Global Warming (Yes, it's still happening)

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.


  1. While I may agree, there is new research that is starting to suggest that it is a natural cycle as recently the average temperature has been decreasing.

    Also, since man contributed CO2 is minimal in the grand scheme of the atmosphere, the general scare-mongering is not effective communication for the science involving climate change.

  2. I guess I can't expect people to follow the links and do their own reserach. But why the passion to answer? "CO2 is minimal"? Good greif.

  3. First, only commenting because I like the comic and the blog was about something that I'm interested in.

    Second, when I mentioned that CO2 was minimal I was trying to say that man-contributed amounts are much less than naturally occurring amounts and so our contributions are not as significant as what certain people (incl. scientists) are making out. Also, according to this website water vapour is the significant part of greenhouse effects which is almost all natural.

  4. Systems that allow energy transfers are not "closed". Even if the definition of "closed" allowed energy transfer, Earth still wouldn't be a closed system due to the massive outgassing that occurs.

    And yes, your theory of increasing chaos allows for local low records as well as high records. But no CO2 model predicted the eleven-year plateau of GLOBAL temperatures. This doesn't automatically doesn't invalidate the models, but it certainly doesn't support them either.

  5. Ok to explain the colder temps, think about this: If you blow across an ice cube you get a cool breeze, but it melts the ice just a little faster. Same with the polar ice caps. The warm winds (subjectively speaking) blow across the giant piece of ice and melt it just a little faster, but cause much colder temps.

    The other factor that no one seems to be taking into account is the Sun itself. The Sun is the primary heater for the Earth, not the core. So while the last few decades the solar activity has increased, it explains the warming temperatures. If the Sun starts to cool down, more of a chance for an ice age. Now other factors can help or hinder this effect, but it still comes down to what the Sun is doing versus what we do down here.

  6. regardless of all these theories the fact of the matter is that we don't have sufficient evidence one way or another to accurately predict the impact humanity will have on the global scale.
    Its as though a doctor sees a patient with a fever, puts some ice cubes on his head and then declares the patient better because his head is now cooler. Just like that doctor we are looking at the mere snapshot of the climate and just cause a certain change has been exhibited for a few decades (something that global warming doesn't have going for it) doesn't mean it is a trend or that it is due to humanities dabblings.

  7. I'd like to say that even if we aren't the current cause of our global warming, I know of very few people who would say we have no effect on it at all. I for one don't want to accelerate it even a particle! This is why we don't get to skate on doing what we can to alleviate our own contributions.

  8. Oddly. some seem to be saying that some scientists are disagreeing with the idea of global warming taking place right now

  9. It amazes me that in spite of growing evidence against it proof of falsified data and obvious political motvations this theory continues to be perpetuated with all the zealous enthusiasm of a religion. But what truly disgusts me the most about the carbon emmissions cult is that it has quite effectively drawn attention away from more concrete environmental concers and has encouraged the move of manufacturing into countries with little or no regard for environmental impact, worker rights, or quality control. If you really dig into the research on both sides of this you'll find much more in the way of legitmate data and re-creatable experimentation against it that otherwise. If after you have really given both sides a fare shake you decide that CO2 really is such a danger to the planet then please feel free to help mother earth out and stop breathing the stuff out.

  10. Good balanced comments here. Remember that only dubious computer models predict runaway warming in the first place, and history shows both much higher and much lower global temperatures. Drop the religious fervor and get back to science.

  11. Why are we emmiting CO2 anyways? Lets just all stop for half an hour all at once and help the planet out a little bit :P

  12. The earth isn't a closed system it's a choatic system. By definition a chaotic system is one where a change of a fraction of a percent can cause changes ranging from NOTHING to EVERYTHING.

    I would also say that humans have been affecting the planet in fraction of percents since we've first started farming and raising cattle. However I would say that modern humans are causing more fraction of percent changes than we have ever before.

    Personally as far as I'm concerned if you for some reason think that Carbon Emmisions are our greatest fear, you're reletively deluded. Sure they're a big thing but the truth of the matter is that the carbon cycle is uttlerly massive every biological system on the earth has evolved to "handle carbon". It's the other systems humans are tinkering with and how those systems affect larger ones that you should be worried about.


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