Archive for May, 2009

What does “green” mean to you?

Apparently this word, which we’re all familiar not only in environmental terms, but also as a color, is the new chic in the world of glam. After hearing about the “green” fever that everyone, most notably celebrities, has caught, one begins to rethink about the whole green movement that so many of us are hearing about. However, before talking about the “green” movement, we must lay the foundation first.

Scientists conclude, as well as in Thomas Friedman’s book entitled “Hot, Flat, and Crowded” that we are in a day and age that consists of heightened worries over climate, and for good reason. Approximately 10,000 years ago (~ice age time), the Carbon Dioxide levels in the atmosphere were 280 ppm (Friedman, 2008). Life on earth has lived under these carbon levels up until the beginning of the industrial revolution. The concern is that the Carbon levels in today’s atmosphere are ~350 ppm pushing ~400 ppm, up over 100 ppm since the industrial revolution.

Now many say, even several geologists, that increased carbon levels in the atmosphere are just part of a large scale cycle in which we are moving out of an ice age climate. That’s all well and good. However, geologically speaking, how long do you think it took millions of years ago to emerge from an ice age? 100 or so years? Think again. We all know as geologists that even though geologic events (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, etc.) are rapidly occurring, that large scale changes and events are gradual in occurrence. So that makes me think that the sudden spike in global temps (~1 degree Celcius), while it may not seem much, has been caused by something must more rapid than a gradual cyclic climate change.

The evidence is there. As previously stated, carbon levels have increased steadily since the dawn of the industrial revolution. This is not a coincidence (or just another step in the cycic history of the earth). This problem is man-made. We are destroying our home. Call me a hippie, tree hugger, whatever, but politics and petty squabble cannot stand in the way of this problem. If it does, well all pay and it does not matter who is wrong or who is right.

This gets back to my “green” argument in the beginning. Everyone is “green” these days, which is mighty fine. However, do they know the reasons why they are “green”? Do they know what needs to be done other than getting reuseable shopping bags supplied by Wal-Mart or changing their light bulbs? Highly doubtful. This is a shame because we need to be educated on this because global warming does not discriminate.

I will not drag on about what needs to be done. Just read Thomas Freidman’s “Hot, Flat, and Crowded” for all of the answers. However, since this is a Geology blog, I will briefly mention about the fossil fuel solution to this problem.

Extreme environmentalists, as well as extreme conservatives, have both villanized fossil fuel use. It is true that as a nation we are addicted to its useage. And this addiction, like all others, has destructive consequences if used improperly. A solution I am offering, as well as many others in this country and around the world, is the widespread use of clean technologies in the coal, oil, and natural gas industries. We can be capable of controlling the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere and still use fossil fuels. However, we cannot be as dependent upon them, as we must develop other sources of clean energy on which our country runs.

What I am not saying is stop our industrial capabilities. We need them to survive as a nation, as a world, and as the human species. We need innovation, and fast, to correct our harmful ways on improperly abusing the earth. This is not a battle of Democrat vs. Republican. That is the coward’s solution to the problem. We need to put our heads together to solve this issue, to save the planet for the future generations to come. If not, there will not be any future generations.

Read Full Post »