October 7, 2011

Understanding Global Warming

Here is a simple thought exercise to help you understand why—when it comes to global warming and forced climate change—what you see is not what you will get.

Imagine a pot you have just filled with cold water. Place that pot over a heat source and watch. For a long time ... nothing happens, hence the old saying about a watched-pot that never boils. Eventually, small bubbles will form on the bottom of the pot. Those bubbles will rise to the top and gently shake the surface of the water in a simmer. Then a tipping point is reached. Bubble production is constant and rapid, and you suddenly having a rolling boil. Now turn your heat source off, and then wait until you think it is cool enough to stick your finger into the water.

What have we learned? First, water can heat for a long time without anything visible happening. But once the process of boiling begins, the progression is ever more rapid from nothing to simmer to a rolling boil. Second, once water reaches a boil, it takes a long time for it to cool down to where you would feel safe sticking your finger back into it. Even longer to return to its original temperature.

This is why climate scientists are so worried. An enormous amount of heat has been building up in the oceans and atmosphere. Like our hypothetical pot of water, there weren't a lot of visible effects for a long time. But now things are beginning to simmer. And given that we have done little to turn down the heat, the progression to boiling is inevitable and increasingly rapid.

Bottom  Line: We are past the point of preventing climate change forced by global warming. All we can do is sit back and watch the pot boil. Here's the kicker. Even if we did somehow magically turn off the heat right now—which you and I both know ain't going to happen any time soon—it would take a very long time for the atmosphere to cool back down.

Don't believe me? Check it out for yourself. You owe it to yourself and your kids and their kids.

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