Global Warming (Yes, it's still happening)
Submitted by wireheads on October 14, 2009 - 11:53
You know, the term "global warming" should not be so confusing to anyone who finished Jr. High School, or Middle School in the U.S.A. or perhaps you might know it as your 8th year of education, when you were around 13 or 14 years of age.
Somewhere around that time, you learned about "closed systems" and how they worked in a vacuum (an environment where there is no atmosphere). You heard phrases like "things flow to the point of least resistance" and "chaotic motion results from heating". Your teacher may have even showed you one of those glass birds that dip their beaks in water and keep doing it over and over and over -- the beak gets wet, the glass in that location gets cooler, the liquid inside flows away from it, then slowly climbs back, again and again.
And yet, confusion is still there.
A cool day comes along and people sarcastically say, "Yeah, global warming. Sure." Just proving how unknowledgeable they have allowed themselves to become.
I heard a story from a close freind of mine recently, where he was riding home in a car near Houston, Texas from a dinner with his brother and his wife. It began to snow. Not a common occurance in Houston, and the wife sarcastically commented, "Yeah, global warming. Sure."
The snow had just proven that the "global warming" scenario was more likely than normal, and yet, she thought the opposite because it was cold instead of warm.
Let me explain. Maybe some of you have forgotten.
Space (or Outer Space, some may still call it) is a vacuum. There is no atmosphere. We have a planet that is surrounded by a crust of earth, water and an atmosphere that is approximetly 10 miles (eg. about 16 kilometers) thick. In this area, there is an abundance of life.
Our world is isolated from other bodies in space. As a result, Earth is a "closed system", existing in a vacuum. Closed systems allow heat and energy to exchange, but matter generally does not -- meteorites are relatively insignificant in our case.
Our local star (eg. the Sun), shines down on us as we orbit it. The Sun's heat, warms our planet at a relatively constant rate. Our atmosphere acts just like a "Greenhouse" where the clearer the atmosphere is, the less heat from the Sun is trapped inside the atmosphere -- more of the Sun's heat simply reflects back into space, if the atmosphere is clear.
If the atmosphere is less clear, more of the Sun's heat is trapped in the atmosphere, warming the atmosphere, earth and water.
When a closed system's temperature is raised (eg. warmed), the system becomes more chaotic and its physics less predictable. A simple demonstration of this would be to heat a pot of water. At first, the water's movement is fairly predictable. It just sits in the pan. As the water heats up, it's state changes and begins to simmer, then boil, turning to steam. The water's movement becomes more "chaotic."
The same thing happens with Earth's atmosphere, earth and water. As we add more carbon pollutants to our atmosphere, more heat from the Sun is trapped and the currents in the Oceans and the weather in the Atmosphere becomes more chaotic, more unpredictable. The weather we have always had will change, it will be different, as a result.
If you notice that the weather where you live has become different from just a few years ago (say ten or twenty years ago), then you are seeing the symptoms of global warming.
Everything about the weather will become more and more unpredictable as this continues. We will see greater snowfalls. We will see lesser snowfalls. We will see record colds and record heats. Where it has always been hot, it will get cooler and hotter. Where it has always been cold, it will get hotter and colder that it has ever been on record.
If you watch The Weather Channel at all, you have seen this happening everywhere in North America. Record temperatures, both hotter and colder have been happening every season. Over time, we will see that there will be a steady increase, but year-by-year, it may be cooler, it may be hotter. This is also part of the chaotic results of the gradual increase in temperature in our Atmosphere, Oceans and Earth.
Is that clear now? Do you get it? I hope so.
There are some possibly unwanted impacts to our world, if we ignore the steady rise in pollutants in our atmosphere, but this article is not about that. I'm just trying to get everyone to understand what "global warming" really is.