Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Carbon Debate and Climate Change

From PAUL OATES in Queensland, Australia

One of the most important issues confronting the world and most national governments is climate change. While the Copenhagen Conference discusses what powers the United Nations will supposedly be given to combat climate change, the issues appear to some to have been overtaken by a calculated campaign of misinformation. Images shown at the Conference's Official opening of a terrified small girl clinging to a fragile tree branch while the rising water threatens to drown her was an excellent example of how a very serious issue can be highjacked by using fear as a weapon of choice. Anyone who dares speak out against the notion of human caused climate change is labelled a 'Sceptic and dismissed accordingly. The world's press are having a field day.
So what are the real issues and can they be discussed without descending into an emotional and non logical argument?
Is the Earth warming and the world's climate changing? Most scientific evidence seems to agree that the world's climate is changing. Many scientists also agree that the Earth has undergone these sorts of changes previously. The most recent example was a warming period around one thousand years ago when Greenland was in fact green and settled by Scandinavian settlers and dairy farmers. These warming and cooling periods seem to occur in a recognizable pattern and have happened on a regular basis in the Earth's history. OK you say, no apparent disagreement there. The issue about the current climate change stems from whether humankind's activities are exacerbating the current warming cycle by increasing the amount of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere.
Carbon Dioxide is a naturally occurring gas that is part of the Earth's make up from almost the very beginning when the Earth cooled after the 'Big Bang'. Planets like Venus that still have an atmosphere have large amounts of Carbon Dioxide as part of their atmosphere. So too did the Earth for many millions of years and certainly when life on Earth first developed. Now that must surely be a significant fact. CO2 is a natural part of our environment. Secondly, there appears to be no argument that the levels of CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere have fluctuated over time. Right, then, two areas of agreement.
What are the reasons for the altered levels of CO2 in the past? Well that again seems to be unarguable. Life on Earth has been one of the main causes for altered levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. To do this, it required the ability of plants to photosynthesize their food by using the sun's rays to stimulate chlorophyll contained within the plant and absorb CO2 and water (H2O) to make sugars and starches from which all life on Earth now depend. Free Oxygen (O2) is then given off as a waste product. When plant life emerged from the sea and colonized the land there were no large plant eaters available and plant life expanded to fill the available space. That's what life does. Plants will therefore automatically regulate the amount of CO2 to normal levels. That is, if there are enough plants available to effectively achieve the previous balance. If the balance between animal and plant life is being changed by rapid population growth, then that equilibrium is inevitably altered.
Previously, during the Earth's Carboniferous Age, there was so much carbon based plant life around that the CO2 levels fell and the O2 levels rose to greater than they are today. The effects of this imbalance created the vast stores of underground, compressed Carbon from dead plants known as coal. There is therefore a natural and constant see saw between Carbon Dioxide and Oxygen levels in the Earth's atmosphere and that has occurred since life on Earth began. Again, there doesn't seem to be any argument about this occurrence unless you subscribe to the head in the sand 'Creationist' theory that says it just all happened and ignore about HOW it happened.
So where does that leave us? Seemingly, with no real scientifically based disagreements at all. That is unless you want to debate whether so many parts per million of CO2 is more or less harmful to the world.
Enter the real problem confronting most world governments today. How to control their populations and give the illusion of power when if fact they have almost no power to do anything at all.
"No passion so effectively robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear." Edmund Burke 1729 -97
What if a nation's population can be diverted from concentrating about their government's inadequacies and start thinking about some far more important considerations? That's logical. What could also therefore be logical is that a concocted climate of fear that would be very welcome to take the heat off complaints about almost any government activity or lack thereof. Let's see how this might work..
-         Hospitals and health systems a mess? Sorry, too busy saving the planet.

-         Schools and Education going downhill? Sorry, far more urgent issues at stake.

-         World population is rapidly expanding and using more water and resources than there is available? EASY. Blame the effects on humans affecting climate change by destroying the environment.

-         Unable to force multi national companies to re engineer their energy inefficient and polluting products to less harmful alternatives. EASY. Blame consumers for using too much energy and threaten them with increased taxes on energy consumption in the hope this will decrease energy use.

-         Developing countries clamouring for a bigger share in the world's resources? EASY. Tax the developed world and give the money to errr.umm.. (Wait for it), the governments of the so called developing countries via a non elected and non representative quasi UN government? How? EASY. Hold a world Climate Change Conference and vote for this measure without your electors really knowing what's actually happening. Then spring the results on them as a 'fait accompli'.

-         Want to get the people to support your views? EASY. Promise developing nations a share of the Carbon Taxes you are planning to implement without voter approval. You'll soon have all those who can see easy money being vocally on your side without them having to do anything difficult at all. Of course we all know that the governments of developing countries will automatically give all this largesse to their people and not squander any of this windfall on themselves. don't we?
On the other hand. Practice good, accountable and responsible government?

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