OT? Global Warming

Burger, Steve Steve.Burger@choa.org
Tue, 17 Jan 2006 08:14:37 PST
I am not a climatologist (My degree is in Plant Pathology, and I work with Information Systems ...long story:>) but I've taken a great interest in weather and climate due to my gardening habit, especially since I grow palms outdoors unprotected in a historically 7b climate.

Although it is well recognized that weather is cyclical and we can't predict what our climate would look like right now without human influence, a consensus is building among climatologists that we are affecting climate and possibly quite rapidly.  

I've read a lot of material from climatologists that rode the fence on global warming just five or ten years ago, who are now fully in the camp of global climate change.  

Funny, the 1C climate change for Africa is an interesting point.  Climate change like this is more magnified in the polar regions than near the equator.  1C in Africa could be 3C near the poles.

From Siberian permafrost melts to Greenland's Ice sheets and European and North American glaciers disappearing, record Atlantic Hurricane seasons and many other notable phenomena, we are likely seeing (although not certainly) effects from our changes right now.  Loss of Polar Ice is very scary, due to its reflectivity, (reflecting almost all solar radiation into space during the polar winter) loss of which will begin heating of that region earlier in the spring (and later into fall) as the sun returns.

With China and India and their huge populations emerging economically, CO2 emissions from agriculture and industry could spike wildly.  We certainly can't afford to wait for irrefutable evidence of global warming's validity, or what share in global warming CO2 emissions play.

Nature can adjust to climate change and species ebb and flow across the globe as climate changes and continents drift to new latitudes.  However, rapid change may not be so easy for humans and human agricultural technologies to adjust to.  People need to live near their food production unless transportation is inexpensive and that the region in question has the ability to offset those transportation costs with some other production.  

What will happen if the Sahara doubles in size (it's growth is tied to global warming and overgrazing.  That region was grasslands during the last ice age)?  Africa with it's political, health (HIV and others) and economic woes could become a complete mess if even conservative global warming estimates come to fruition.

The short end of it is that we don't know for certain about climate cycles vs. global warming due to human activity, but the folks who do this thing for a living are concerned.  Our ability to change (emit less CO2) is slow and we might not "know" that we're having a major impact on climate before it is too late.  But taking this seriously now and reacting to it, would only have short term negative impacts, and even if done in error (say we're not impacting climate) would help make industrialized nations less dependant on unstable nations for fuel.  Fossil fuels will run out one day, so what's the harm in doing with less of them now, rather than later?


-----Original Message-----
From: pbs-bounces@lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:pbs-bounces@lists.ibiblio.org]On Behalf Of Kenneth Hixson
Sent: Monday, January 09, 2006 03:36 PM
To: Pacific Bulb Society
Subject: [pbs] OT? Global Warming

HI, All
	This is a fascinating thread, and we can argue about it for a
long time.  Some of us believe the worst, some of us believe otherwise.
The reason for that is very simple.  We know some of the facts, but
by no means all of them.  We know there is water in the glass, and it
is either half full, or half empty, but is that the normal state of affairs?
Is there perhaps a crack in the glass that we can't see, letting water out?
We are beginning to understand some of  the checks and balances
built into world weather, but not all of them or how they function.
For instance, it is often claimed that the world is getting warmer.
These claims are based on recent weather, compared with fairly
recent historical past weather--after all, we don't have very
good weather records beyond a couple hundred years.  A couple
hundred years ago we were coming out of a mini-ice age, so anything
now looks excessively warm.  The fact is, we are speculating that we
know what past weather was, and will be in the future.  Most of the
speculations I've seen do not mention that as the carbon dioxide
increases and the earth warms, plants also grow faster--with every
ten degrees F, plant growth approximately doubles, thus absorbing more
carbon dioxide.  At some point plant growth will absorb all the new
carbon dioxide.  As ice melts, it absorbs immense amounts of heat
(specific heat), and the fresh water expands the oceans, which
reflects more light back into space.
	About thirty years ago, with the  advent of weather satellites
in space, it was discovered that there was a hole in the ozone layer,
and it was getting bigger.  The chicken littles rushed around crying
"The sky is falling, the sky is falling", or rather, "The ozone layer is
shrinking".  There was a lot of speculation about the bad effects of this,
but to this day I've never seen any definitive statement whether or not
it is an entirely normal thing which expands and contracts, or is purely
a result of man's activities. I suspect there is a check, and the ozone
layer hole will start to close by some effect we do not yet know or
	We think we know the earth's magnetic poles are shifting,
but why, and what effect will it have on the weather?  Will the Northern
lights now occur over California?   And so on.

	In addition to Mark's comments about disease in Napoleon's
armies, feeding his armies was a tremendous problem, in a time
when preserving and transporting food was a huge problem.  Napoleon
offered a huge reward for anyone who could help preserve food,
and Louis Pastuer won the award for the process now called pasteurization,
of heat treating food.  Canning food as a means of preservation
is the result, prior to which food was preserved by drying, pickling or
salting. It probably wouldn't have helped Napoleon's armies even if there
was  enough food available (with all able bodied men in the army instead
of raising food) simply because the transport was inadequate to
ship enough food the tremendous distance involved.

	Dave made a comment about the "scorned potato".  What needs
to be kept in mind is that the potato was not introduced into Europe
until the americas were discovered, and food plants were not the first
thing looted from the americas.  The potatos brought back to Europe
were not adapted to European conditions, and several generations of
selection needed to done before they adapted to become a meaningful
food crop.  Building up adequate "seed stocks" of the new crop, and
distributing it to appropriate areas also took time.  Then, subsistance
farmers are notoriously slow to adopt new crops, so getting potatos
to become a dependable food source took time.  Just when it became
a staple of the diet, the disease late blight hit and caused widespread
famine in a population that had adapted to the new food source.  The
potato was scorned because of the famine, when it became obvious
that the new food source was not as dependable as had been hoped.

	Dave also commented that the romans brought grapes to Europe
(and specifically England) and wine was the drink of choice.  Perhaps
for the nobility, but the peasants in England probably never saw it.  The
grapes were probably those that were adapted to Italy, and lacked cold
tolerance.   Getting grapes with cold hardiness again required time, and
an  understanding of the need.  The area of central Europe would have
been the logical source of cold hardy grapes, but the romans were in a
constant state of  warfare with the peoples of central europe, if the people
there even grew grapes.

	What does this mean to me as a grower of bulbs?  Well,
the USDA now lists my area as Zone 8, as winters for the past thirty
years haven't gotten much below +15F.  However, in my lifetime
it has been -12F (December 1972), twice minus 5F, and several times
to just above 0F.  When I'm in zone denial, I try to grow Hedychium
gardnerianum, Dahlias and Cannas.  The Hedychium this year has
tolerated a couple days of +25F, though it looks badly frostburned
right now.  I realize I'm gambling, and if I lose plants, I'll know that
it isn't the end of the world.  My lifetime is the blink of an eye on a
geological time scale, and this area probably isn't Zone 8, even though
I've been enjoying the fact that it has been warmer than usual.  Will
it be -5F within the next ten years?  I won't bet against it.


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