Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Human Footprints

Scientists inform us that we are damaging our planet. They are probably right, but exactly what are they telling us? They say global warming is the result of human activities, but they are unable to back up the assertion. There is no doubt that the ice mass covering Greenland is melting. There is also no doubt that the ice mass at the South  Pole is increasing. The two opposing facts seem to be off setting.

Scientists also say that we are using many of our natural resources faster than they can be replenished. That may be true, but it is hard to document.

Take oil for example. The known reserves under the thin crust of the earth are being reduced. Yet we can still predict that there is an adequate supply for several more centuries. We can also measure recent years of scientific progress focussed on conservation and alternate energy sources. Continued at this rate we may have enough oil to last many more centuries if not forever.

The world wide effort to educate people on the benefits of "going green" by recycling metallic and non-metallic products may or may not be effective in preserving natural resources. The jury is still out. It takes so much energy, for example,  to run machinery to crush and melt aluminum cans for reuse in another form, that the savings may not cover the costs.

We manufacture millions of products made from thermoplastic resins, then eventually we grind up those products, re-melt and mold them into new products for use once more. The grinding takes machinery that uses quite a lot of electrical energy, the re-melting uses natural gas for heating, the molding into new configurations takes more electrical energy, the re-processing requires at least some workman's labor, and in the end the savings may be little to none. Could it be that by re-cycling to save resources - we are fooling ourselves?

Let's return to global warming. Records suggest that the earth goes through cycles of heat and cold. We still don't understand the reasons behind these temperature changes, but many scientific theories have been advanced. They often involve the activity of what we call sun spots. They are used to explain the ever changing gas fed firestorms that occur on the sun. A more recent theory is that human activities on the earth create chemicals and gases that change the nature of the protective layer of the earth's atmosphere. There seems to be no reason to believe this isn't true. At the same time this does not explain the known history of the earth's passage through the ice age. Nor does it explain why several of today's deserts were once under water. It would be wrong, however, to disregard the possibility that increasing human activity could be changing the atmosphere to allow more of the sun rays to penetrate to the earth itself.

The environmentalists among us may be entirely correct to urge our awareness and actions to reduce the supposed human impact upon the atmosphere. It is entirely logical to recognize that the earth is sensitive to our human footprint.

Every on of us should be aware that the existence of all life forms on our planet requires a rather fragile assortment of conditions. 


1 comment:

Rain said...

Your blog updated! :)

And they know it's getting warmer on earth by measurements. We also know that we are deforesting large tracts of land and might end up with water shortages many places as glaciers disappear that used to provide summer melt. The problem with the environmental claims is they cannot prove the why and it might already be too late to change anything. Given that I didn't like the last energy bill from Congress and Obama because it seemed to me profit driven for a few (carbon tax credits) and not sure it'd fix anything. Maybe more we should be preparing different earth regions for change. Watch 'How the Earth was Made' for an idea of what could happen with or without our interference.