Like an old comfortable shoe, this topic has run through my fingers and keyboard so many times now, that I'm surprised that I again feel compelled to address the issue yet again. All too often, I hear folks discussing the weather, and leaping to astounding and absurd conclusions about "global warming".
The truth is, I can understand the confusion. While the talking heads jabber and issue proclamations about "global warming", my neighbors are just now cleaning up after a dog gone long hard winter that delivered some absolutely stinking cold days. It's tough to sell someone on the idea that our planet is warming up.
We all hear stories about the polar regions apparently undergoing substantial warming, with odd and sometimes alarming news coming from both the arctic and antarctic regions. World wide, alpine glaciers are going to h*## in a hand basket. The ice up high, and in the polar regions is telling us that it's too warm to conduct business as ice, but in many places where people live, the weather isn't getting warmer and nicer. Instead, some spots seem to be growing cooler. Many places are experiencing way nastier weather than previous generations haver ever seen as 100+ year old records fall like flies. In some places, it really is heating up, but the rains or the tornadoes, or the dust storms are getting so out of hand that it's just no fun anymore. The weather is tearing is up. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand that agriculture is at stake world wide.
So, just what the dickens is going on?
Well it's not too complicated actually, and the science behind the idea is sound. We really are changing the global climate as we charge the atmosphere with huge amounts of energy. Sadly, that does not immediately equate to extra "heat"as we commonly regard it. You can stand around and watch the thermometer as long as you want, and over the period of a life time you'll probably see it creep ever upwards, but you'll be way more impressed much sooner by that storm that just put your chicken coop in your neighbors tree, or the rains that washed out a 150 year old bridge, of that blizzard in late May that pinned you down just when your wife had to deliver a child.
This process is adding energy to the atmosphere. That means it's going to get pretty feisty. It can dissolve way more water and carry it a lot farther that it did before. It can suspend more things in the air for longer periods of time and carry it's load much farther. It can move more stuff faster over longer distances than before. It stirs the oceans with more vigor and gives up energy to them.
It's a change from the relative stability we have enjoyed for some time now. It is unstable. It is searching for a new, "more comfortable" higher energy configuration that the one we grew up with. Eventually it will settle down in new digs, with a more energetic ocean and atmosphere stirred up to some new speed we haven't seen before. Nobody knows for sure what that will look like, but we can probably kiss our industrialized civilization goodbye. Bye bye!
So the next time you hear about "global warming", think about a bunch of kids on sugar. Things are getting more rambunctious. They're not called gas LAWS for no reason.
Global warming was a poor choice of words.
Funny thing though, the heat is on.
chemistry texts, physics texts, meteorology texts, geology texts, etc.