Everybody still with me so far? That's good!
Okay. Let's start off with the subject. It is "climate change." There are people who say it is man-made and we are going to bake ourselves to death like a potato or freeze like an Otter Pop. There are people who say climate change is a myth (my own belief is that global warming is the result of sunspot activity that happens every 17 years, and weather logs support this theory). Positions on this issue will call into question people's reputations. When I heard Bill Nye supported the idea of man-made climate change, I was disappointed in him, because I felt his evidence was oversimplified and I expected better of him. By way of contrast, Cecil Adams, author of The Straight Dope and World's Smartest Human, believes climate change is man-made, and him I'll believe. Through it all, people will find annecdotal evidence one way or the other, with both sides declaring, "The science is settled!"
...well, no. The science is not only still ongoing, but they just found a huge, HUGE piece of the puzzle. It changes the entire nature of the problem, including if there actually is anything humanity can do to control it.
Okay, you know how everyone says greenhouse gasses are responsible for climate change, right? Well, a group of researchers from Rutgers are saying that the circulations of the world's oceans is equally culpable.
Here's the dirt -- the Atlantic Ocean pulls in heat and carbon dioxide, then moves them through the deep ocean from north to south until it hits the Pacific Ocean, where it is released. Why doesn't the exchange happen at the ocean surface, why does it go halfway around the world? It does this because, 2.7 million years ago, there was a huge build-up of glaciers in the norther hemisphere and a huge drop in sea levels. Antarctic ice cut off the surface heat exchange and the currents forced it into deep water. Says Stella Woodard, lead author of the report and a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, "We argue that it was the establishment of the modern deep ocean circulation -- the ocean conveyor -- about 2.7 million years ago, and not a major change in carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere that triggered an expansion of the ice sheets in the northern hemisphere." The data they used comes from ocean sediment core samples between 2.5 million and 3.3 million years old.
So, what does this mean for the rest of us? Well, there has been a substantial increase in the amount of CO2 being released in the air in the last 200 years, more than any recent period in geological history. This is fact. This suggests that the CO2 is not coming from man, but from deep ocean currents that are shifting and releasing more after absorbing so much and not releasing it.
Which means, we might be screwed, and there might be nothing we can do about it.
Temperatures were elevated about 3 million years ago, at which time there was roughly the same amount of CO2 in the atmosphere as there is today and the temperature was 4 degrees Fahrenheit higher. The ocean conveyor that resulted cooled the Earth and created the climate we live in now.
Big changes are a-coming. And we're not going to get anywhere if we keep arguing with each other instead of learning what we can.