Renewable Thinking

Global Warming is like Baseball
by Alex Osteen -- November 7th, 2012

Last week, I heard somebody say, “Hurricane Sandy totally proves that global warming is real!!”

I knew it! Pack your bags and Bibles because it’s the end of civilization as we know it:

  • Goodbye New York City.
  • Hello perpetual summer weather.
  • Any second now, Africa will catch on fire.
  • The islands of the world will sink into the ocean.
  • Winged creatures will rise out of volcanoes.
  • Worst of all, we will never have snow on Christmas ever again.

It makes me think of that R.E.M. song. You know the one, right?

Okay, yes, I am being quite facetious. There are lots of crazy people out there who are talking like this. Of course, the other side is no better and lots of people are saying that global warming is a total lie invented by the Democrats and hippie environmentalists hoping to push various pinko agendas, putting decent people out of work. Who is right? We are not at the end of the world, but changes are happening.

Jordan Eccles, my professor of Energy and the Environment, told it to our class this way: Imagine a baseball player on steroids. In his career, he will hit more home runs than a baseball player who isn’t on steroids. Looking at just one of those home runs, however, makes it hard to draw conclusions about whether the player is on steroids or not. It’s the same with hurricanes. We can’t say that Sandy was caused by global warming, rather we need to look at the average of big hurricanes per year over time. Eccles was quoting Climate Progress, by the way.

Big storms have happened in the past, yes. But we are dealing with new circumstances now and Sandy is part of a bigger picture: There is undeniable evidence that both the average global temperature and total carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are rising in tandem. In fact, they are going up very fast. Look at the ‘hockey stick’ graph. The cars, cows and industry (Thomas Friedman’s new book title?) that allow seven billion people to live on Earth are pumping out CO2 and other greenhouse gases faster than natural cycles can absorb them.

Remember, these are things that are measurable and that have been measured over time. That implies science and facts and to question them is like saying the moon is made of cheese. The scientific process has allowed us to swap all those silly thoughts for our modern civilization. We can’t argue with facts.

So for me, the real question is how much warming will humans cause before we stop using fossil fuels. And can we handle it or not?  I bet that over the next 50 years and beyond, we will see lots more Sandies on steroids.

1 Comment

  1. Christine Chen
    Nov 25, 2012

    Great point! I just want to add one thing. While the US replace coal with natural gas to generate electricity domestically and reduced carbon emission. The coal is exported to other countries and still add up the carbon emission. So new technology is not solving problems in a way we want it to, but could be manipulated by other forces. So I mean, days could be long till we can stop using fossil fuel.

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