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Friday, April 23, 2010

The Answer to Global Warming?

The is an opinion piece on CNN's website that is expressing an idea that I have been having lately: namely that nature itself is trying to correct our folly.

As the debate about Global Warming has heated up (sorry, I couldn't resist), in the back of my mind, I have wondered if the earth might not be cooling itself with volcanic eruptions.

Let me say from the outset that I do subscribe to the idea that the earth is warming up -- and that man is having an effect on it. I think the science is clear enough to make such an assumption.

However, volcanoes do cool the environment -- and a large enough volcanic event causes cooling of global temperatures. So much so, that certain volcanoes in the past have caused A Year Without a Summer.

What I fear is that if we do get a cooling event from volcanic activity, it will lead to Global Warming deniers to claim there is no harm from "business as usual."


JP said...

Peak oil.

It's not a problem, it's a solution!

Dink said...

I watched a documentary on Hurricane Camille once. This old Cajun guy said "Mother Nature is going to bite back. She's going to bite back hard.

"It's not a problem, it's a solution!

Aw man, am I going to have to learn how to raise mules, use a sextant, and give up Netflix and donuts?

Edwardo said...

That thesis is volcanic voodoo, I say. If the earth is "self regulating" against mankind's overweening tendency to screw up natural processes, it's more than likely just a happy (or unhappy depending on who or what you are) accident. Having said that, I am a believer, and belief is the operative word, that someone somewhere might be constructing something "corrective" in response to the effects of humanity's excesses. We'll see.

OkieLawyer said...

This is what caught my attention:

As they flow off the land, we are warned, seas rise. Yet something else is lately worrying geologists: the likelihood that the Earth's crust, relieved of so much formidable weight of ice borne for many thousands of years, has begun to stretch and rebound.

As it does, a volcano awakens in Iceland (with another, larger and adjacent to still-erupting Eyjafjallajokull, threatening to detonate next). The Earth shudders in Haiti. Then Chile. Then western China. Mexicali-Calexico. The Solomon Islands. Spain. New Guinea. And those are just the big ones, 6+ on the Richter scale, and just in 2010. And it's only April.

That is to say that some natural process took place that caused a reaction the basically "self-corrected" the imbalances. I was reading about how some theorize this had might have led to the extinction of the dinosaurs.

I went to Guadalupe Mountains National Park in February, and remembered reading where the top of the mountains were the shoreline of a great inland sea. You can find fossils there of sea life and corals, if memory serves.

This is all a little fuzzy, but I seem to remember that there was a theory about how how this was tied into the extinction of the dinosaurs with a changing climate.

OkieLawyer said...


...a reaction that basically "self-corrected" the imbalances.

Thai said...

Hey Okie

@JP re: "It's not a problem, it's a solution!"


@Edwardo, agreed. Voodoo indeed

... Plus it make disagreement impossible, kind of like that old argument "you'll never prove there are no angels" so they therefore exist.

While I can't really disagree with the argument, it changes the discussion from one of scientific reductionism (the very argument that claims climate change is a problem) to voodoo externalizations.

As for heating up a system: there is energy into a system and energy out and what is left heat the system up. The idea that the system itself can somehow increase its heat/energy is, well frankly... you can fill in the blank yourself.

Now humans are clearly changing the climate, but this is very different than global warming and to be fair, we have been doing this since our species appeared on this planet.

We might not like some changes, and should try to avoid them, but we will always change the climate and it is a very different thing than global warming.

And anthropomorphizing mother nature is... (fill in the blank)

Thai said...

Great post by Mish today on Greece if you guys didn't catch it

Thai said...

And Okie, if you are getting into cooling research, don't forget the earth was once a frozen snow ball; the oceans were frozen solid.

In fact, one of man reasons I'm kind of fond of Archeabacteria (e.g. the third domain of life after Bacteria (e.g. bacteria) and Eukarya (e.g. you, me and life like us) is that some theorize their extremophile ancestors we one of the main ways that life held on during that difficult period in time.

... Of course it is all just conjecture.

Thai said...

Last point

In a closed system, if man makes a change, it will be felt everywhere in that system and at some level changes must ultimately be zero sum when you add them all up.

Energy must be conserved.

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