Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Answering Questions About: Global Warming

Hi, all. It's Kiran here with some answers.

My dad doesn't believe in global warming. He says that since we've been having longer, colder winters, and the sun is apparently cooling, and since the earth emits more CO2 through geological processes every year than humans have in our entire history, global warming is a myth.

Well, Dad, let's look at some facts.

First of all, global warming doesn't mean everything gets a little warmer all at once. It mostly affects weather patterns. Think of the earth as a sweaty person. When a person sweats, their body cools due to evaporating water. Likewise, the earth's water evaporates more quickly as it warms, restoring its physical temperature. But now there's going to be much stronger precipitation, not to mention all the other weather anomalies that come with that. So even if the weather seems colder to us, that doesn't necessarily reflect the state of the planet.

Secondly, global warming has very little to do with the sun. Global warming is mostly caused by a buildup of "greenhouse gases" (such as methane and CO2) in the atmosphere. These gases act like blankets, catching the heat of the sun and holding it close to the earth. As humans contribute greenhouse gases through pollution and other means, we're throwing more blankets on the earth. The cooling sun is like turning the thermostat down a few degrees-- it's technically counteracting those blankets, but it's not making a noticeable difference.

Lastly, my dad argues that the earth naturally releases enormous amounts CO2 through volcanic activity, and that humans' impact is negligible in comparison. The earth does release greenhouse gases during seismic activity, but this statement severely underestimates the ability of humans to f*** s*** up. Before humans, the earth maintained a mostly stable temperature because there were so many trees around to absorb that CO2. Since the beginning of man, however, over half of Earth's forests have disappeared, leaving less trees to counteract earth's natural carbon emissions.

I don't have any numbers regarding total human CO2 output, but I know they're higher than people think. After all, carbon emissions from human-caused fires (including most forest fires) should be considered human emissions. And as humans build massive factory farms to feed expanding populations, all those animals release carbon just by respirating. That's not all, though. These farms also produce tons of methane. (And when I say tons, I mean it literally. Take a second to think about what air weighs. Now imagine how much air it takes to make a ton.) Methane isn't counted among carbon emissions, which is another reason the number seems so low. And don't get me started on all the other s*** (literally) that happens because of factory farms.

So that's what I know about global warming that my dad doesn't. Know any cool facts about global warming or have a question you want answered? Leave a comment below. Ciao.

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