written on 1996-03-05

I am concerned about global warming. Most people have a dangerous misconception about global warming. They think that things will be just a little warmer - hardly enough to notice.   This belief is far from reality.

Just what does global warming mean? The first thing it means is that there is more energy in the atmosphere. Think of a pot on the stove which is simmering -- when you raise the heat, the simmer turns into a boil. Global warming has a similar effect. Because there is more energy in the atmosphere it will be more turbulent. This means stronger storms, higher highs, lower lows, and more rapid changes. (We are now [2013] seeing New England winter highs above 60F, spring and fall lows below 0F, unseasonably cold days in the summer, and changes within days of each other.)

The average temperature is rising enough to allow animal and plant species to migrate toward the poles as well as into higher altitudes. This migration changes the entire ecosystem of the planet. It will change the distribution of the bio-mass on the planet and affect the way rain is absorbed as well as the way foliage transpires moisture. These changes will alter the pattern of rainfall on the planet, creating more floods where there were less and droughts where there had been plenty of water.

We are already seeing stronger than normal winds. The hurricane season will be extended (start sooner, last longer, and have more storms), and the storms will be stronger. We are seeing this already. (1996)

How can you and I help? We must simply reduce our energy consumption. There are three ways to do this.

1. Directly reduce our energy usage.

Economize across the board. Turn lights out when not in use, use clothes and other material things a little longer. Eat less. Drive less. Watch less TV, use stairs instead of elevators, etc..

2. Improve the efficiency of our energy usage.

Change to energy efficient bulbs, buy more energy efficient appliances. Find out what the total energy costs of our products are and see which ones take less. Eat a larger percentage of vegetables and grains and a lower percentage of meat. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables more than canned ones. Use fewer disposable products. (A reusable product often requires less production energy per use than disposable ones.) Choose items which use less packaging, etc.

3. Recycle everything.

It is usually cheaper to manufacture goods from recycled materials, because the refining costs are generally less. This takes less energy. Less energy used in manufacturing means less energy ultimately being dumped into the atmosphere.

The time to take action is NOW.

Global Warming Update NOAA, National Climatic Data Center

May 6, 2013: The Climate Change Report was released today, - 18 years after I first wrote the above.   Save ourselves from the planet.  It will get rid of us if we don't stop changing our environment. It took us millions of years to evolve to accommodate the environment as it was before the industrial revolution.  Now, we are changing it much, much, faster than we can evolve, even with the machine age. 

This page was updated by Ralph Kenyon on 2014/05/06 at 12:48 and has been accessed 12309 times at 35 hits per month.