Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Climate-Change Revisited: Thought-Experiment (20 Nov. 2012)

            I've got a thought-experiment for you: "Let's pretend" for grownups.

            Let's pretend our sun is moving into a cycle of greater output of energy trivial for the sun, but important on Earth since we get a period of warming, what looks to be a long period. And the question would be what humans could do to moderate the effects of this sun-caused climate change.

            Some astronomer might note the "greenhouse effect" on our neighbor Venus, whose surface is very hot not just from Venus's nearness to the sun but also from its (mostly) carbon dioxide atmosphere, which efficiently traps heat.

            One thing we might try to slow down the heating of the Earth would be to reduce the carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere.
            One way we could do that is to do some things we should do anyway to reduce our use of fossil fuels and leave some oil, coal, and natural gas for future generations, along with an infrastructure that runs well and fairly directly on what in human terms is the virtually unlimited power of the sun. We could leave a legacy of power from wind, water, geothermal sources, and focused sunlight, photovoltaic cells — etc.

            Got it?

            As a practical matter, for policy decisions, it's not crucial what the source is of long-term climate change, including the source of net global warming. If net global warming is occurring, we can help cool the planet by reducing carbon emissions.

            So stop already with arguments that human-released greenhouse gasses don't cause climate change! Reducing greenhouse gasses can help reduce the risk, and we owe it to future generations not to gamble with their planet, and try.

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