My Two Cents on Climate Change

I'm skeptical about claims that the whole planet is warming up; temperature changes have been very complex!  But we do know that cities tend to be hotter than surrounding areas for many reasons and this undoubtedly contributes to a higher average temperature; our runaway urban population increase is making this steadily worse.  And the rising of the ocean levels is having a dramatic impact on climate.  It's easily proven and there is one straightforward and plausible factor, i.e., the water created via clean combustion of the hydrocarbons that fossil fuels are made of.  Yes, that's the other product of that reaction; it's not just CO2!  (But why do we not hear more about acid rain, which higher levels of CO2 are known to have aggravated?)

What effect would rising ocean levels have?  Well, the ocean would be more massive, therefore experiencing more inertia when exposed to a force.  Two scenarios come to mind: one is that ocean turnover would be smaller.  One result is a reduction of upwelling, generated by wind movement parallel to a coast, in which cold, dense, nutrient-rich water deep down comes to the surface, displacing warm, relatively nutrient-depleted water at the surface.  Then there are ocean currents created by the prevailing westerly or easterly winds more or less perpendicular to the land; the prevailing easterlies occur in the roughly half of the globe closest to the equator.  Both of these movements would be hampered by a more massive ocean. 

The result? Fewer fronts coming from the ocean onto land and moving across it, for one thing, at least in the short run (maybe a few years.) This would cause droughts on the land, especially the land nearest the coast that receives fronts brought in by the prevailing winds.  In addition, the reduction in upwelling and the resulting removal of its moderating influence on the coastal temperature would make such coastal areas warmer.  This appears to be the case in California, which receives the prevailing westerly winds from the ocean; however, this entire land mass would be affected because of the reduced speed of these winds, experiencing less wind from the west.

The reduction in the force of west winds allows air masses from the north in the winter and from the south in the summer to encounter less resistance, especially in the interior of the continent.  This results in more severe cold fronts in the winter, especially in the interior of the continent, reaching farther south and bringing more snow to many regions.  Because of the resistance that the Rocky Mountains present and the minimal resistance from the Great Lakes area, this cold air mass from the Arctic eventually reaches all areas with weakened prevailing winds.  On the other hand, warm air masses from the south sweep northward in the summer, keeping the temperatures high; however, the Gulf of Mexico can bring in rain with south winds.

What this would mean for the southeastern U.S. is hotter summers and colder, wetter winters.  It would also mean a greater contrast in ocean temperatures, with hot spots and cold spots, because of increasingly stagnant waters.  Sounds kind of like El Niño, doesn't it?

But there is another factor: conservation of energy. The built-up potential energy in more stationary air masses could break through into kinetic energy from time to time, resulting in more violent storms, perhaps some of them hurricanes and tornados.

The causes of the rapidly melting Arctic glaciers appear to be complex.  Rising temperatures are considered to be a key factor, but it's not that simple.  According to Balog (2005) in his documentary "Extreme Ice," melting of the glaciers is hastened by water from the ocean forcing its way into and under large chunks of these glaciers, in part by the force of gravity as the water pours down from the top of glacier to places far below. The glaciers, broken apart by this process, slide on these rivers into the ocean, which warms them further. And all this turbulence has to generate (local) heat in itself via friction, I would think, aggravating the glacier melting. In other words, maybe dramatic glacier melting can be accounted for just by ... more water.

I hope, however, that we do not focus on CO2 to the exclusion of other air and water pollutants, which are many and varied, some of which impose a more severe and urgent threat to public health.  And it is important to recognize that processes that involve clean combustion inevitably produce some dirty, i.e., incomplete, combustion because of imperfect ratios of reactants; when oxygen is used up before carbon is when high heat is applied, some reaction products will be carbon monoxide and all-carbon molecules of varying sizes, better known as "soot," which are are dangerous to health in much smaller amounts than CO2 is.  

REFERENCES

Balog, J. (2009) "Extreme Ice" http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/earth/extreme-ice.html

AUS-e-TUTE n.d.,
    Chemistry Tutorial : Combustion of Hydrocarbons,
    viewed 5 January 2014,
    http://www.ausetute.com.au/combusta.html 

 

Copyright © 2015-2018 Dorothy E. Pugh. All rights reserved.

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