth came to the end of a long period of global warmth and entered what has been called a Mini-Ice Age.

I bet a really nice lunch that in areas of Glacier National Park where glaciers are disappearing now, there were few if any glaciers way back then when the earth was warmer and had been for much longer. Of course, George Bush probably did that too, just to mess with our minds. (See above paragraph on George Bush the alien.)

I know I'm being a wise ass here, but someone has to do it. Is the earth warming up? Apparently, although everything I have ever studied about weather patterns says they occur over a much longer time frame than the average US president's term in office.

Are glaciers receding and is polar ice melting? Yes, in some places. But we have much more to worry about from the ice over Greenland melting than the ice at the North Pole. (Every wonder why it's called GREENland? Ask the Vikings. They grew crops and tended cows and sheep there until the mini-Ice Age that started in the late 1300s put a permanent freeze on their farms.)

But there also is evidence that ice is forming elsewhere, which makes me wonder whether the earth has shifted on its axis in some imperceptible manner, making some areas colder and others warmer. Hey, I saw a Travel Channel feature last night that said Death Valley, California was once a sea bed on the equator. Apparently there was a similar shift millions of years ago, so why not now?

I am not ignoring Antarctica here. I have read that some sea ice is melting there too. But again, so what? If it is already in the water, it will have minimal affect on sea levels. Ice over land is another issue, but I also have read that the ice pack over the Antarctic continent is growing!

So what do we believe here? Well, I for one believe that use of fossil fuels is still polluting our air, water and earth regardless of whether it is contributing to climate change. I believe we should be working our butts off to find alternative fuels, and I don't mean corn, that don't pollute. We already have the technology, or are very close to it. Let's get back on the clean air and water bandwagons.

China is polluting far more than America, so why is Al Gore not over there trying to convince them to stop opening a coal fired electric plant every single week with little in the way of modern pollution controls? Pollution is a real global issue and is not limited to the United States and allied democracies.

I believe pollution is the issue, not climate change. I believe we should be working together, and the UN would be a great place to start if only the people who run it in New York City can get serious about their mission for a change. Pollution and waste of natural resources should be their targets,not power trips and lining their pockets.

I also believe that Al Gore can tell everyone he is a Noble Prize winner, but other than pocketing a wad of cash, the nature of his prize and the way it was awarded have cheapened its meaning to the point of being trivial. His tiny circle of elitists can say all they want, but most thinking people know what this award is really all about, and the one thing it is not about, is Global Warming.


David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 12/10/2007 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

James said...

Ron, I agree with you that we should be working on pollution and alternate energy sources for the sake of national security and public health.

It's been pretty conclusively proven that breathing particulate matter damages the lungs and causes health problems... and that cigarettes are not the only source of this particulate matter. Highway pollution, particularly in traffic has been shown to reduce the life expectancies of commuters. Although catalytic converters have served as effective smokestack scrubbers for automobiles, trucks and buses continue to produce significant pollution. This law was primarily targeted at passenger vehicles. However, trucks and larger SUVs are exempted from it. This has lessened its effectiveness, with the proliferation of these models as passenger vehicles. I agree with this law... if you have the money to buy a NEW car, you can afford the extra few hundred dollars for this technology. If you don't, you're probably trying to buy a car that is really beyond your means to afford. The nice thing about many of the new hybrids is that the internal combustion engines shut off at stoplights and when you're sitting in traffic. From an energy perspective, they conserve energy when braking instead of turning it into heat

With alternate energy, I think the issue is obvious. If it weren't for oil, the Middle East would unimportant. Alternate energy would unhitch our nation's fate from the political volatility of that region, meaning fewer wars and less conflict.

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