Climate Change, Fact and Fiction

Climate and Earth

by Jayaram V

It is more likely that the planet will be destroyed by human greed, ignorance, or delusion than any natural causes or climate change. Jayaram V

Leaders of 196 countries met in Paris in December, 2015 and passed a resolution to slowdown climate change by keeping the temperature under control and by reducing or eliminating the use of fossil fuels. It is difficult to make so many countries come together and agree on a common purpose. Obviously, there will be problems in its implementation, since the agreement is not mandatory and funding of the program is uncertain. On the surface, the agreement seems to be an oversimplification of a complex issue, as if the earth is one uniform bio-geological system and as if the earth climate and temperatures depend upon only the external factors rather than the internal. This discussion is about the practicality of one aspect of that resolution, which is about keeping the rise of global temperatures below a certain threshold.

For many people in the world, climate is the new world religion. For them, the dooms day scenarios presented by environmental groups is inevitable. They are convinced that the earth is dying a slow death and if the current rate of degradation is continued, it may as well become another Venus, with radiation from outer space and dangerous gaseous and acid laden clouds from within, which will render it uninhabitable and drive the humanity into near or total extinction. Since these claims enjoy a wider support from the scientific community and secular media, they are taken for granted.

The earth is a unique planet. It is the only planet that we know with certainty which supports life. We cannot therefore, be irresponsible about it. We are literarily floating in a vast and mysterious vacuum which is filled with the deadliest radiation. What protects us from the deathly outer space is a thin layer of atmosphere. It is therefore imperative that we have to go about the problem of climate change with great caution without letting it become monopolized by a few vested groups. The following are a few reasons why we should keep an open mind about the subject and not resort to generalizations and simplistic solutions. It is important to remember that historically human beings are not good at controlling natural systems. They are good at exploiting them, but not effective in protecting them or preserving them.

1. The earth is too ancient and too big to conduct meaningful research on it in a haphazard manner. The earth does not have a uniform climate or weather. It is better to deal with the climate problems, environment and weather patterns locally rather than globally. Each area falls in a specific climate zone, which requires careful analysis and specific strategy to deal with the problem that are specific to that area. For example, there is no proof that temperatures rise uniformly throughout the world. It is therefore, better to study each climate zone separately and involve the local governments, people, environmental groups, and scientists in that effort.

2. The current approach is based upon the assumption that the current problems and factors will remain the same or become worse for the next few decades, ignoring the long-term picture. A million years ago there were no humans. We had a spike in the human population in the last 100 years only. The population will probably decline in another hundred years or so, while more energy efficient technologies will emerge. It is therefore better to view the problem in a much a broader timeframe, rather than tinkering with the planet based upon our current problems and technology inefficiencies.

3. Earth has a history of over two billion years, whereas our study of climate is hardly 50 years old. Even that is also confined to a few regions in the world. Therefore, while one may study the climate and draw conclusions, we do not know how that knowledge is reliable or useful to understand the changes that happen to the planet from time to time. Currently, we are also not in a position to anticipate the long-term rise and fall in earth temperatures or time related natural changes that may happen in its core and sub-systems.

4. The earth has a variable temperature. It changes from hour to hour, region to region, season to season and perhaps epoch to epoch. We do not have the wherewithal or the infrastructure to collect and collate the temperatures and weather conditions of all regions in the world in real time and use that data effectively and meaningfully to understand and regulate the forces and processes that play an important role in the life of the planet or its climate.

5. The changes in earth temperature happen due to various reasons. Greenhouse effect is just one of them. There is no scientific proof that if you control greenhouse gases, the climate of the earth or the problem of increased temperature will disappear for good. No one knows much about solar cycles and how the processes and changes in the Sun temperatures and in earth's core will affect the planet temperatures, climate, and atmosphere.

6. The earth has oceans that are miles deep, where the water is almost at freezing temperatures. So is the case with the ice in the polar regions. In some places the glaciers are a mile deep. It is difficult to believe that a mere difference of one or two degrees in the temperature will have any significant impact upon the ocean waters or cause the ice in the glaciers to melt. There is no scientific proof that it will cause the oceans to overflow. For all practical purposes the so called greenhouse effect is a theoretical and speculative hypothesis.

7. No one has a clue about the pattern of ice formation in the polar regions, and how they undergo seasonal or epochal change. Until a hundred or so years ago, no one ever set foot on them. It is only since the last few decades that we have started studying them. The melting of glaciers cannot be a considered a valid proof that it is happening due to increase in temperatures only rather than the combine effect of natural and manmade causes, and the aging of the earth. According to one recent study, the total ice mass in the Arctic has increased rather than decreased

8. The earth is a living organism, just like any biological system. It has its own order and regularity, the problem of aging and decay, and cycles of change, about which we have little knowledge. Climate is just one part of it. We have no idea how the earth ages and what problems may arise in its systems due to changes in time and in the functioning of Nature. Our current understanding of it is very limited, and we have no clue how the planet may change and adapt and how Nature might evolve or facilitate change. We are not in control of all factors and variables that affect the earth.

9. The earth is not an isolated cosmic object. It receives tons of cosmic dust each year and millions of megatons of energy from outer space. No one knows how the earth absorbs all that extra-terrestrial stuff and copes with it. Similarly, no one knows how many tons of earth molecules are lost to space each year. Any predictions about the rise of the seas or changes in climate must consider all these factors. No one knows how the increase or decrease in the earth mass will influence its future course, life on the planet, and support systems.

10. Nature itself is not a perfect and complete mechanism. It has a lot of instability, variable parts, unpredictable processes, inefficiencies, excesses, and shortcomings. The present day climate studies are based on the assumption that Nature is a perfect  mechanism, and humans are altering it with their actions. They are ignoring that Nature is a self-learning system which not only evolves, adapts, and creates conditions for change but also uses them to further its aims. Those who study ecology are familiar with the changing patterns of each ecosystem and how the species that predominate in it are regularly replaced by newer ones due to the self-destructive nature of evolving species.

There are also ethical and integrity issues, which are associated with the study and research on climate change and environment. There is a certain alarmist propaganda that goes unchecked with the claims made by some environmental groups. For example, statistical evidence is doctored by some scientists to prove their point. Many documentaries about climate change use alarmist images of tidal waves, storms, melting glaciers, floods, bursting volcanoes, slums, etc., to influence public opinion. Most of them are related to natural events rather than any catastrophe caused by climate change and aimed to create fear and insecurity.

Climate study needs a holistic, planetary approach. It cannot be done on a limited scale or in a fragmentary manner. The whole planet needs to be studied as a single unit and all the data from various parts of the world must be collated and processed for a sustained period of time to arrive at valid conclusions. We cannot also let climate study being hijacked for selfish purposes by a few countries, corporations and environment groups. We need advanced information systems to process the data of such a magnitude.

The present approach is dangerously limited and unreliable, as if you can cure a disease by merely checking the pulse. The emphasis should be on keeping the planet clean and safe with a grassroots level approach, rather than controlling and regulating the earth temperatures through government regulations, with particular focus upon the following.

  1. Emphasis on creating innovative and cost effective technologies that will lead to better housekeeping, improved safety mechanisms and sanitary conditions.
  2. Protecting marine life from predatory and destructive fishing and mining operations that cause permanent damage to the earth and the oceans.
  3. Protecting the forests from the degradation caused by human exploitation, using better forest management techniques and, punitive laws.
  4. Protecting wildlife from poachers and illegal traders through a global initiative, and imposing heavy penalties and trade embargoes on governments and organizations that do not cooperate.
  5. Recycling of waste materials to improve sanitation and conserve natural resources.
  6. Preservation of water bodies and river systems.
  7. Preventing corruption in the misuse of funds allotted for climate research and environmental studies.
  8. Review of emerging technologies, since some of them like the wind turbines seem to be more detrimental to the environment and to wildlife than the conventional technologies such as fracking.

Keeping the earth and the environment clean and safe is everyone’s responsibility. The focus should be on keeping the environment clean rather than regulating the climate and greenhouse gases through government regulation and bureaucratic supervision. An important subject like climate should not be usurped by a few government agencies and vested groups for monetary gains, to impose extra taxes, or for political and ideological propaganda. Nor should they be allowed to increase government control over people and businesses. Climate science should be free from politics and false narratives. The study of climate should be part of a broader approach to understand the functioning of the planet so that the knowledge gained from it can be used in future to colonize and transform inhospitable and uninhabitable planets in our solar system.

At the same we cannot ignore the climate problem simply because sufficient data in not available. Until enough data is collected we must keep an open mind and remain vigilant. Climate is going to change for one reason or another. Therefore, we cannot let religious bigots, vested interests, and irrational people to oppose genuine, scientific research or influence the public policy. It is foolhardy to believe that you can interfere with the processes of the earth and nothing will happen. Change is the very nature of our existence and change will happen overtime whether we deny it or not.

Human actions are going to be impact the world and change the way the earth functions and supports life. The fear of certain businesses and industries about how the government may interject itself in the matter is genuine. It is very likely that governments in many countries may take advantage of the climate fears and impose taxes. Certain political and social groups may also use it to restructure the world on political or ideological lines. Such fears can be allayed, if the governments in various parts of the world, stay focused on climate change rather than exploiting the situation to increase their revenue or push their ideological agenda.

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