There is a debate in the scientific community about the supposed effects of global cooling as compared to the alleged consequences of global warming. To those not initiated in the intricacies of the debate and wondering what on earth this is all about, global cooling might appear to be the latest fad after global warming. Rather than tossing the latter around like a political football, here are some facts.
What is global cooling?
In simplest terms, the notion of global cooling involves a gradual establishment and noted increase in the growth of glaciers. A brainchild of 1970’s scientific understanding, it was generally believed that since the mid 1940s the earth was gradually cooling. In 1968 author Paul Ehrlich commented on the phenomenon by asserting that the use of fossil fuels released particles into the air which would filter out some sunlight and thus produce a gradual cooling of the earth.
Global cooling is brought on by global dimming.
Terming the process of an increase in the atmosphere’s particle count due to human interference in natural processes as a global dimming, scientists have shown that a noticeable decrease in temperature has been detected over the course of decades. In addition to the foregoing, condensation trails that are produced by jet aircrafts are also shown to have a contributing effect on the global dimming and thus the overall global cooling.
The Nature website published an August 2002 article that focused on the relationship between the aircraft grounding in the wake of the 9-11 attacks and the subsequent increase in the earth’s temperature by about 1° Celsius.
Opponents of what some have named a pseudo science while others call it the religion of the church of Al Gore decry global warming, pointing to both global dimming as well as global cooling as a fact that proves Mr. Gore et. al. wrong.
What is global warming?
The effects of global warming, such as they are currently presented, claim that instead of leading to global cooling, the use of fossil fuels is leading to an overall earth warming trend that may be measured most distinctly in the oceans. Citing changes in solar irradiance they have traced back to the 1750s and also referring to water vapor increases within the earth’s atmosphere, scientists associated with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have claimed an overall increase in the earth’s surface temperature of 0.56° Celsius in a 100 year period, with the recent five decades showing an alarming increase in the heat generation.
Effects of global warming (such as they are anticipated) center on the change of ecosystems and the potential for the subsequent destruction of species and habitats; this in turn will adversely affect the overall habitability of the planet by humans as extremes in weather patterns and also destruction of crops are being feared. Add to this proposed increases in disease causing organisms that are no longer controlled by their natural enemies, and the recipe for disaster appears ready for human consumption!
I see your global warming and raise you a global cooling!
No matter which side of the debate you are on, you will without a doubt find extensive writing to bolster your argument. Scientists on the side of global cooling are just as eloquent, highly educated, and infatuated with their research as those who are firmly ensconced in the global warming camp. Both sides claim a relationship with the global dimming proponents and thus believe that their research alone is correct.
Truth be told, who is right or wrong is substantially immaterial. If you don’t like Al Gore, great! Believe in global cooling. If you worship at the altar of global warming and do not see the jet setting of politicians decrying climate changes as the ultimate inconvenient truth … as you were!
As early as 1971, visionary scientist Cesare Emiliani pointed out that all the data at his disposal point to an imminent and substantial change in weather patterns due to pollution caused by humankind and while either a new ice age or conversely a melting of the ice caps and a catastrophic rising of sea levels may be the result, the lack of appeal of either outcome needs to lead to a change in humankind’s behavior.
Why the recent interest in the effects of global cooling versus global warming?
Although it stands to reason that no matter which side of the debate you are supporting, the fact that human activity has an impact on the planet is undeniable. What is sparking the recent controversy about global cooling and global warming may quite possibly be democratic nominee hopeful Barack Obama who in 2007 discussed the latter in a New Hampshire speech. As he appears more and more to be the candidate to beat in November, it is not surprising that opponents will seek out any and all potential weaknesses, including the climate change debate.
Going by the wayside in the politicizing climate change is the realization that it matters precious little if it is getting cooler or warmer: the use of fossil fuels is adversely affecting the environment of the world in which we live, and while fish might swim in the same water in which they defecate, humans do not have to follow their example.
Decisive action with respect to cleaner energy solutions makes sense not for the sake of being on the right side of the issue, but for the sake of having the option to still leave the house in a century without the need for a gasmask or being able to sustain the world’s population without the threat of climate change induced crop failures. When you’re starving, it really is immaterial if the causation may be found in the increase or decrease of the world’s temperature.
Paul Ehrlich, The Population Bomb, 1968
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007
Cesare Emiliani, 1971
Barack Obama New Hampshire speech, 2007