WSAZ - Blogs - Ask Josh

GLOBAL WARMING Part 2

It's a heated debate. Is the Earth warming due to man or a natural cycle of the Earth's climate?

The phrase global warming refers to the documented historical warming of the Earth's surface based upon worldwide temperature records that have been maintained by humans since the 1880s. The term global warming is often used synonymously with the term climate change, but the two terms have distinct meanings. Global warming is the combined result of human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases and changes in solar radiance, while climate change refers to any change in the state of the climate that can be identified by changes in the average and/or the variability of its properties (e.g., temperature, precipitation), and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer.

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 counter opinion is that all that is presently perceived to be global warming is simply the result of a normal climactic swing in the direction of increased temperature. 

Global warming and climate change are aspects of our environment that cannot be easily or quickly discounted. Many still strongly feel that the changes our Earth is seeing are the result of a natural climatic adjustment. Regardless of one’s 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 camel’s 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 effected our environment by a cycle of harmful processes that now seem to be feeding upon themselves to exponentially increase the damage to our ecosystem.

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the decade of 1998-2007 is the warmest on record. The global mean surface temperature for 2007 was estimated at 0.41°C/0.74°F above the 1961-1990 annual average of 14.00°C/57.20°F. WMO states that among other remarkable global climatic events recorded in 2007, a record-low Arctic sea ice extent was observed which led to first recorded opening of the Canadian Northwest Passage.

The United States National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), found that in 2006 "Globally averaged land temperatures were +0.78°C (+1.40°F) and ocean temperatures +0.45°C (+0.81°F) above average, ranking 4th and 5th warmest, respectively. The land and ocean surface temperatures for the Northern and Southern Hemisphere ranked 2nd and 6th warmest, respectively," since global temperature record monitoring began in 1880. The NCDC report states that "during the past century, global surface temperatures have increased at a rate near 0.06°C/decade (0.11°F/decade) but this trend has increased to a rate approximately 0.18°C/decade (0.32°F/decade) during the past 25 to 30 years. There have been two sustained periods of warming, one beginning around 1910 and ending around 1945, and the most recent beginning about 1976."  0.5 to 1.5 degrees doesn't sound like much but it's a huge increase when you're talking about the entire Earth's temperature.

The difference between weather and climate is a measure of time. Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere "behaves" over relatively long periods of time.

When we talk about climate change, we talk about changes in long-term averages of daily weather. Today, children always hear stories from their parents and grandparents about how snow was always piled up to their waists as they trudged off to school. Children today in most areas of the country haven't experienced those kinds of dreadful snow-packed winters, except for the Northeastern U.S. in January 2005 and the winter of 2009-2010. The change in recent winter snows indicate that the climate has changed since their parents were young.

If summers seem hotter lately, then the recent climate may have changed. In various parts of the world, some people have even noticed that springtime comes earlier now than it did 30 years ago. An earlier springtime is indicative of a possible change in the climate.

Thanks for reading.  The debate continues...

Follow me on twitter: twitter.com/weatherjoshfitz

Post your comments below.

 

Read More Blogs
Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
WSAZ NewsChannel 3 645 Fifth Avenue Huntington, WV 25701 304-697-4780 WSAZ Charleston 111 Columbia Avenue Charleston, WV 25302 304-344-3521
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability