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Tom’s Opinion: Global Warming – Fact or Fiction?

Tom Egelhoff's opinion: Global Warming Fact or Fiction
Al Gore author of ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ (Photo by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images)

I’ve been around the planet a day or two. I’ve lived in warm climates, cold climates and in between climates. In recent years the topic of global warming moves to the headlines during or after some catastrophic disaster. The most recent example would be — hurricane Sandy. When these disasters occur, proponents of global warming pull out a myriad of studies and statistics from leading scientists to make the case that the planet is warming and unless something is done, and done soon, we are all doomed to extinction.

Global Warming Causes

Short answer — anything and everything. But when the finger pointing starts you don’t have to look any further than the nearest mirror. Since we can’t effectively change animal behavior, or where clouds do or do not appear the only answer left to account for global warming is us. Everything from fossil fuels and aerosols to outdoor bar-b-q’s, volcanic activity and forest fires are in the cross hairs of the environmental hall monitors.

Forest fires are a fact of life in Montana. Dry conditions, lightning strikes and you have fire. This past summer the fires were so bad that tourists could barely make it out to our beautiful mountains. Air quality in August and September was the worst I’ve seen in the twenty years I’ve lived here.

While the US does have The Environmental Protection Agency to monitor air and water quality, other countries are not so conscientious when it comes to protecting their citizen’s air quality. China and India both have a population of more than a billion people. Bombay, with a population of 19 million and Shanghai with 16 million are two of the largest cities in those two countries. Anyone who watched the 2008 Olympics saw first hand the levels of their pollution. The interesting fact many people don’t know is they banned a million cars, yes I said million cars, before the games to try to clean up their air before taking to the world stage. Pollution in Mexico City is unbelievable for their 20 million residents. So when millions of people get together, all releasing various pollutants into the air, there would seem to be some logic as to the effect of those activities on air quality.

Another Point of View

Other possibilities for global warming or cooling could be the earth itself. It’s been around a little longer than I have with much larger populations than we have now. Not talking about human population but every kind of gas emitting animal. American history books document herds of buffalo, “as far as the eye could see.” As far as the eye could see in Montana, would be one long distance.

Another scientific theory is “Orbital Forcing.”  Orbital forcing refers to variations of the earth’s orbit in relation to the sun. We know that earth does not spin straight up and down vertically on its axis. It wobbles — which is why we experience the four seasons. In summer the northern hemisphere moves closer to the sun and recedes in winter.

The earth’s orbit around the sun experiences miniscule changes, but over time, could have definite effects on the earth’s distance and angle toward, or away from, the sun. These orbital anomalies could occur over a span of a few years, or over 20,000 or more years. If orbital forcing is a partial cause of global warming it’s impossible to predict how the addition of fossil fuels and other man made pollutants will affect the earth’s temperatures in the future.

Some Final Thoughts

There is no question that the global warming topic is passionately debated on both sides. If global warming is caused by human behavior, as many believe, then how do we change the behaviors of an entire planet when we can’t even get along with our next door neighbors? Most nations on earth don’t play well with us. We invade their countries, bomb their citizens, dictate the cost of almost every commodity on earth, and control currencies. Gee, I wonder why they don’t want to cooperate with us to save the world?

Fossil fuels are going to be with us for a long time. Even if we are able to replace the internal combustion engine we still need oil for lubrication, roads, roofing, paints, plastics and a hundred other uses. The production of all those products also produce pollutants. Alternative fuels and replacements will come but there is an evolutionary process and that takes time. Wanting it badly is not enough. The phone, computer, automobile, TV were not created and perfected overnight. It took a while to get from the Model A to heated cup holders. From Alexander Graham Bell’s first phone to wireless took time. If this evolutionary process could be accelerated that would be great. But it can’t. The horse and automobile coexisted for over 50 years. If technological advances could be forced just because of desirability, we could have perfected the automobile much faster simply by shooting all the horses.

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