Biologist: Global Warming Puts Water Supplies in Trouble
An Interview with a Biologist and Chemist About Global Warming
I had the perfect opportunity to interview a very interesting, yet bright woman from Pueblo, Colorado, named Jen about global warming. I discovered her knowledge of global warming when we talked via mail on a popular social networking website about the controversial issue.
She asked that I not use her last name to remain discreet and protect her privacy. This is what she had to tell me about one of the most controversial, yet current issues in the world today.
As you are aware, this is the 21st century, global warming is as controversial as ever. It's one of the biggest issues facing the world today.
I am painfully aware. It seems to me that the US has taken a step backwards when it comes to issues involving the environment and the impact our lifestyle has it. The most frightening thing to me was hearing about how our government was trying to control climate information coming out of NASA. Also, I literally cringe when I hear someone say that they do not "believe" in global warming ... it sounds absurd as if someone told me they don't believe in gravity.
Tell me some general information about yourself (what is your name, what do you do, etc) and how you are involved with the global warming issue.
My name is Jen. I'm a biologist/chemist and I work primarily with water quality. I do chemical and biological analysis of fresh water environments. (Another very important environmental issue.) My viewpoint is very scientific. I actually find myself in opposition with organizations such as Greenpeace because many of them do not take a scientific approach. I am a veteran of the United States Air Force and I'm actually a Republican (well, I was before Dub ya Bush - we'll see from here). I fall quite neatly into a moderate/conservative political category. People are often very surprised to hear that from me. Most people in my field, and in fact most people that are concerned with environmental issues, are much more liberal than myself.
Some people are skeptical about global warming, in general that they are confused by its exact definition. What is global warming?
Global warming is the catch phrase to describe theories that human activities are responsible for the increase in over-all global temperature and that if humans do not change their activities, the earth will eventually warm too much causing irreparable damage to the eco-system and life as we know it.
As you are aware, global warming has been associated heavily with the sun. Can you explain how the sun is dramatically involved in global warming and its cause and effects, as a result?
I am aware of this, but I cannot tell you how the sun is involved because I don't think it is. Or should I say, I don't think there have been any changes with the sun that make a significant impact on the problem. (Key word: SIGNIFICANT) I believe the problem is primarily a result of carbon dioxide gas and deforestization.
As far as I know, there haven't been any credible direct correlations made between anything happening on the sun and the increase in temperature. The hypotheses I've seen on the subject are not strongly supported ... especially so when results are compared to carbon dioxide and deforestization data.
I went to the library to research a variety of global warming charts from past to present. It shows that global warming's impact factor was very minimal until the 40s era. In the 1940s to the 1950s it increased and then slowly decreased to which it remained low until the present. Today it is the highest it has ever been. What are your thoughts on this?
Well, I think your numbers are a little off. Global warming was minimal until the 1940's and then had a sharp increase until around 1945. I believe much of that can be contributed to natural cycles on the earth and perhaps a bit of industrialization. In 1945, the temperature dropped significantly and but then it began a slow climb upwards. In the early 80's the temperature passed that of the 1945 maximum temperature and has continued to climb since then. The scary part is that over the past 20 years, the increase in temperature appears to be exponential.
And I can't remember which year right off hand - but basically, all but one of the years in the past 20 years have been the highest global temperature on record. Every year, we seem to set a new record. Right has been predicted to be the warmest ever.
Another interesting piece of information that is often over looked is that the temperature increase slowed a bit when chloro floro hydrocarbons (CFC's) were banned. The chlorine in these products was destroying our ozone layer ... which protects the planet from the sun. Studies have shown that banning CFC's did have a positive impact on the ozone layer and did have a small affect on the global temperature (it slowed the increase a bit).
Unfortunately, CFC's were not the only problem. I feel that if we'd attacked the carbon dioxide problem around the same time, this problem wouldn't be as messy as it has become. However, carbon dioxide emission continued to increase and ... here we are with record high amounts of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere and record high global temperatures.
Since global warming is such an extreme issue and so current to boot, is it strongly a threat to our world?
Current - you know I can recall people talking about global warming from as far back as the early 1970's. These were predictions they were making. They weren't talking loud and they were talking about a future that seemed so far away (the year 2000 seemed impossible at the time) but truly, this is not a current problem. It's a chronic problem that is becoming acute.
I believe that the two biggest threats we face in our world right now are global warming and freshwater. Not surprisingly, these two threats go hand in hand. As we see the temperature rise, we also see our freshwater supplies dwindling ... and we hear people saying that water is a "regional" issue that only affects small regions. They don't think of a future time when people without water start trying to move into areas that have water. If you think wars over oil are bad, wait till we start fighting for clean, freshwater ...
Besides our planet, does global warming effect our health or our state of well being? If so, how does global warming effect us?
See above! Water supplies are in trouble. Global warming also does strange things to weather patterns. One of the most visible things has been the increase in hurricanes but what many people aren't seeing is the lack of precipitation in areas that normally don't get it and flooding in areas that don't normally have it. This is bad. Precipitation in areas not use to it doesn't make it into our watersheds - and therefore not into our freshwater supplies.
Some of the other hidden problems have to do with changing environments. Parts of the world that normally cool off more are seeing plants bloom at strange times of the year and they're seeing plant and animal species that never occurred in their areas before. And while that might seem like only a nuisance or maybe even kind of a neat thing to some people, it's really not a good thing. In fact, it can be a very, very bad thing.
Many animals have adapted to reproducing because at time when food will be available from plants that bloom at specific times of the year. If the plants bloom two weeks early and the chicks of a bird show up at the normal time - we've got a problem. Species can go extinct from things like that because they're not able to adapt quickly enough. Species moving into new areas are "invader" species. Scientists have long known that introducing species from outside an area can have a horrible impact on the eco-system.
It's been stated that global warming can be prevented or decreased dramatically by a variety of ways and means. How can we prevent global warming?
Well, basically, we're putting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than our planet can handle (emissions) and we're removing the earth's natural carbon dioxide filters (rain forests, forest ... anything green that grows). So we need to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we're putting into the atmosphere and stop cutting down the rain forests. (And right about now, I'm all for installing big refrigerator units at the north and south poles. If that ices goes ... we're in BIG trouble.)
What is one thing (or one important fact) you would like others to know about global warming?
There are two things I'd like people to know - One, it's real. Two, everyone can make a difference.