Stop Global Warming
Global warming is for real and it is scary. The U.S. is the worst offender, but the federal government is sticking its head in the sand. Other countries are acting. Don't wait for someone else to do something. Replace your SUV with a Honda Civic Hybrid, Toyota Prius, or a bicycle. Replace incandescent bulbs with compact florescents, insulate, turn down the thermostat, drive less. Insist that your local governments take action.
Over the last 450,000 years the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide and the global temperature have fluctuated in 140,000 year cycles. We are presently at a peak in that cycle (the 1X point plus 30%) and would normally expect CO2 to fall. There is a large time lag, so that if everyone were to stop burning all fossil fuel today, the effects of the last 200 years would still heat up the planet. Staying at the 1X [1800 AD] or 1X+30% point of the last 450,000 years is not an option. If we get our act together within the next 40 years, we might get off at a stabilized 2X in 2050. If we miss that, we will rapidly be hitting 3X , 4X , ... People have never been through this situation, but the planet has when the dinosaurs went extinct. The current average summer temperature in Washington DC is 85 F; 2X is 95F; 4X is 110F. When summer temperatures get hotter, people run more air conditioning, which requires more coal burning, which produces more CO2, which makes the summers hotter.
In the Pacific Northwest, we will be getting more rain in fall, winter and spring [grayer skies] and drier summers. In the winter, the mountains will get less snow and more rain. This reduces the amount of water in the rivers for salmon, hydroelectric power, and irrigation, while increasing flooding. At present, Seattle does not need air conditioning, but that could change. Now would be a good time to plant deciduous shade trees on the south and west sides of your house.
There is a chance that global warming will disrupt ocean currents. If Europe loses it's warm Atlantic current, it will become significantly colder and may be unable to grow enough food. Longer growing seasons are mostly good for US agriculture, except that lack of frosts will mean that more insect pests can survive all year long. We can expect mosquito-borne tropical diseases at home. The ocean levels are rising. We can expect that large parts of Bangladesh, Pacific Islands, Hoquiam, Aberdeen, Olympia, and Everett will be underwater.
Last update: Oct 7 2008