Thawing Alaska

Posted by Brennan Walter | Saturday, April 25, 2009 | 1 comments »

My first attempt at a political reprieve is this: the plight of Global Warming.

First, this post is dedicated to my sister, Laura Walter, whose dedicated position on the detrimental effect that humans have had on climate in the last few decades.

The context of this post, is written entirely as a response to my cousin, Andrew Schecter, who in a recent post claimed that humans alone can't destroy the environment. The context of which, and the ensuing debate with my sister can be viewed here: Back to Basics
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The problem with the entire debate, is failure on both sides of the argument to completely comprehend the entire issue at hand. However, the first step to solving a problem, as you know, is admitting you have one. This, the problem is that we haven't rectified that we are, in fact, at issue in the debate. In fact, numbers just make sense. Based on ice core samples being taken out of the antarctic ice sheets (which are falling apart into the Ocean), we can measure atmospheric Co2 levels all the way back to when Antarctica moved reciprocated into it's current position at the breakup of Pangaea. Now, the breakup of Pangaea was a long time ago, and it took some time for the magnetic poles to rotate to their current position, and for the continental drift to put Antarctica in that exact spot, but the point is, we have LOTS of data from the ice sheets of how Co2 levels compared to that of the modern day.



The graph on the right shows the average Co2 rates for the last few years. as you can see, the graph goes up, showing that the either the rate that we are dumping C02 into the air is rising, or the rate at which it is being absorbed is decreasing. Now, its probably attributed to both, but the rate, although misrepresented by the graph's scale, is great. The graph on the left, shows a larger range of dates, but we can see that during the same time period, and especially during the industrial revolution and the widespread use of the automobile vs. other forms of mass transportation (trains, trams, etc.) during the '60s and '70s correspond to a greater average world temperature. Now, although these two graphs were the easiest to find, others abound on the wide range of Al Gore's internet. Didn't he do a great job?
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Andrew Schecter, the cousin of mine who incited this great debate, posed an interesting solution to the climate crisis in "Thawing Alaska-" hence, the name of this second post. The idea is, letting the world warm up to the point that global temperature, especially in the polar areas as it is already doing, melts the ice caps would create enough arable land to sustain a greater number of people on the earth. Cool. (no pun intended)

Methane gas is 10 times as potent as a greenhouse gas as that of Carbon Dioxide. Thus, the effect of putting one ppm of methane is equivalent of 10 ppm of Co2. If you accept the simple fact that rising C02 levels have a correlation with a higher average global temperature, a large amount of methane in the air would be a huge wake-up call.

Now lets think about this. If methane is a highly potent gas, shouldn't states with lots of methane be focused on more than states or causes of C02 pollution? Well, sadly no. The largest producer of methane in the entire world is not a factory, its the Ocean. The Ocean contains billions of tons of methane stored at the bottom of the ocean in the form of ice. Its frozen! However, large amounts of the potent gas are released into the atmosphere on a daily basis in areas where the Ocean is shallower and warmer, the most perfect example is that of the Bermuda Triangle. Oh yeah, Methane gas is also much lighter than water. Or, if water or air has incredibly high amounts of methane in it, you can't fly in it because there isn't enough atmospheric oxygen, and you certainly can't float in it because the pressure pushing back on your boat's hull isn't great enough to sustain buoyancy. Large releases of methane gas have been documented on film and are available on Youtube.

I've actually been a culprit of a mass methane release, when wading down a local creek, I stepped on some old leaves at the bottom of the creekbed, and gas started forcing itself to the surface in large amounts, and it became harder to walk in the water and get out.

Anyway, the Ocean releases a lot of methane into the air in the Bermuda triangle and I just found out that I'm really good about going off on a tangent.

The conclusions one can draw from this are astounding. Scientists speculate that the oceans need only rise, on average, 6 degrees for the deep-sea methane reserves to begin rushing to the surface. After that, they expect that the reaction from this would be so significant that the reaction wouldn't stop, and that so much of the sun's heat is trapped inside the atmosphere that the earth would turn into something exactly like the planet Venus. Until the methane dissipated out into space over millions of years, we'd just be a very, very hot ball of gas floating around the sun. Venus has water in its atmosphere, but no oceans... huh...

Even if these facts are extreme, imagine if the methane levels were not enough to drive us to Armageddon, but think of all the water that would come from melting Alaska. All the glaciers, and all the atmospheric ice. Everything.

An evil, liberal hippy hates San Francisco

Okay, so its Armageddon, but that is seriously what we're looking at if we go on not acknowledging we're part of the problem. Its not a lack of information- any of the facts I've just presented can be found at any worthwhile research institute. Kansas State's own environmental research station at the Konza Prairie has shown an average increase in temperature every year for the last several years- the facts are there, and so is a load of ignorance. My absolute favorite quote of all time ever and everywhere is this:

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”
- Galileo Galilei

Use your minds, they were given to you by God to be used. God has endowed us with these facts and intelligence, not for us to refute him on His behalf, but so we can use them for His benefit. Don't you think God wants us to protect this thing he made for us? Think of the potential sins we've done in the simple ignorance of our own achievements!

1 comments

  1. Andrew Schechter // April 25, 2009 at 4:01 PM  

    Brennan,

    I heard through the grapevine, aka Jaime, that you had started a blog. Good stuff. I look forward to hearing your perspective. I will challenge you on some points. I am ignorant on many levels, so that is why I love these discussions. Iron sharpens iron.

    I find that many of these issues challenge our philosophy and assumptions more than the data we might use to support our positions, so I look forward to hearing more about how you view the world, your personal philosophy, and the assumptions that guide you.

    Yes, I said that maybe Alaska thawing out could benefit us. This is within the context of evolution. I personally believe in Young Earth Creation. If I have the power to influence the environment, so that it can work as God intended, I will.

    The graphs on display are common, but very misleading. Those graphs show data we have measured with a thermometer. I have many problems with taking this graph at face value.
    1) If the earth has really been around for billions of years, should we take a snapshot of 150 years and assume we are seeing anything significant?
    2) According to this site (and I have seen other sources like it), ice core data going back 425,000 years shows that we have seen warmer periods and cooler periods across the globe than we have seen in our lifetimes. http://199.6.131.12/en/scictr/watch/climate_change/change.htm ----- The temperature has always fluctuated, even with no factories around.
    3) Given the alternatives to sustain life, would we rather see gradual increases or decreases in global temperatures? I'm not sure about the mercury filled atmosphere, but I would guess that a planet covered in ice wouldn't be much more habitable.

    Also, within the confines of evolution lies natural selection. The strong survive. Are we supposed to think that we are as advanced as we will ever be, and billions of years of evolution should stop now, to accomodate our current lifestyle?

    It is inevitable that we will ultimately talk about the origin of species. I am interested to hear your view (young earth creation, old earth creation, or evolution).

    I agree wholeheartedly that we should protect what God has given us. The part that really scares me is that are government is taking a miniscule amount of knowledge, and creating laws based on it; under the guise of our best interests.

    The quote you have posted by Benjamin Franklin is very interesting. I am curious if you REALLY believe it. Through legislation like "cap and trade" our government is doing exactly that. Taking away a little of our liberty to ensure a little of our safety. At least the supposed safety of future generations. The liberal progressive movement is ALL about taking a little liberty to ensure a little safety. It's a nanny state mentality.

    I think we should all be personally responsible to benefit, and not harm the environment; but we should not be forced in that direction. In the country that our founders created, any individual would be free to take up a cause, and promote its benefits. For their own gain, or for others. But not forced to believe or behave a certain way.

    We are being forced to support causes that infringe on many of our liberties, from both the republican and democratic sides. This is what scares me. Sorry for taking the global warming comment off on this tangent.

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