Many humans consider global warming to be one of those nebulous, intangible, or esoteric topics of discussion. One reason why is because many humans do not see any significant or sustained impacts from global warming on their daily lives. They tend not to take the topic of global warming too seriously. For many humans, the matter of global warming is a classic case of the "in one ear and out the other" or the no-big-deal syndrome. For many, the seriousness of the matter simply does not seem to register.
In many respect, the global warming problem is similar to the overpopulation problem. That is to say, the Earth is a heavenly body of finite size; it contains limited natural resources (though many of the Earth's natural resources are renewable). The Earth only can host or support so many living creatures before it reaches its capacity to hold anymore. This simple reality is the chief reason why scientists keep advising humans to slow their population growth rate.
Similarly, whether you agree or disagree with the science behind global warming, it should be very easy for you to comprehend that despoiling and polluting the land, air, and water cannot continue unabated forever. For, in time, Earth will reach its capacity to regenerate and heal from all of the pollution that humans keep dumping on it. It is believed that human ingenuity will always find a way to overcome Earth's limitations, but it should be clear by now that human ingenuity is no match for the forces of Nature. For instance, on some future date when a giant asteroid starts hurling directly in Earth's path, then to duck, cover, and hope to survive the fallout from the impact are probably the only things that humans could do.
The global warming problem is akin to a levee built to safeguard against flooding. In normal times, the levee captures the periodic rainfall and holds it until the water recedes or begins to evaporate. However, if the locality happens to be inundated with multiple days of heavy rainfall, then eventually the levee would not be able to contain all of the falling rain. The levee would become filled with water, and the excess water would begin to flow over the banks of the levee. By the same token, climate scientists are projecting that, if humans continue to inundate the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, then the atmosphere, too, will become overwhelmed by these gases. In this case, the atmosphere would be equivalent to the levee, and the greenhouse gases would be equivalent to the falling rain. However, unlike a flooding levee, all kinds of dire consequences could result from global warming. There is every reason expect that, as more and more countries pursue growth and development, given current production technologies, then an even greater volume of greenhouse gases will be released into the atmosphere in the immediate future.
The global warming problem also is akin to the water problem. It often is asked, "How can there be a water shortage or even a water crisis when about three-fourths or 75% of the Earth's surface is covered with water?" Of course, the water problem exists because most of that available water on Earth is not suitable for humans to use. Of the 75% of water covering the Earth's surface, it has been estimated that about 95% of it happens to be salt water with the remaining 5% being fresh water. Absent expensive desalination facilities, salt water is not suitable for humans to use. Fresh water, on the other hand, is suitable for humans to use. One problem with fresh water is this: It is not equally distributed across Earth. It has been estimated that Brazil, Russia, Canada, Indonesia, China, and Colombia hold roughly 50% of the Earth's stock of fresh water reserves. Another problem with fresh water is this: Of the 5% of water on Earth classified as fresh water, it has been estimated that 68% of it is stored in the form of ice, namely, at the North and South poles. Of the 5% of water on Earth classified as fresh water, it has been estimated that another 30% of it is stored underground. Absent tapping into the underground fresh water, this leaves 2% of the 5% of freshwater for humans to use from rivers, lakes, and streams. The point is this: What benefit is it for humans to have an overabundance of water at their disposal if they cannot use it? By the same token, from the standpoint of humans pumping more and more pollutants into the atmosphere, what benefit is it for humans to have an overabundance of air at their disposal if that air, on some future date, should become unsuitable for them to breathe? The point is this: The appearance of an overabundance of fresh, clean air on Earth and the appearance of an overabundance of water on Earth can be deceiving once you begin to probe deeper into these issues. These precious natural resources, namely, water, air, and land, should not be taken for granted or abused. These precious natural resources should be nurtured.
Concerning the twenty-first Conference of the Parties (COP 21) summit that was held in Paris, France beginning on 30-November-2015, its primary purpose was to devise ways to combat global warming. Leaders from close to 200 nations attended. Numerous delegates and other assorted participants also were in attendance. It was a cause celebre type of gathering. They agreed to devise and implement ways to limit and reduce the output of greenhouse gases, namely, carbon dioxide.
Effectively, the purpose of the summit was to save the Earth's atmosphere for future generations of life on Earth to enjoy and, indeed, for future generations of life on Earth to thrive. All of the COP 21 attendees deserve highest commendations and praises. It is a very good start towards tackling a serious threat to a decent quality of life for all on Earth. The summit's outcome is worthy of a little joyful noise. For, as you very well know, there is only one planet Earth, and there is only one atmosphere to sustain life on Earth. Thankfully, based on the success of COP 21, it appears as if more and more humans are beginning to realize that life on Earth is precious. It appears as if more and more humans are beginning to realize that life on Earth is something worth preserving, especially human life. Most importantly, it appears as if more and more humans are beginning to realize that, if life on Earth is to be preserved, then it is humans who must rise to the challenge and do the preserving.
Through the use of graphics to depict the past, present, and future, the Global Carbon Project does an excellent job of crystallizing or bringing the greenhouse gas emissions issue into clearer focus. Click the following link to view globalcarbonatlas.org's graphical presentation of the "Carbon Story":
Most humans consider NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) to be a very credible source of information. Applicable scientists at NASA have concluded that global warming is real. Click the following two links to see NASA's perspective on global warming:
Climate scientists have noted that the average temperature of Earth has been rising. These same climate scientists have concluded that most of the average rise in global temperature is attributed to human emissions of greenhouse gases. The prediction is that, if humans continue to release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at the current pace and if the average global temperature continues to rise, then at some future date, the consequences could be catastrophic. The expectation is that, if humans begin to reduce the levels of greenhouse gases that are being released into the atmosphere, then the global warming trend can be reversed or would be rendered tolerable. The 12-December-2015 COP 21 agreement in Paris, France, among other things, requires member-countries to devise means for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The long-term goal of the agreement is to aim for "holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change."
The missing link to this 2°C goal is a lack of specificity. Most observers take the pre-industrial period to be circa 1750. If the COP 21 agreement is implying that "pre-industrial" should be interpreted to mean the year 1750 A.D., then it would have been helpful if the COP 21 agreement had explicitly stated so. Furthermore, the COP 21 agreement should have specified precisely what the average global temperature was in 1750. Otherwise, without some reference base for comparison, countries would not know whether they were attaining or missing the agreement's 2°C goal.
An alternate way to measure global progress in tackling the global warming problem could be to use, say, 2014 as the base year. Going forward, it could be measured to what extent, if any, there are year-over-year declines in the volume of greenhouse gases being emitted into the atmosphere, relative to, say, 2014's base volume of greenhouse gases emitted. Again, using 2014 as the base year, going forward, another way to measure global progress could be to measure to what extent, if any, year-over-year global average temperatures have been declining below, say, 2014's base temperature.
The scientific community is not unanimous in its support of the notion that the Earth has moved into a global warming phase. Opponents and skeptics of the global warming thesis contend that observed weather patterns are nothing more than naturally recurring, multi-year cyclical shifts with perhaps an aberration here and there. Opponents and skeptics of global warming contend that, given Earth's age in billions of years, climate scientists simply do not have enough empirical evidence to support their global warming thesis. The message of opponents and skeptics of global warming is this: Don't believe all of the global warming hoopla, fanfare, and hype. To be sure, several important questions have been raised surrounding the issue of global warming. These questions include the following:
Image Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center | The Earth Observatory
Image Credit: United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Image Credit: United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Image Credit: United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Image Credit: Publications | Global Carbon Atlas
The final question becomes this: What can be done to mitigate or avoid undesirable climatic outcomes while maintaining a decent living standard? What are some next steps to contain and rollback the problem of a warming planet? Summits such as COP 21 are designed as a conduit for humans to come together, network, brainstorm, share best practices, and devise solutions to the problem of global warming.
Households, businesses, universities, and governments have roles to play in tackling the global warming problem. Each has to contribute ideas and behaviors towards reducing the human carbon footprint. Government's role mainly is to set environmental standards; to enact rules, regulations, and laws to codify those environmental standards; and to impose fines and penalties on those who do not comply with stipulated environmental standards.
In addition to conserving atmospheric purity, another big challenge facing humankind would have to be conserving water purity. There are three salient things that humans require to survive, and they are:
Of course, there are other basic necessities that humans require to survive. These other necessities include sleep, shelter, clothing, and reproduction.
I still maintain, however, that perhaps one of the most urgent threats to human survival is not global warming but is the threat of global nuclear warfare—and global chemical, biological, and radiological warfare. It doesn't take much for a hot-headed, bellicose, asinine leader to rise to power and trigger a nuclear war, and it could happen at a moment's notice.
Can you imagine it, that is, one hot-headed, irresponsible, foolish leader condemning the whole of life on Earth to extinction simply because he or she could not control his or her temper? What dispute between nations could be so horrible that it is worth killing every living thing on Earth? The answer is a resounding, "None!" There are better alternatives to conflict resolution between nations, and they include diplomacy, compromise, and consensus.
There are no words to describe the stupidity of a prospect such as the prospect of nuclear annihilation. Yet, such an end-of-time scenario for life on Earth is precisely the conundrum or bind that contemporary humans find themselves having to cope with each day. It is all so ridiculous and silly. So long as nuclear, chemical, biological, and radiological weapons are in existence and are hanging over their heads, all life forms on Earth are at risk of extinction. Humans simply need to get rid of these weapons of mass destruction, thereby, removing the risk of human extinction due to a use of nuclear, chemical, biological, and radiological warfare. It is simply crazy how humans have allowed themselves to get entangled in this nuclear predicament, but the unabated human quest for superior weaponry has led to this nuclear cauldron. One of the biggest problems in the world today is that far too many humans sit around thinking about and preparing for fighting, hating, and killing one another. I am amazed—and simultaneously disappointed—at the amount of energy and brain power that humans devote to the business of killing one another. Is this the type of global apocalypse that humans want for Earth? Why must humans be in a perpetual state of anger, agitation, and animosity?
Wouldn't it have been wonderful if all of the world's leaders in attendance at COP 21 had concluded the summit by agreeing to re-convene in a year to tackle the challenge of permanently ridding the Earth of all of its nuclear, chemical, biological, and radiological weapons? Such an agreement by the world's leaders to re-convene in a year for the express purpose of addressing the nuclear weapons challenge truly would have been a revolutionary leap forward for human survival and to save the planet for future generations of life to enjoy. After all, as of 2015, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists had moved the hand of the Doomsday Clock forward from five minutes to three minutes before midnight. Humans urgently need to rollback the hand on the Doomsday Clock. Humans permanently should stop the hand on the Doomsday Clock from advancing forward from its current 11:57 p.m. setting as of 2015. It would be beyond wonderful—and perhaps divine—if the world's leaders actually came together and agreed to rid the Earth of its nuclear, chemical, biological, and radiological weapons without delay.
Even a hint of progress towards tackling the great challenges facing contemporary, 21st century humans is worthy of praise and celebrating. Getting something accomplished is better than getting nothing at all accomplished. So, in honor of the 12-December-2015 COP 21 agreement in Paris, France, I have decided to make a little joyful noise right here and now, and here it goes: