Chilling news on global warming
The Plain Dealer
Sturgeon's Law, as noted here re cently, states that "Ninety
percent of everything is crud." Murphy's Law, which
is actually Finagle's Law, says if anything can go wrong,
it will go wrong. Murphy's Original Law says, "If
there are two or more ways to do something, and one of
those ways can result in a catastrophe, then someone will
My law says: You can't win.
Unfortunately, as the days grow shorter, I have discovered
this law applies even to the climate. It applies specifically
to global warming, which I have been trying to view in
a positive light.
Global warming does exist. There is no legitimate dispute
about that, despite any politics surrounding the issue.
The Arctic ice cap is receding at a rate NASA calculates
could melt it by the end of this century. Glaciers and
Antarctic ice fields are melting. Sea levels have risen.
Permafrost is liquefying.
Researchers say the Earth has been warming since the
mid-1800s and that the atmosphere's concentration of heat-trapping
carbon dioxide is the highest in 450,000 years.
The only real argument is about what exactly causes it,
what all the effects will be and whether it's too costly
or unprofitable to do anything about it - even though
the costs of warming are likely to be high and varying
around the world.
Skeptics say the warming could bring longer growing seasons.
They note carbon dioxide is plant food.
Most scientists, however, predict more extremes of heat,
more winter flooding, more droughts, reduced summer supplies
of freshwater and increasingly destructive wildfires.
One thing leads to another. Scientists foresee the possibility
of famine, the spread of infectious diseases and the destruction
of plant and animal species and habitats. Researchers
in Australia warn of a large increase in the death rate
among older people from heat-related causes. Demand for
air conditioning would spike energy needs. In some places,
railway lines and roadways have begun to buckle.
Some experts say the Great Lakes, which hold a fifth
of the world's fresh surface water and are at their lowest
levels in decades, could drop as much as three feet over
the next 30 years because of global warming, with a costly
impact on shipping. For every inch the lakes drop, the
Cleveland-based Lake Carriers Association says 270 tons
have to be removed from a 1,000-foot ship to prevent running
aground. Rain and snow replenish only about 1 percent
of the water the lakes lose each year.
Other effects could be as varied as the loss of fall
foliage, disruption of maple-syrup production and shorter
Naturally, the question becomes: What's in it for me?
There's nothing I can do about global warming. The U.S.
Senate just defeated the Climate Stewardship Act, the
first such bill to reach a vote in seven years, which
was designed to cap the greenhouse gases that growing
evidence fingers as the cause of warming.
Why focus on bad news? Why not look at the good side?
Around here, I figured, global warming could mean beaches
like Southern California. It could mean balmy winters,
palm trees and planting tomatoes before Memorial Day.
Forget about it.
A study released by Colgate University this month says
global warming has had "a surprising impact on the
Great Lakes region of the U.S. - more snow."
Published by a team of researchers in the Journal of
Climate, the study found a "statistically significant
increase in snowfall" in the region since the 1930s,
but no such increase outside it.
"This leads us to believe that recent increases
in lake-effect snowfall are not the result of changes
in regional weather disturbances," said associate
professor of geography Adam Burnett. "Recent increases
in the water temperature of the Great Lakes are consistent
with global warming. This widens the gap between water
temperature and air temperature - the ideal condition
So there it is. Global warming and more snow. I can't
tell you which laws of thermodynamics apply, but my law
says you can't win.