Saturday, May 30, 2009
EXPLAINING GLOBAL WARMING FACTS
I thought that now would be a good time to pass on how to explain global warming when confronted by someone who has only heard conservative talk radio / television tout that the experts are still undecided on this issue. This is understandable because I have seen many articles simplifying the issue by referring to the carbon dioxide as a problem when burning coal, oil, or natural gas.
First let’s start with the basics. The ozone layer acts like a giant sunshade, protecting living things from much of the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation. When you stay out too long without a shirt in the summer, you get a sun burn. A very bad sunburn is sometimes call “sun poison” but it is really radiation poisoning.
The fact is that you get carbon monoxide (one carbon atom and one oxygen atom) when you burn any of the hydro-carbon fuels. Example, the person who wants to commit suicide pulls the car into the garage, closes the door while leaving the car running. It is the carbon monoxide that will poison you to death.
Some of these carbon monoxides get into the upper atmosphere where the ozone layer is. Ozone (three oxygen atoms) has a very week electromagnetic attraction. It is the sun’s light ray’s energy radiation that separates the three oxygen atoms apart allowing the atoms drift around until they are drawn back together again as ozone or to link up to other molecules making up new substances. (Electricity, light, radio waves, and radiation are the same energy. It is the frequency of the energy that decides). When one of these oxygen atoms is electromagnetically linked to the carbon-monoxide molecule, it then becomes carbon-dioxide (one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms). This molecule has a very strong electromagnetic attraction that now is much harder for the sun’s rays to break apart. It is the accumulation of carbon-dioxide in the upper atmosphere that is getting into the dangerous levels which means less ozone to carbon dioxide ratio that has protected the earth like it has for millions of years. Bottom line is that this is just simple Chemistry 101.
Carbon dioxide and other gases warm the surface of the planet naturally by trapping solar heat in the atmosphere. This is a good thing because it keeps our planet habitable. However, by burning fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil and clearing forests we have dramatically increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s upper atmospheres causing the temperatures to rise.
Now I have been asked if trees and plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen and why is the carbon dioxide a problem. My first reply is that this does happen in the Troposphere (closest to earth). The problem is that we are not growing trees that are seven miles tall to remove it from the Ozone layer this way.
The vast majority of scientists agree that global warming is real, it is already starting to happen and that it is the result of our activities and not a natural occurrence. The evidence is overwhelming and undeniable. We are already seeing changes. Glaciers are melting, plants and animals are being forced from their habitat, and the number of severe storms and droughts are increasing.