It took virtually no time at all for some to attribute the tragic earthquake and tsunami that devastated lives and property in Japan to global warming. Only hours later the president of the European and Social Committee, Steffan Nilsson, issued a statement that “Some islands affected by climate change have been hit. Has not the time come to demonstrate on solidarity — not least solidarity in combating and adapting to climate change and global warming? Mother Nature has again given us a sign that is what we need to do.”
This came as a big surprise to those of us who assumed such events were produced by natural collisions of constantly shifting Earth tectonic plates. It seems this mistaken notion warrants some rethinking. Apparently we’re to blame — all that fossil burning is the real cause.
A need for serious reconsideration also applies to extreme weather; hurricanes, droughts, floods, blizzard cold weather conditions and such. Certainly those events never occurred before we came along with our smoke stacks and SUVs, did they? Well, yeah, okay, maybe they did. But that shouldn’t make us feel less responsible, should it? After all, if we weren’t here no one would have even noticed. And without lots of guilt and fear there probably wouldn’t be any legitimately true and caring environmentalists.
A growing market for “eco-therapists” who specialize in treating “eco-anxiety” demonstrates that environmentalism is really catching on. A Feb. 16, 2008 New York Times article (and they should know), reported that more than 120 of these specialists are now listed in the field of “ecopsychology” to help people who are excessively worried that their own carbon emissions are causing global warming. The International Community for Ecopsychology’s definition refers to that term as “a synergetic relationship between planetary and personal well-being,” and states that “the needs of one are relevant to the other.”
Some schools, including Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore., have created courses on counseling such patients. Sarah Edwards explained to Fox News that eco-anxiety (manifested in feelings of fear, grief, anger, confusion and depression) caused her shoulder pain, fibromyalgia and fatigue. Her reasoning may go pandemic. A British independent news source reported that eco-anxiety has been blamed for symptoms ranging from overeating and bulimia to depression and even alcoholism.
Yet the GOP House majority just doesn’t seem to get it. Their proposed “Energy Tax Prevention Act” (H.R. 910) is a first step aimed at pre-empting the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions using the Clean Air Act unless and explicitly authorized to do so by Congress. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) accused the Republicans of trying to repeal the first law of thermodynamics and cause children all over the world to get asthma. Isn’t it time for Republicans to realize that cold, dry air causes more asthma symptoms than mild temperature or humid air? Al Gore and other eminent scientists now tell us that global warming causes cold weather. No doubt some of this hot air originates in Congress, explaining all those harsh northeastern U.S. blizzard conditions last winter.
All of which maybe has to make you wonder. Does CO2 also cause insanity? A particularly tragic case involved an Argentine family. In March 2010, Francisco Lotero and Mariam Coletti shot two of their children before killing themselves after making a suicide pact over fears about effects of global warming. Although their 2-year-old son Francisco died instantly, their unnamed 7-month-old daughter remarkably survived.
We all know by now that polar bears are being threatened by global warming — which leads to some possible confusion since surveys show escalating numbers in recent times. Perhaps this seeming contradiction might be explained by overheated bear libido, with grave implications for those who worry a lot about world population growth as a looming environmental threat. (Just a thought.)
Another paradox to ponder has to do with another human-caused global warming-related eco-scare we’re going to be hearing more and more about in the media … a “biodiversity crisis.” In June, 2010, delegates from 200 nations gathered in Busan, a South Korean port city under the banner of the Intergovernmental Science Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), to counter mass extinction threats of “nearly 26,000 species across the globe” compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Headlines of an Oct. 27, 2010 Washington Post article written by Juliet Eilperin “Global Extinction Crisis Looms, New Study Says,” notes that such environmental groups are pushing for a goal of protecting 25% of all land on Earth and 15% of the sea by 2020.
Not all of this threat is attributed to global warming or warming-induced cooling (known more generally as “climate change”). In fact, according to the New York State Biodiversity Research Institute, that man-caused influence comes in fifth behind habitat degradation and loss, non-native invasive species, pollution, and overuse of resources. Still, here’s where it again gets a bit confusing.
If you saw it and were paying attention, you may remember that Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth movie urgently warned that global warming will cause nasty mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue, yellow fever and West Nile virus, to migrate from the tropics to higher, cooler latitudes where they didn’t previously exist. And now the eco-extinction argument claims that a changing global climate threatens species and ecosystems by shifting their distributions to locations where they aren’t able to adapt. So if the greatest diversity of species exists in the tropics, and some of them are distributed more broadly through climate change … wouldn’t that maybe serve to help expand diversity? Go figure!
Then there are also those perplexing influences of global cooling and atmospheric CO2. Take tomatoes for example. Serious salad and sandwich eaters may have noticed that human global warming-induced cold weather across North America this past winter has severely impacted their availability and cost, even raising concerns about their endangerment. But there’s some good news too.
The Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, which maintains a database on field and laboratory experiments measuring plant growth responses to CO2-enriched environments has reported 45 studies that have examined effects on the garden tomato (lycopersicon eculentum). On average they gain 32.6%, 40.9% and 46.8% additional dry weight mass, respectively, when grown in air containing an extra 300, 600, and 900 parts per million of CO2.
Finally, there’s that one terrifying and inescapable impact of global warming most all of us worry most about. I’m quite obviously referring here to traffic congestion.
NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies director and chief Al Gore science advisor James Hansen is well known for really frightening climate prognostications. Included are predictions that melting ice caps will raise sea levels as much as 80 feet, forcing millions to seek refuge from flooding; that increasingly violent weather patterns will cause major destruction; and that droughts in some areas will cause disastrous brush fires to be more prevalent. Of course no one can be expected to make correct prophecies all the time.
During a 2001 interview when he was asked how global warming would affect the scene outside an upper-level New York City GISS building 20 years hence Dr. Hansen replied, “Well, there will be more traffic.” He went on to say, “The West Side Highway [which runs along the Hudson River] will be underwater. And there will be tape across the street because of high winds. And the same birds won’t be there. The trees in the median strip will change”. Then he added, “There will be more police cars.” When asked why, he explained, “Well, you know what happens when the heat goes up.”
You gotta give him some credit. At least he was right about that traffic!
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