Better stewards of Earth

By JEFF NORTH,

I must preface this article by emphatically stating I have no idea what I am writing about today. With this said, I have in fact pondered, read, and made mental notes regarding observations and statements made by countless individuals whom I regard much more informed than I am. This topic is discussed daily and at times becomes so “heated” that tempers fly out of control. It is the basis of political agendas, careers, and enormous revenues. It is regarded by many as the most important concern on earth, even much more than national security or the economy. Have you figured out what topic I am referring to? I’m sure you have but to make sure let’s discuss “Climate Change.”

I know of no better place to start than with a couple of definitions of climate change. I think two will suffice and get us to the point of discussion. Climate change is a change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide by the use of fossil fuels. Definition number two is any significant long-term change in the expected weather patterns of average weather of a region over a significant period of time. I think the word “time” in the latter is deserving of qualifying. This “time” can refer to a few decades to millions of years. I think the second definition is more general, offering a true definition, and the first, to me at least, is pointing more to a “causal effect” with a hidden agenda. Remember what I said though, I have no idea.

Our climate system is made up of five interacting parts. These include the atmosphere (air), hydrosphere (water), cryosphere (ice), biosphere (living organisms), and lithosphere (earth’s crust). Energy, largely from the sun, is the catalyst for warming climates or cooler climates. Now, here’s where it gets deep. If more energy flows into our earth and climate system than out, we experience a warming trend. If more energy flows out of our system than in, we experience cooling. Whatever occurs in nature is beyond our control and weather patterns have been cyclical since the millennia and beyond. The crux is what do we do, mankind that is, to alter what is a given and beyond our control? Alas, the plot thickens!

Anthropogenic climate change is caused by human activity. This climate change is also known as global warming. So by definition, “we” cause global warming. The natural cooling and warming that results from Earth’s natural processes is what it is and beyond our control. If however we are adding to either the cooling or warming by our interference of living and our actions on earth, then we should fully evaluate what we are doing and how it may affect the world as a whole.

If we are the forcing mechanism of change, then what are some of the things we are possibly doing? Of course, increased fossil fuel use leads to increased emissions and heat. Other human influences may include, and note I said “may include,” land use which includes deforestation and animal production, plant emissions which may degrade our fragile ozone layer, and the use of aerosols and increased carbon dioxide release by a multitude of actions. In fact, I have even heard of internet and communications induced climate change. Lord knows there is enough computer and cell phone use to validate this effect if indeed it could be shown as a factor. I’m sure you all could agree that at least these are possibilities. These are just a few that come to mind and I am by no means picking on any certain sector.

So how do we measure the effects of global warming? Of course there is increased humidity and temperature which may lead to more rainfall and increase in the number of major storms like hurricanes. Rainfall amounts can become increasingly heavy with amounts measured in feet rather than inches resulting in widespread flooding. Increased volcanic activity could occur with climate change. Sea level rises due to glacier melt and increased rainfall could possibly be a measure to quantify global warming. I’m sure you could come up with a multitude of other ways to measure as well.

So what do you think? Are we definitely in a cycle of a warming climate? Two years ago there were numerous water line breaks due to freezing temperatures. Is it fair to measure what we experience in our lifetime which in reality is just a millisecond when compared to billions of years that our earth has been in existence? Is our dire need for food, water, energy, communication, and business, the driving force to exist? I think in part it is greed. We have to have more cars, bigger homes, more homes, more industry, and more energy, just to make another day. Maybe we should think about this.

How many pairs of shoes do we need? How much energy does it take to produce one pair? How many light bulbs are in your home? Multiply this by the number of homes in the world. Does the heat from these bulbs lead to warming? How much energy is released by the multitude of flights from the thousands of aircraft that lift off each day? Are all of these flights necessary? Could this business have been conducted by a phone call? Does the released energy from these flights even have an impact? I surely don’t know. If we are to blame for climate change, then remember, WE are all to blame.

Everyone plays a role in the present and future of Mother Earth and we should all remember this, including myself. I invite you to think about this and I encourage you to think of ways we can become better stewards of what sustains us all, our precious Earth. I can’t think of a better way to close than by saying, “until next time enjoy our woods and waters and remember, let’s leave it better than we found it!

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1. He drove a blue ‘77 Chevy Nova in high school. 2. He played on Jackson Prep’s 1985 and 1986 state championship basketball teams.