Planet Earth Weekly

Climate Change and Renewable Energy: Saving Our Planet for Future Generations


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Global warming and climate change

Global mean surface temperature difference fro...

Global mean surface temperature difference from the average for 1880–2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By John Hidore
October 5, 2013—A Greek philosopher named Heraclitus (c. 500 BC) is reported to have stated “there is nothing permanent except change.” Nothing could be more certain than continuing change in the global environment. It has been changing since the formation of the planet some billions of years ago. What is significant about change today is the rate at which the planet is changing. Now hardly a day goes by without world news focusing on some event on the planet marked by changes in our environment. These events include global warming, acid rain, ozone depletion, deforestation, and the elimination of species. Any change in our environment has an impact on the human species and changes effect more people each day than ever before in history. The reason is simple. The global population is growing at a tremendously rapid rate. Next to the exploding number of humans on the planet, global warming and climate change is in all likelihood the most pressing problem facing every living species on the planet.

In 1896 Svanti Arrenius revealed that the likely effect of adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere would warm global temperatures. Carbon dioxide has now reached the highest level in the past million years and growth has exceeded the forecasts made just 13 years ago. As a consequence global temperatures are climbing faster than at any time in history. The decade of 2003-2012 was the warmest ever recorded in the United States and June 2012 through August 2012 global temperatures were the warmest ever recorded.

The volume of climatic data documenting the warming of the planet has exploded. Automated weather stations are now present in many isolated areas of the land masses. Data from the atmosphere over the ocean has also grown dramatically. Not only is more data available from shipping, but floating buoys record and transmit data to collection centers. The number of satellites that monitor atmospheric data have grown rapidly and the variety of data has expanded. New environmental oriented satellites are sending online data and many are in planning.

A big change in recent decades has been the increasing international concern that Earth’s climate is warming and the impact of that warming. Climate change and global warming are common items in the news media. Global conferences such as the Kyoto Conference, and the work of Al Gore and the International Panel on Climate Change present a consensus that the problem of climate change is a very serious one. Closely paralleling the prevailing viewpoint of most world scientists was the recent action taken by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. This group of scientists developed the Doomsday Clock in 1947 based on the threat of nuclear war. Midnight on the clock is the projected time of global catastrophe. In January of 2007 the clock was moved forward from seven minutes until midnight, to five minutes before the hour. The acceleration towards midnight was made when global warming was added to the nuclear threat.

Almost as soon as the world became aware of the problem of global warming, energy and automobile companies began a major effort to discredit the scientific data. The effort continues today. For years the propaganda was aimed at denying that carbon dioxide was in fact increasing. When in the last few years the evidence became overwhelming, the propaganda changed to refuting the evidence that the increase in carbon dioxide was a function of the burning of fossil fuels. They have taken the position that the changes are natural changes with nothing to do with human activity. Today this campaign is still proceeding with millions of dollars being spent to prevent any action being taken to reduce carbon emissions. Only when enough people demand that energy polices and consumption change will anything be done to stop global warming.

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