Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It's Complex and Complicated

So Ted Turner says climate change is “probably the most serious — and, in all fairness, the most complex — problem that humanity has ever faced.”  And: “It is really easy to understand how some people don’t get it, because it’s so complex and complicated.”

Well, Ted Turner may have a bunch of money, but I've never considered him to be the sharpest tool in the shed.  He may know media, but I'm not sure what his science background is.  I know he loves the Civil War, and I appreciate that interest in history, but that's a brief bit of time in the history of the world.  And even with that, I fail to understand how he could have so much money to spend but end up making such mediocre movies out of the Shaara books.  (For goodness sakes hire a makeup artist who can make a realistic beard the next time, dude!)

For Mr. Turner and others who think we don't get it, a few pictures.  First, a graph of temperature variations:

This shows temperature deviation over the last 450,000 years with the 0 point being a mean of temps from 1961 to 1990.  Note where we are at the 0 point - less variation and lower temps than at other periods.  And this chart only covers only a small fraction of geologic time - I chose it because of the possible influence on hominids, i.e, grandpa.

We are currently in an interglacial period.  Once upon a time, roughly 20,000 years ago, we kindof looked like this:

We've looked like that repeatedly.  We'll look like that again.  I don't like cold very much any more and I guarantee that a mile thick ice sheet would have made my current place of residence COLD!  And it probably would have adversely affected land values in PA, NY, MA, etc:

And when there's that much ice, a lot of water is locked up in it, so current guesstimate is that sea levels were about 120 meters lower.  Once terrestrial ice sheets start melting, sea level rises.  And, of course, a whole lot of other things are happening, both as the ice accumulates and as it recedes.  Sea currents change, the earth's crust depresses or rises due to the weight, salinity changes.  These changes are constant, and normal, and have always happened and always will happen until it's time for the planet to cease its complex existence in the universe.

So now it's warmer, and I'm good with that.  It means greater availability of things I love:

And yes, climate change can cause extinctions.  Another graph:

This one shows percentages of living species going extinct in the millions of years prior to now.  And, really, this one is showing low percentages - I've seen theories that there have been waves of extinctions of up to 90% of extant species.  So extinction is a normal part of the earth's cycles.  And really, for all the nuisance deer are, there were once a whole bunch of much more unpleasant critters around.

I'm really glad this guy is not around any more.  I'm really, really good with its extinction.  And humans didn't have a doggone thing to do with it.  But humans have been and currently are working very hard to make various species extinct, and I don't hear much out of the "Save the Whales" folks about it.  These creatures are a part of the natural world, just the same as whales, wolves, and other, more warm and fuzzy creatures are.  And I fully support their extinction.

You don't see these pics much, because, well, they're not cute and cuddly.  But the living, natural creature named Variola shown above, aka smallpox, has been a cause of enormous suffering and death, and the fact that it seems to be extinct in nature is rightly celebrated.

So, you see, a lot of us DO get it.  It's just that it's a way more complicated thing than Mr. Turner seems to understand.

And, by the way, if population is such a problem, why are we working so hard to eradicate cancer?  AIDS?  Polio? Why are we spending so much time and funds on vaccines for flu, pneumonia, diphtheria, measles, and other human ailments?  And why, Mr. Turner, didn't you think of the whole population thing before you had five kids?  Was the relationship between sex and pregnancy too complex, too complicated for you to understand?

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