Part of a special edition series by and with writer-partners of Silicon Valley Author Ann Bridges.
By Michael Lund
Never in the history of the human race have the words “climate change” invoked so much fear, hysteria and sometimes downright comical assertions. When a politician claims we will be extinct in 12 years, one has to ask the obvious – “your scientific credentials are?” What started out as “Global Warming” (which became too limiting for the self-appointed messiahs of doom and gloom), morphed itself into the catch-all “Climate Change” so we can include natural events like hurricanes, tornadoes, monsoons, blizzards, floods, heat waves, cold snaps, even plagues of locusts, then blame it on the US.
First off, let us be clear. Climate change is real and does affect this planet. Humans can have an impact. However, we need to step back and put things in their proper context to understand the world around us. Humans are NOT the sole cause of climate change.
This place we call home – planet earth, has undergone multiple and radical climate change millions of years before man began to walk upright. The most recent radical transformation began two million-plus years ago at the beginning of the Pleistocene epoch. Massive ice sheets – glaciers if you will, once covered the Northern Hemispheres including parts of South America. About 100,000 years ago the ice began to retreat. The Great Lakes were created and oceans began to rise. But what caused this prolonged warming trend which I believe is still ongoing to this day? Certainly not humans, who at the time were nomadic hunter-gatherers.
I’ll leave the long-term question to respected scientists to answer while I point out some rudimentary lessons I learned in high school – things that seem to be lacking in our educational system today. When a college graduate tells you carbon dioxide (CO2) is the cause for global warming but cannot answer the question – “what consumes carbon dioxide,” we’re in trouble.
The air we breathe is mostly made up of nitrogen (about 78%) followed by oxygen (around 20%) then carbon dioxide (less than 1%). When we exhale, our cells have metabolized the components that make up what we inhaled. We actually give back more than 100-fold of CO2 than we take in. The average person will exhale around 800 pounds of CO2 per year. Given that the world’s population is growing exponentially – over 7 billion in 2019 compared to around a billion in 1800 and projected to be around 9 billion by 2050, you can do the math. That’s a lot of hot air. I’m tempted to say politicians produce twice as much as the average person but I digress.
Before one scoffs at the above, thinking that I’ve implied breathing results in global warming, the clue lies in the number of humans on the planet. In addition to breathing in order to survive, we must eat. Food production for that many people requires fuel; for developing counties, that means burning wood. One of the marvels of evolution on our planet is the symbiotic relationship of mutualism. Plants consume CO2 in order to survive. They in return give off oxygen which we need to survive. Take away the former and the later is in deep trouble.
Yes, CO2 emissions from industrialization can exacerbate atmospheric conditions but I’ve yet to hear alarm bells over deforestation. National Geographic estimates that 18% of our land mass is covered by forests. It is estimated that 18 million acres of forest and jungles are obliterated each year – either for fuel or clearing land to grow food. Upwards of 20% of the Amazon rain forest is now gone – 3,000 square miles were cleared in one year alone. Worldwide, we likely remove up to 7 billion trees per year. Planet earth’s CO2 filter is being decimated and there is scarcely a peep out of the self-anointed “experts.” Some believe climate change can be manipulated by nuking an entire economic system that keeps millions upon millions of people employed worldwide rather than address the elephant in the room – how do you feed a burgeoning population without destroying forests and jungles?