Gadfly by Mort Malkin
Establishment environmentalists tell us: to change our light bulbs to energy saving compact fluorescents, to turn down the thermostat three degrees in winter and raise it three degrees in summer, to drive three mph slower on the highway and use public transit in town … As if the warming of the planet is all our fault. How many degrees of guilt shall we have?
Gadfly’s plan is to set the record straight and lay blame where it is rightly deserved. First, however, we must get down to the basics of language so we may make the politicos feel the heat. Global “Warming” makes it sound like we all will enjoy more glorious weather, and increase jobs in the bargain (with the devil). “We,” of course won’t include the victims of floods in the upper Midwest, or the victims of wildfires in Colorado and Arizona, or ranchers in Texas or farmers in California suffering from record droughts, or the recent contagion of tornados in Arkansas and across the rest of the South, or the victims of Hurricane Katrina or SuperStorm Sandy … So, for them and for the rest of us who believe the reports of 99% of climate scientists – it will be Global Heating or Overheating.
Next on the linguistic agenda is Climate “Change.” Actually, Climate Change will be easier. It is already accepted as reality by most folks, unless their names are James Inhofe of Oklahoma or Rick Perry of Texas. Climate Change, moreover, does not always seem so terrible. There are some days of rain and dreary weather that most of us would trade in for sunshine. But, a few scientists – just a few — who are facing reality are starting to call it Climate Chaos. Perhaps, you would prefer Climate Collapse or Cacophony or Calamity or Catastrophe.”
The final term will be both easier and harder to correct. Easier, because no one is much speaking about Tipping Points, and we won’t have to go up against the tongue of the media or the public. Harder, because it is scarier and the government ostriches [no, that’s not fair to the ostriches] don’t want to scare anyone. They are happy to let the public think the Tipping Point is highly technical and must be so fraught with equations, computer models, and projections, that even NASA is silent.
Well, the Gadfly Revelry & Research team did some internet research and had a couple of brainstorming sessions; and they came up with concept and particulars that even our public servants in Congress could understand. NASA is silent, it seems, for political reasons.
Here are the basics. There are some eight or ten climate mechanisms, each of which has started to form a self sustaining cycle to accelerate Global Heating. Let’s start with one that is fairly straightforward: the melting of glaciers and shrinking of sea ice in the Arctic, a matter of record of at least the last hundred years. Why, there are summers now when there is open water over the North Pole. Ice and snow, being white, used to reflect the sun’s rays back into space and keep the Earth in the Goldilocks zone the year round. Lately, more earth and sea are exposed to absorb more of the sun’s rays, thus forming a feedback loop which results in yet more melting and, thereby, more heating. A Tipping Point occurs when the cycle becomes a chain reaction of overheating, and nothing we can do will stop the process.
Of the several climate mechanisms, each has its own “Tipping Point” when it becomes self perpetuating. Let’s look a second mechanism. Much of the CO2 of the atmosphere, a primary greenhouse gas, is absorbed by the oceans making them more acidic. The more acidic they become, the less additional CO2 they will be able to absorb, leaving more in the air. And the carousel goes round.
A third climate mechanism is the increase in bacterial activity in the soils of temperate zone forests as a result of Global Heating. With more rapid decaying of the organic matter of fallen leaves, dead trees, and animal poop — an increased amount of CO2 enters the atmosphere, causing a further increase in heating, and on and on.
For the fourth we have to deal with a partner of carbon dioxide (CO2), the gas, methane (CH4), which is 25 times as potent in its greenhouse effect. Till recently, we didn’t have to worry. The trillions of tons of methane held in Arctic soils were kept locked up by the permafrost. But, that was before the permafrost became a gigantic vanilla melt during summer months. The amount of methane now being released each year is measured in billions of tons, which will increase global temperatures, which in turn will melt more permafrost …
When all the Tipping Points average up to a Point of No Return, nothing we do will be able to stop the progression. Some of the climate mechanisms are not completely understood, and the scientists will say only what they are sure of, but in private, some climatologists tell us we have just three to five years before it’s game over. Scary! And what politician would want to scare the public? Gadfly says We the People had better scare Congress and the White House a little or they’ll carry on as usual. So, let’s talk about the Tipping Point but call it by its rightful (if scary) name: the “Point of No Return.”
For the die-hard climate denialists who may need a little extra fright, the GRR team reviewed the climate literature and found a couple of candidates. First, was the formation of large lakes on the surface of the Greenland ice sheet and their sudden disappearance through crevasses to the base of the ice. Thus, the glaciers can slide on the water down to the sea. It has already started. The second is the beginning of the shut down of the Gulf Stream and other ocean currents as a result of warming water and less salinity of the water because of a combination of melting glaciers and less formation of sea ice. When the Gulf Stream shuts down, the warmer tropical waters stay down near the Equator, heat up further, and evaporate more. The best kept secret is that water vapor is also a greenhouse gas. We must spread the word.
What to do about Global Heating and Climate Cacophony will be worth another essay; but of the hundred or more things we all can do, the first three are: to call up our elected politicians, to email our elected politicians, and to write to our elected politicians. Tell them of the true terminology of Global Heating and Climate Chaos and teach them about the Point of No Return. After all, 70% of all emissions are caused by the transportation sector and power plants, over which they have a major say.
Global Heating is our fault only in electing people who are in the pay of Exxon, Chevron, and Halliburton.