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HUM 003 6:30PM-7:30 PM MWF



What is global warming?

While some would call global warming a theory, others would call it a
proven set of facts. Opinions differ vehemently. Let us consider global
warming to be both a premise that the environment of the world as we know it
is slowly, but very surely increasing in overall air and water temperature, and a
promise that if whatever is causing this trend is not interrupted or challenged
life on earth will dynamically be affected.

The prevailing counter opinion is that all that is presently perceived to
be global warming is simply t he result of a normal climactic swing in the
direction of increased temperature. Many proponents of this global warming
ideology have definitive social and financial interests in these claims.

Global warming and climate change are aspects of our environment
that cannot be easily or quickly discounted. Many factions still strongly feel
that the changes our Earth is seeing are the result of a natural climatic
adjustment. Regardless of ones perspective the effects of global warming
are a quantifiable set of environmental results that are in addition to any
normal changes in climate. That is why the effects of global warming have
catastrophic potential. Global warming may well be the straw that breaks the
camels back. It could turn out to be the difference between a category three
hurricane and a category four. Global warming as caused by greenhouse gas
emissions can lead us to a definite imbalance of nature.

The premise of global warming as an issue of debate is that industrial
growth coupled with non-structured methods we as humans use to sustain
ourselves has created a situation where our planet is getting progressively
hotter. We have seemingly negatively affected our environment by a cycle of
harmful processes that now seem to be feeding upon themselves to
exponentially increase the damage to our ecosystem.

Causes of Global Warming

Let us start our examination of Global warming with a study of its
causes. Global warming is an overall state of existence that is the cumulative
effect of hundreds of environmental factors. All of these join together in both a
linear and random model to show global warming as a chain of events.

Most modern attention to the problem of global warming began with
discussion of depletion of the Earths Ozone layer. Ozone (O3) is a molecular
form of Oxygen. The Ozone layer is a relatively thin strata of these molecules
set in the lower portion of the Earths stratosphere.

Depletion of the Earths Ozone layer has resulted in a large increase in
Ultra Violet Radiation reaching the surface of the earth. Does this increase in
UV rays equate to global warming? Not really. In fact most scientific opinion is
that depletion of the Ozone layer results in cooling of both the stratosphere
and troposphere. So why mention depletion of the Ozone layer as regards to
global warming? Because it represents a needed balance between harmful
radiation being allowed to reach the earths surface and our desire to stem the
rapid increase in our air and water temperature. Remember, we are viewing
global warming as a chain of events.

What is the most significant cause of global warming?

The primary cause of global warming is Carbon Dioxide emissions.
CO2 is being pumped into our atmosphere at an insane pace; 8 billion tons of
CO2 entered the air last year. Of course some of this is due to natural activity
such as volcanic eruptions and people breathing. But the Earth is equipped to
easily absorb those into the normal regenerative process. No, the beginning of
global warming was caused by fossil fuels being burned and emitting plenty of

Currently in the world 40% of all CO2 emissions are caused by power
plants. These are burning coal, natural gas and diesel fuel. Some power plants
burn garbage. Some burn methane made from garbage. And discounting
those super green electrical generating plants designed to issue negligible
pollutants, all of our power plants let loose into the atmosphere CO2.

33% of all the CO2 sent forth is the product of cars and trucks. Internal
combustion engines burning fossil fuelsgasoline and diesel spew forth a
retching amount of CO2.

3.5% of all CO2 emissions are released from aircraft traveling our
friendly skies. Unfortunately, jets and other aircraft deliver their payload of
pollutants directly into the troposphere.

The numbers can be confusing

12% of all CO2 released into the atmosphere is related to buildings.
This figure varies from one source to the next. Some place the percentage of
emissions from buildings as high as 33%. What most of these figures do not
address is the actual cause of the CO2 emissions. In newly constructed
buildings, production of materials used in building and energy used during
construction are sited as the cause of carbon dioxide emissions. In existing
buildings the CO2 created by the energy upkeep of the building is the root of
the emissions quotient. The general comparison is that buildings consume
energy in the way that cars burn fuel. But the pollutants created in providing
power for heating, air-conditioning, lights and other usage in buildings has
already been factored. Honestly this double billing accounting is more the
product of auto manufacturers looking to point the blame for global warming
away from gas guzzling cars.

The point to remember is that 98% of all CO2 emissions are related to
energy production and 80% of these emissions become greenhouse gases.

Continuing the chain

Which now mentioned allows us to follow our chain of events leading to
global warming into the next most defined cause? Methane gas. Methane is
released into the atmosphere from a dozen major sources. These include
natural and manmade emissions. Natural release of Methane is primarily from
wetlands, (including agriculture) termites, the ocean, and hydrates. Non-
organic releases are based from, landfills, livestock, waste treatment, and
biomass burning. (More energy production). Almost all of this is offset by the
Earths ability to absorb around 97% of the methane released into the air. But
that remaining 3% is a serious problem. The molecular structure of Methane
makes it 20 times as powerful a Greenhouse gas than CO2. So while there is
a great deal less Methane to contend with than CO2, it is still the second
largest link in the global warming events chain.

Not every Greenhouse gas is as obvious a villain as Methane. The next
most potent problem is simple H2O water. How can water be a cause of global
warming? Our atmosphere contains a set parameter of water as vapor. This
vapor absorbs and radiates heat as does every molecule in the air. But when
the lower atmosphere (troposphere) has excess water vapor that gaseous
H2O is a potent greenhouse gas.

Another of the more commonplace greenhouse gases is Nitrous Oxide.
NO2 can make your car go faster, or make you relax at the dentist. It has quite
few beneficial uses. But as a greenhouse gas all it manages to accomplish is
to be one more ingredient in out atmospheric soup. Cars using catalytic
converters, fertilizer plants, manufacture of nylon, and nitric acid as well as
being produced naturally in our oceans and rain forests, produce Nitrous

All of the above plus quite a few other greenhouse gases comprise the
foundation of global warming. As above and in all discussion of global
warming they are cumulatively referred to as greenhouse gases. To
understand the importance of these as the start and endpoint of global
warming we must digress into a brief explanation of the greenhouse effect.

The Greenhouse Effect

Anyone who has either spent time in a greenhouse for plants or simply
gotten into a car on a hot summer day has personally experienced the
greenhouse effect. Heat enters an enclosed area and then reflects back and
forth building upon itself. While the ambient temperature outside might be 85
degrees Fahrenheit, inside an automobile the temperature easily zooms
upward to 130F. Simply put, the greenhouse effect is what happens when heat
is trapped in one way or another and then increases as more heat radiation is

This is fine if you are an orchid or other tropical plant. But living things,
including people, require set parameters of climate. When we discuss the
greenhouse effect as regarding global warming we place the effect into a
specific environment. That is the Earths atmosphere. When referencing the
Earth, our entire planet becomes the interior of an automobile in the heat of
summer. The Earth of course does not have a metal roof or a glass dome
around it to trap heat and reflect solar radiation back to its surface. Indeed
when drawings depict and descriptions explain the greenhouse effect the
principle is simplified to imply that this is the case. Actually the greenhouse
effect for the Earth is somewhat different
When solar radiation passes through out atmosphere the molecules
that constitute our air absorb it. The majority of solar heat is absorbed by our
planets surface. Different types of surfaces absorb or reflect heat in different
ways. A white blanket of snow will reflect much more heat than freshly paved
asphalt. Still everything that the suns rays fall upon either absorbs or reflects
heat. In the case of out snowy Polar Regions that heat is reflected back from
the planet. In the case of our cities it is trapped on the surface. From there it
radiates outward where living things attempt to adjust to the relative heat or
cold. Our planets original design was for a balance of all the components. Our
atmosphere absorbs enough heat to keep us warm but hopefully not bake us.
The angle of the sun in areas such as the poles creates an environment suited
to North and South Pole inhabitants. The people, creatures and plant life at
the Earths equator have acclimated to their section of the world.

The greenhouse effect occurs planet wide when solar radiation either
bounces off of or is radiated forth from the earth and instead of passing
through our atmosphere and outward into space, is absorbed by all kinds of
extra amounts of and extraneous gases and particles. These gases et al
absorb heat and then radiate it outward in all directions, one of those
directions, being the surface of the Earth. From there the process repeats itself
until we have a global version of a car with the windows rolled up parked in the
noonday sun.

Global warming as a chain of events

Once again remember we are attempting to define global warming as a
chain of events. The first several of these links is an over abundance of solar
radiation absorbing gases and other particles floating about in our

The next grouping of events concerns what happens when the small
percentage of increased heat on our planets surface and in our air begins to
effect long standing conditions.

Currently the measured effect of global warming as caused by the
greenhouse effect on the planet overall is approximately a 1 degree Celsius
increase over the last 50 years. This would seem to mean nothing. One asks,
How could one degree more or less effect anyone or anything. In terms of
that anyone, the effect of a one-degree difference in ambient temperature will
probably go unnoticed. Our bodies are designed to adjust to a huge range of
climatic conditions. No one of us will notice that today it is 71 degrees outside
and fifty years ago it would have been 70. The human body will adjust and
adapt even if the average temperature globally were to increase by ten
degrees. Chances are we would set off a huge oblivious migration to more
temperate areas. But that little one-degree change manages to set out of kilter
an incredible array of environmental forces.

While that one-degree of heat made you take off a sweater, segments
of the Earth known as permafrost began a meltdown. Permafrost is a condition
whereby sections of the Earths surface have remained at a temperature
below freezing (0 degrees Celsius) for at least two years. Literally, it means
permanently frozen soil. In actuality, most permafrost regions have been
frozen for thousands of years. A large portion of the Arctic is permafrost.
During summer months these areas seem to be thawed as they permit a two
to twelve foot layer of soil to g row vegetation. But beneath that summer
season lays a still frozen core. These frozen strata of the Earth lock away
huge amounts of gaseous content with the highest concentrations of gases
held in check by permafrost being Carbon dioxide and Methane gas. That one-
degree increase in overall temperature is allowing millions of underground
acres of permafrost to defrost and release even more greenhouse gas.


In a similar vein frozen areas know as Tundra are also experiencing a
subtle warming. Tundra describes the soil above permafrost that is frozen for
most of the calendar year but thaws for allowance of small amounts of
vegetation growth. Areas of Tundra throughout the world serve as sinks for
absorption of massive amounts of Carbon. As these areas begin to exist for
more months of the year above freezing they both release their stores of
Carbon and cease to function as greenhouse gas depositories.

The extremist view is that within another half century global warming
will simultaneously melt the arctic tundra releasing billions of tons of harmful
greenhouse gases and ignite the worlds rainforests destroying our planets
ability to create oxygen. Such a viewpoint is falsely alarming and without
basis. The real danger of global warming is sufficient without need to

Polar meltdown

The increase, albeit slight in overall temperature the planet is now in the
midst of, is more than sufficient to cause catastrophic effect. Take for example
our next link in the c hain of events feeding the effect of global warming. That
is the warming of our polar caps and oceans. An increase in overall
temperature for the troposphere allows that segment of the atmosphere to
absorb more water vapor. Much as we set a dew point for condensation of
moisture on the earths surface, the atmosphere has an evaporation point
allowing a larger volume off gaseous H2O to exist. A simple linear logic would
allow that a 1 percent increase in overall water temperature throughout the
earths atmosphere might allow a corresponding 1% increase in airborne
vapor. In truth there is a non-linear curve to this dialectic, but the general
principle follows suit and allows for our explanation. A 1% increase in water
vapor is a huge increase to the overall amount of greenhouse emissions. The
problem however is not caused by the increase whether it is 1% or 1000th of
one percent. The problem is that each release of an unchecked amount of
greenhouse gas precipitates a further release. So if we add excess water
vapor to our ecosystem it then further heats the atmosphere so as to allow
even more water vapor to encroach.

Ocean Temperatures and Positive Feedback

Our oceans digest most of the carbon footprint needing to be absorbed
into our ecosystem. But, if we raise the temperature of the oceans by as little
as 1/10th of one percent that ability to absorb and neutralize excess CO2 is

Currently greenhouse gas emissions from production of energy and
internal combustion engines results in a 36% increase in carbon dioxide over
that which the planets normal balance can support. This results in a subtle
increase in temperature that just happens to be enough to melt some of the
Earths permafrost, which then releases even more CO2. The CO2 then
slightly raises the Earths temperature resulting in an endlessly looping
progression. This situation and scenario is known as positive feedback and
this is the real danger inherent as global warming.

We can follow our ever-expanding chain of events further to a point
where man is more directly affected.

Environmental causes

Gaseous emissions are the largest issue as a cause for global
warming. But simple environmental issues still manage to total together and
create a factor that is in no way to be discounted as unimportant.

The greenhouse effect has caused our Polar Ice Caps to reduce in size
by 20% since 1979. This has resulted in more land and sea area being
exposed to absorb heat from the sun and as our continual cycle suggests
create more excess heat, which in turn melts more polar ice.

Not all of global warming is the result of greenhouse gases and the
ensuing greenhouse effect. As the population of the earth has increased
mankind has brought civilization to almost every corner of the globe.
Civilization includes buildings, highways, land cleared for agriculture, cities
built where once stood deserts. Almost everything that we build absorbs more
heat than its natural predecessor.

For hundreds of years we have sheared the tops off of mountains and
burned down millions of acres of forest just to look for precious metals. We
clear ten thousand year old growth areas just find hardwoods for lumber. We
are still clearing the Brazilian Rain Forests so cattle can be raised on the
grassy plains we create. And the semi-comical side of this is that we have
simultaneously destroyed lush plant life that would have through
photosynthesis turned CO2 into oxygen, so as to grow cattle, which are raised
in such abundance that their flatulence (Methane) is a measurable
greenhouse emission.

This is not to suggest that we tear down all of our houses to plant a
forest of trees and carve up the superhighways and replace them with lovely
green meadows. What we do need is an awareness of our situation. We need
to realize that every move we make as a result of industrialization has a
corresponding consequence.

Primary effects of global warming

The effects of global warming are in some ways less definable than the
causes. It seems odd that such huge manifestations of change such as rising
sea levels, glacier retreat, and Arctic shrinkage somehow manage to filter
down so that when members of western civilization safely tucked away in
homes and apartments look at the effects they are so remote as to become
invisible. What we may well bear watching are the effects of the effects of
global warming. These secondary results are so non-linear as to be a random
harvest of environmental and economic dilemmas that, when fully formed and
in place present a definitive short-term danger.

Still, let us once again follow a chain of events so as to be able to
completely envision the scale and scope of the problem.

Rising sea levels

Rising sea levels are an easily measurable effect of global warming. As
Polar ice melts down the water created obviously must go somewhere. Aside
from that ice which joins inland fresh water reservoirs, the vast majority of
melted ice joins the pool of the oceans. Most people misunderstand the effect
of polar meltdown and consider that this addition to our oceans creates the
overall rise in sea levels. This is hardly the case. The rise in sea levels due to
global warming is primarily ca used by thermal expansion. In short when you
heat a liquid (such as sea water) it expands. Sea levels are currently on a
pace to rise at a rate of approximately 1 inch every ten years. Such a small
change seems as if it could never affect quality of life for people living in such
distant from the oceans locations as Denver, Colorado.

Yet this is precisely the scenario by which we are all affected. Obviously
people living in low laying areas such as coastal Florida and Louisiana will
most directly be affected. A one hundred year model that allows for the current
progression of global warming factors would result in millions of acres of land
mass lost in these areas. Still we have set our viewpoint in the Rocky
Mountains not Holland or the eastern coast of England, both of which are
teetering at or below sea level.

Salt water intrusion

Our Denver citizen might enjoy bottled water from Zephyrhills, Florida
or any of the hundreds of fresh water springs gushing forth in the sunshine
state. Salt-water intrusion as a result of rising sea levels could easily destroy a
huge percentage of the potable water available in this and other coastal
states. Agricultural products of low-lying areas around the world will face
shortfalls. Production of fruits and vegetables is dependent on a stable set of
environmental conditions. Ever hear of the Indian River? Well most of
Americas grapefruit is grown there along the Florida coast and should we
follow the expected loss of coastline for all of the Southern US which is
projected at a possible 2 mile inward loss of coastline over the next 75 years.
Both the Indian River and Indian River Grapefruit will no longer exist. 50% of
American produce is grown in our low laying areas. A major effect of global
warming is that agricultural production will be decreased. Our planet will be
unable to grow as much food.

Beach erosion

A major secondary effect of rising sea levels is massive beach erosion.
Our Colorado vacationer will find the endless stretches of sandy beaches he
enjoys on his winter vacation have withered away to a few hundred yards here
and there. But a shortened tourist base is hardly a world catastropheis it?
Tourism pumps over 50 Billion dollars a year into Floridas economy. North
Carolina and Louisiana earn 15 billion dollars each through tourism. In fact
every US state and every nation on Earth with mild climate and a sandy shore
depends upon financial gain from tourism to sustain its economy.

Lest we dwell only on financial impact consider that loss of coastal
acreage will displace thousands of species of animal and plant life.

Extreme weather

Perhaps the most commonly conceived notion as to the effects of
global warming is that of cataclysmic weather. In fervor to promote the cause,
too often we see graphic depictions of raging floods, category 12 hurricanes
and dozens of tornadoes sweeping the landscape. These same depictions
seem to serve those who accept the threat of global warming and those who
reject the possibility. One agenda hopes to frighten the world into an austere
program of self-denial so as to instantly curb global warming causes. The
other faction points out that currently there are no typhoons sweeping across
Kansas so therefore global warming is a but a myth. As always when dealing
with scientific anomalies the truth lies nicely hidden in between.

Category 4 and 5 hurricanes have risen in frequency from 20 to 35%
over the last 30 years. Since the dawn of the industrial revolution, frequency of
hurricanes overall has risen by almost 40% and the those hurricanes now
making landfall deposit almost 10% more rainfall than their pre 1970
counterparts. As an effect of global warming hurricanes are stronger, wetter
and more numerous. Hurricane Fay from 2007 created massive flooding over
a dozen states. This increase in storm activity is directly related to a wider
variance between warm and cold ocean waters. Consider that the
measurement of temperature rise in ocean waters is based on an overall
average. Storms are created by the extremes that create that average.

Global warming produces as byproducts, variance in the jet stream,
wind sheer, greater quantity of cyclones, and drought.
Increased rainfall

If we increase the temperature of the air it is able to absorb more
moisture in the form of water vapor. If we cool the air that vapor becomes
liquid and falls to the earth as rain. The greater the amounts of water vapor the
atmosphere absorbs the greater the amount of rainfall we will receive during
the normal process of reaching a dew point or other yard stick of precipitation.
This increased rainfall results in drastically increased erosion. Areas such as
Colorados Platte River long noted for the devastation following its hundred-
year floods can in no way accommodate that same volume of water arriving
every decade. Erosion is vulnerable tropical areas such as Africa results in
native plant life dying off and a resultant desertification.

Evaporation, by definition is a cooling process. So why then is this
increased evaporation not countering global warming? Because the water
vapor that enters the atmosphere counters the cooling process while acting as
a greenhouse gas. It should be pointed out that change in climate for targeted
areas can often result in a plus side modification meaning that adding water to
dry areas usually results in those areas being able to support vegetation.

Destabilization of local climates

The overall destabilization of local climates is a major effect of global
warming. The Arctic is home to over 4 million people. Canada, Russia, and
Alaska are dealing with a tremendous rise in bacterial growth as permafrost
regions warm.

Glaciers in the northern hemisphere have decreased in size by 50%
over the last 100 years. This particular meltdown has resulted in landslides;
flash floods and lake overflow throughout the Andes, Alps, Pyrenees,
Himalayas, and Rocky Mountains. These seasonal meltdowns are followed by
seasonal droughts. Global warming creates climate extremes. We may
measure the average but we live with the outcome of the extremes. The slow
steady melting of the Himalayas results in the steady flow of water of the
Ganges River. The Ganges is the lifeblood of over 500 million people. To say
this plainly, if we melt all of our fresh water too quickly and send it out to blend
with the ocean billions of people, including our friend in Denver, Colorado will
go thirsty.

Acidic Oceans

Our Oceans are the Earths largest sink for the absorption of CO2 from
our atmosphere. As excess CO2 is dealt with, the oceans in an effort to
balance the ecosystem have become saturated with CO2. This has resulted in
production of mild carbonic acid and is known as ocean acidification. While
this is an extremely slight change in the ph (acid to base) balance of the seas
it does result in damage to corals. Coral reefs are home to the vast majority of
undersea life.

Ocean acidification coincides with Oxygen depletion in our oceans.
Heavier CO2 molecules are supplanting oxygen. Less oxygen equals less fish.


As temperature swings increase we are left with flooding in some areas
and drought in others the drought creates correct conditions for forest fires.
These fires, like our hu rricanes, are suddenly emerging on a much grander
scale. The 2009 fires raging through Australia and the 2002 fires in Florida
serve as excellent examples. Massive fires release much more carbon as both
particle and molecule than can readily be absorbed. Once again prevalent anti
global warming as reality belief is that these fires can only be considered a
natural effect of the ecosystem and as the forests are a naturally renewing
resource should be discounted as an effect of global warming. However with
global warming defined as a premise of additional stress on our environment
we come to realize that it is not the existence of a naturally made fire but the
scale of that event that matters.

Secondary effects of global warming

All of the above initial effects of global warming set into motion the
following more directly adverse effects. Every human being, animal and plant
on planet Earth feels these second tier effects.

Decreased crop yields

For a short time it was hoped that a byproduct of global warming would
be increased yields of agriculture. The obvious conclusion was that plant life
through photosynthesis would make good use of the increased carbon dioxide
in the atmosphere and produce a lush abundance of flora. Certainly areas
such as Iceland, which due to an overall warmer climate can now support the
growth of crops such as barley, have benefited from global warming. Regions
such as Siberia are now able to produce food. But overall the effect of global
warming on agriculture is decidedly negative. Floods and droughts do not
make suitable growing fields. In Africa, areas that historically received two rain
falls yearly now receive more resulting in increased yields, but areas receiving
one rainfall per annum now receive less. This of course results in a
nonexistent growing season and a 33% decrease in harvestable crops. While
an increase in rainfall may increase yields for those already able to produce a
harvest a decrease in rainfall results in a complete lack of food for others.

Flooding of coastal areas results in coastal growing plains being
destroyed. For many poorer countries these are the only fertile areas
accessible to transportation via waterways. Poor countries like Bangladesh are
completely at risk to massive starvation caused by coastal flooding.

Many Pacific Island nations will be completely eliminated as sea levels
rise. It is already planned to evacuate the peoples of Tuvalu to nearby New
Zealand as flood defense in not economically or agriculturally possible.

Species Migration and Extinction

People will not be the only living things on the move due to global
warming. As regional ecosystems change many species will be unable to find
historical food sources. This will result in mass migrations to climates hoped to
support those species as well as mass extinction of those animals unable to
migrate an /or adapt. Polar bears, emperor penguins, gyrfalcons and snowy
owls are just a few of the species current in peril in the new warmer Arctic and
Antarctic regions. Longer warm seasons result in such basic changes as a
Polar bears loss of natural camouflage. A white bear on brown earth is easy
for a seal to avoid.

Birds and butterflies have shifted the range of their migrations almost
200 kilometers in North America and Europe. Plant life is unable to shift
regions as quickly and as such will die out unless manually replanted in more
conducive settings. When herbivores migrate to find a genetically compatible
climate they face the risk of starvation when their traditional foodstuffs have
not migrated with them. Many species are simply unable to migrate to better
climes and as such will suffer the fate of Australias white possum. Unable to
survive in temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius the entire species was
destroyed during a surprisingly excessive heat wave during 2005. Their loss is
directly attributed to global warming.

Severe winters in British Columbia have always managed to keep in
balance the voracious effect of the Pine Beetle. Warmer temperatures have
now allowed the beetles to profligate and destroy 33 million acres of Canadian

Mountain run off of melting snows is expected to result in seasonal
flooding followed by seasonal drought in every mountain range in the world.
Mountains cover one fourth of the Earths land mass. As upper mountain
areas warm it is expected that overheated lower level animals and plants will
simply move up to a higher elevation. But what of life already situated at the
upper threshold? Once they reach the top of the mountain where will they
move up to?

The Human Condition

Of course we tend to realize the plight of animals as we can easily see
their need to migrate to better stomping grounds. But, what are the direct
effects of increased temperature on homosapiens?

Disease spreads in an overheated environment. Ever notice that there
isnt a lot of malaria in Buffalo, New York or Moscow, Russia. Cold kills germs.
Global warming will extend the favorable zones for many infectious diseases.
Encephalitis, Lyme disease and the aforementioned malaria will join with other
bacteria based carriers of illness to spread throughout areas previously
thought of as safe zones.

Our bodies must work harder to cool off when placed in a higher
ambient temperature. Cardiovascular function is directly reduced by even a 1-
degree temperature increase.

Higher concentrations of greenhouse gases in the air we breathe are
also directly damaging to lung tissue and lung capacity.

Summation of effects

The effects of global warming are beginning to manifest themselves.
While the greatest threat still lies at a point perhaps some fifty years forward,
the current problems and predicaments are more than a harbinger. Global
warming has already diminished the quality of life for the worlds poorest
peoples. Hunger and starvation on the African continent is its greatest reality.
If global warming is ignored and, shall we say, allowed to prosper, we the
fortunate percentage of the Earths populace living in first tier nations may very
well join the fray of increased human suffering.

In the long term

Now, the most obvious thought anyone who did not believe in global
warming would think is that all of these factors have existed for millions of
years and the fluctuations in them, such as amounts of greenhouse gases and
changes in the surface of the Earth are too small to drastically effect climate.
In the long term, that is, say a length of 100,000 years that is probably true.
The Earth as a master clockwork will probably naturally adjust to all of mans
device. But mankind may not be around to appreciate the changes as those
same changes may exclude mankind from existence.

Global Warming Solutions

Obviously there is no one magic solution to the problem of global
warming. There are instead hundreds of questions that need to be asked and
addressed so as to create an overall Earth plan that will develop our planet
wisely. The changes we can make, both large and small when combined will
curtail global warming for the better. In this section we discuss the latest green
designs, products and ideas as yet undeveloped that will reduce
environmental damage overall.

We plan to offer honest value comparisons of products such as hybrid
cars. If the carbon footprint made from producing a hybrid is ten times larger
than that it erases it is news that should be shared. Compact florescent lights
are great energy savers but are all of these exactly what they claim to be? And
furthermore will light emitting diodes render CFLs obsolete before they are
universally adapted.

As always the future holds a newer and possibly better design. We will
be bringing you articles examining what will come and those products that are
already available but await widespread acceptance. Developments in mass
renewable energy production in such areas as solar and wind power are of
interest to all. We will also be looking back at past successful use of these
energy choices. Zenith sold tiny windmills in the late 1930s that would charge
a car battery that in turn would run a radio for days. Has the technological
upgrade been utilized?

We will find solutions to the problem of global warming by asking
countless questions about the processes we rely upon to live. We answer
these questions on a personal level by changing the habits, which build each
of our carbon footprints and on a global level by insisting that social and
governmental structure acknowledge the need for environmental protection.

Green Building Solutions

Which is cheaper to build a house with, a spruce timber 2 by 4 or a
steel stud? It might cost less to build a house using lumber, but is it cheaper in
the long run? Especially when one considers the cost of greenhouse
emissions and how they are affected by loss of trees. But steel must be
refined and molded using plenty of energy. Which of these uses more power
and consequently causes a larger carbon footprint? It is difficult to say, but
choice of build materials is a definite part of how we can change the way we
build homes and other buildings so as to save money and energy. Choice of
building materials is just one part of what is known as green building.
Green building can best be described as the birth to grave process of building.
From choosing a site through architectural design, choice of materials,
construction, occupancy and eventual demolish, every aspect of a buildings
effect on the environment is considered. Paramount among these is energy
efficiency as part of the dwelling use.

Green building can be taken to as simple or as extreme a degree as
one desires. For example simply choosing darker shingles in a colder climate
is passive energy conservation. Placing solar photovoltaic cells on that same
roof will actually produce more power than is used within the building at times.
Lets break down the various components of green building for examination
beginning with siting and design. These two are closely tied together. Siting
considers factors such as exposure to sun and wind. Placing a home so that it
faces west during the afternoon sun has been a form or energy conservation
practiced for years. Likewise we reverse the placement of our building in
warmer areas. Consider now that we incorporate design elements to further
our efficiency. We might use large double paned windows in the northern
climate to allow a useful warming greenhouse effect in one location or smaller
tinted glass in the hotter locales. Choosing where we place our building and
then incorporating design elements that save on heating and cooling are
fundamentals of green building.

Energy efficiency can be taken much further of course. Taking a quick
look at energy use in the home leads us to the conclusion that the majority of
our power costs are placed in heating and air conditioning, hot water, lighting
and cooking. Green building techniques for inside climate control include air
pipe ventilation, rooftop solar panels and geothermal heat exchangers. These
can cool your home, make hot water and power your lights. Most importantly
they drastically reduce your dependency on electricity as furnished by your
power company and in this way they save you a great deal of money over the
lifespan of your home.

Water conservation is a major aspect of green building. Simply by diverting
gray water from your sewer to your lawn you achieve two goals. You protect
diminishment of fresh water supplies while watering your lawn. Point of use
water treatment saves money right from its inclusion in construction.

Of course, what you choose to build your house out of is as large a
factor today as it was 1000 years ago when native peoples were digging caves
into cliff walls. Obviously this was a wonderful example of materials efficiency.
But one doesnt need to live in a cave to be materials energy efficient. Building
materials made from compacted earth and natural stone accomplish much the
same effect. Using recycled materials such as our steel 2 by 4 reduce our
home cost in terms of carbon, as do polyurethane blocks, planks and siding
made from recycled plastic and demolition debris. There is no reason that any
home has to be built at the cost of a hundred acres of trees.

Simple systems such as passive lighting (skylights) and air pipe
ventilation can drastically improve the quality of life for occupants. Use of
natural building materials almost guarantees fewer volatile particles and a
higher indoor air quality. Most man-made materials release minute amounts of
health damaging toxic gases. There is a reason why we call it Fresh Air.

Green building costs on average just 5% more than current
standardized construction practices. That number would drop to the point of a
direct savings if green building were to become the standard. As with almost
every energy-saving vehicle, we can drastically reduce costs if we increase
volume. Green building returns a savings of 50 to 70 percent on energy costs
over the life time of a building. Yes, addition of items like solar panels and
geothermal underground pipes is a supplemental cost. But the initial cost of
these electricity bill lowering features has been proven to quickly pay for itself.

One doesnt have to build a two hundred foot tall wind turbine in their
front yard to save on energy costs. Simple procedures like proper site planning
and choice of construction materials can cut a new homes energy bill by 25%
instantly. And while monetary savings are important, the true savings from
green building is not measured in dollars. Rather it should be counted in
overall improved quality of life in the home and office and overall improved
health of the planet Earth.

Utilizing Geothermal Energy for Power, Heating and Cooling

For years geothermal energy and power has been limited in context to
utilization of naturally occurring steam that has been used to turn turbines and
consequently create electric power. These natural occurrences are tapped into
with what are known as geothermal wells. Due to these occurrences being
limited in location to areas along tectonic plate faults (cracks in the Earths
shell) there generally has not been too much effective use of geothermal
resources. In fact geothermal power amounts to just .3% of our worldwide
energy production.

In much the same way as we drilled the Earth for oil over the last
hundred years, we can drill for acceptable geothermal outlets. As with the
search for fossil fuels, we simply attempt to find places that are hot enough
and close enough to the Earths core so as to allow for injection of water which
will then be turned to steam so as to drive an electricity producing turbine. Just
as when drilling for oil, drilling for geothermal access costs millions of dollars.

Of course, the majority of geothermal power stations rely upon the
natural occurrence of steam as a result of water intrusion into the inner
reaches of the Earth where nearby magma has heated the surrounding rock.
In many ways this natural creation of blazing hot steam is rare but the sheer
size of the earth makes so many opportunities for the occurrence and the ease
of discovery has resulted in quite a few large geothermal fields being placed
into use.

The largest geothermal power station in the world is known as The
Geysers. It is located around 72 miles north of San Francisco. Technically not
geysers, the entire area is a geothermal hotbed with 22 power plants
combining to create over 1300 megawatts of power. Power from The Geysers
provides 60% of all the electricity used in the area of California from the
Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border.

Unlike our general concept of steam from a tea kettle or used in an
antique locomotive, the geothermal fields of The Geysers produce super
heated dry steam. The ultra hot non vaporous steam can more efficiently drive

Unfortunately, the natural flow of water into The Geysers area has
steadily diminished over the years and the overall power output has fallen.
Basically the area supplying water to the hot rock beneath the Earths surface
has begun to dry up. Less water equals less steam which equals less power.
Plans are underway to possibly convert the power stations to inject Brown
Water from the area so as to create a truly regenerative and sustainable
power source.

Unlike wind or solar power, geothermal energy is not always endless in

But there are far more effective ways to tap into the variances and
differentials in the Earths temperatures. One doesnt need to dig a well to a
fissure point of water and molten lava to take advantage of geothermal
resources. Indeed, a more passive approach to energy production is proving
to be more efficient.

Geothermal energy can be tapped into on many different levels. The
individual homeowner can use geothermal energy to both heat and cool his or
her home at a tremendous savings. Anyone can take advantage of geothermal
energy in their home.

Basically home geothermal is used for home heating and air
conditioning. A home geothermal heating and air conditioning system centers
around piping filled with fluid buried deep in the ground of your property.
These pipes can be coils of plastic tubing laid horizontally just 10 20 feet
below the surface of the earth or they may be vertically placed hundreds of
feet deep.

The purpose of these pipes is to take advantage of the relatively stable
temperatures of the Earth once one digs down a bit. Even in the coldest
climates, the Earths temperature is at least 55 degrees at a depth of 20 feet.
As one digs deeper into the Earth, the stored energy of the sun is replaced by
the heat of the Earths core. The core of the Earth is molten rock with a
temperature of around 8000 degrees.

Home geothermal systems take advantage of this differential directly.
Obviously during the summer one can easily run water cooled under the earth
through radiators and send that endless supply of 55 degree cooling into a
homes 90 degree air. This is so effective that many eco-conscious homes are
cooled by air pipes hundreds of feet long. In this most passive example of
geothermal energy use, air is blown through huge hollow pipes which run
underground. The heat is drawn by conduction from this air as it passes
through the length of cool underground. It is then returned directly through the
duct-work of the home. Basically this is air conditioning with no need for
compressors, coolant or mechanical heat exchange. Consequently the cost to
run an air pipe cooling system is incredibly low.

By comparison, heating systems relying upon geothermal exchange
must use heat pumps that mechanically trade on the temperature differential
so as to build a greater amount of heat. While this is more efficient than other
forms of creating heat such as electrical friction it does still have a cost. A heat
pump based from a geothermal piping system is still two to four times as
initially expensive as conventional heating.

Passive Geothermal heating and air conditioning is just one aspect of
what falls under the heading of Green Building which shows we can design
and build our homes and commercial buildings from the outset to use less

Advancement in Solar Energy Technology

The atmosphere, oceans and land mass of the Earth absorbs enough
energy from the sun in one hour to power the entire planet for one year. Surely
we are clever enough to capture some of this magnificent force and use it to
fuel our environment.

Solar energy and its use can be divided into two areas. Those are static
or passive solar energy collection and dynamic, or perhaps better termed,
kinetic solar energy collection and use.

An example of passive solar energy collection would be building a
house so that the windows face the morning sun in colder climates. An even
more rudimentary example would be that of an alligator sunning himself on the
edge of the water. In both cases the suns energy is simply absorbed for
warmth. And the simplest use of solar energy is as the very daylight we walk
about in. Our Earth automatically uses the power of the sun in millions of
ways. Not the least of which is photosynthesis by plants for production of
oxygen for our atmosphere. Ours is an inherently rechargeable renewable
world, provided we use our resources such as solar energy wisely.

To that end, we must examine dynamic solar energy collection for the
production of warmth and light.

When you walk though almost any shopping mall built in the last twenty
years you will probably notice a flood of bright natural light all around you.
Most large malls and department stores are built with double paned insulated
windows that allow light to enter yet keep heating or cooling locked inside. But
what happens when the sun follows its arc away from those windows? Active
solar lighting can use mirrors that track with the suns movement and then
reflect light into fiber optic cable that can carry that light into any part of our
same department store.

We can create transfer warmth through various forms of solar thermal
energy. Since the 1950s it has not been uncommon to see simple glass paned
boxes filled with copper pipes used to help heat water for swimming pools and
boilers. These low temperature collectors are fine for space heating but there
are far more effective ways to heat water with the suns rays and put that
water to work.
High temperature parabolic shaped mirrors can heat water to far
greater temperatures than made possible by our simple rooftop hot boxes. In
fact bowl and trough type mirrors can boil water to steam which in turn uses a
turbine to generate electricity for heating, air conditioning and general power
supply. When properly applied, this concentrated solar power can supply 50%
of the power needs for a modern factory. Concentrated Solar Power is one
half of our method for creating electricity from the suns radiant energy.

The most commonly thought of use and form of solar energy
conversion is that of relying upon solar voltaic cells. These solar cells are also
called photovoltaic. First developed in the 1880s, photovoltaic cells rely upon
the electronic reaction of certain key elements to the Suns rays so as to
produce a tapable flow of electrons that are in turned used to create current
flow. In short photovoltaic cells turn sunlight into energy. And lest we think we
are so clever for figuring out how to do this, consider that plants have been
turning sunlight into energy for millions of years.

Advances in the development of photovoltaic cells have increased
drastically since the oil shortages of the 1970s. This is primarily due to
development of silicon technologies. Crystalline silicon cells when working in
conjunction with CSP (concentrated solar power) as supplied by parabolic
mirrors have improved output from Photovoltaic cells by a factor of 50 since
their more basic development in 1954. Increases in demand and subsequent
increases in production have lowered the price of solar cells to the point that
they are now almost competitive with wind power technology and like their low
emissions wind counterparts are far less costly than nuclear power.

Energy generation using wind turbines

The key to understanding Wind farming technology is to break values of
the power produced down using simple arithmetic. Indeed, all energy
production is a numbers game with each source of power having its
appropriate initial and ongoing cost. Factored with these costs must be the
price we all pay in terms of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions. Just as
we universally share in the cost of health care due to cigarette smoking we
similarly all pay for any damage done to the health of our planet.

At the present time, wind farms in the United States produce electricity
at a rate of over 20 billion Kilowatts of power. This is enough to provide
electricity for 4.9 million households. Not too bad is it? But this same total of
power can be produced by just two nuclear plants or if you prefer 40 coal fired
power plants.

In terms of hydroelectric power, the Hoover Dam produces just under 3
billion watts of power. 7 Hoover dams equals all the combined US wind power.
So why not just build more giant hydroelectric dams or spread nuclear plants
all around the earth?

Debate over safety from nuclear power plants is ongoing and intense.
And the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from each of those 40 coal fired
plants equals around 3 million tons a year. There are many conclusions we
can draw from all of our wind farming arithmetic.

The first is that even though we have barely tapped into the viability of
using wind power to heat, cool and light our homes, the progress thus far
shows that the feasibility is proven. We have the land and we have the wind. If
we had ten times as much wind power generation we could provide power to
50 million homes or if you prefer 150 million people. No, this doesnt mean that
our overall energy needs could be so easily met. Industry uses far more
energy than housing. Cars, buses, trains, planes and those coal fired power
plants themselves massively chew up power and spit out pollutants.

Nuclear power releases one fiftieth as much greenhouse gas into the
atmosphere than does a coal fired plant. A hydroelectric dam just 10% of that
and a wind farm half of the CO2 emissions of the dam. By comparison,
greenhouse gas emissions from wind farming is minuscule.

But as long as we are doing some math, the accountants will have us
calculating the cost of building our wind farm. This is pretty simple. It costs
around 5 million dollars to make a one million watt producing wind turbine.
This is a cost of five dollars per watt. Coal fired plants have initial costs of
around $1.50 per watt. Solar power bounces between 3 and 7 dollars per watt
and nuclear power comes in at a cost of a whopping 11 dollars per watt.

Now what makes wind turbine technology the most feasible of all of
these is two things. The first is the already mentioned clean emissions
standards from wind power. The second reason that wind farming is the future
for power production worldwide is that once you produce a large enough wind
farm the price per watt will plummet drastically. A 100 megawatt wind farm can
be built for 100 million dollars, or a dollar a watt.