Climate Change

Since Al Gores documentary film An Inconvenient Truth, awareness on climate change has never been this big.  His discussions on how overconsumption of humankind brought danger to our planet, made people rethink and change their lifestyle just so to lessen emission of carbon dioxide.  Al Gore has made it clear from his film that rapid increase of carbon dioxide in the last 10 or 50 years increased Earths temperature, leading to global warming.  According to an article discussing the evidence of global warming on his website.

Carbon dioxide and other gases warm the surface of the planet naturally by trapping solar heat in the atmosphere. This is a good thing because it keeps our planet habitable. However, by burning fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil and clearning forests we have dramatically increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earths atmosphere and temperatures are rising.

Were already seeing changes. Glaciers are melting, plants and animals are being forced from their habitats, and the number of severe storms and droughts is increasing.

There is no doubt we can solve this problem. In fact, we have a moral obligation to do so. Small changes to your daily routine can add up to big differences in helping to stop global warming. The time to come together to solve this problem is now.

He advocates himself in influencing people to revolutionize their behavior- less usage of plastic bags, less driving, less consumption of electricity, less travel, and the list goes on.  He established the Alliance for Climate Protection, which is focused on a 300 million public-service campaign We, which encourages people to adjust their wasteful ways (Levitt and Dubner 170).

Having said all these, does changing our habits to achieve a zero-carbon dioxide lifestyle can really address global warming  This belief has actually been challenged by several scientists, who looked into global warming in a different perspective.  One of these scientists is Nathan Myhrvold, former chief technology officer at Microsoft.  He believes that the objective of the film an Inconvenient Truth was to scare the crap out of people (Levitt and Dubner 181).

He cited the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines, could enlighten the mystery on how to attack global warming.  How is this so Can a natural calamity provide answers into solving another natural or environmental issue

The eruption of Mt. Pinatubo was the strongest volcanic eruption in the last one hundred years.  It was said that within several hours from the explosion, sulfuric ash extended 22 miles into the sky, and released 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere (Levitt and Dubner, 176).

How did this affect the environment  The sulfur dioxide in the stratosphere worked as a layer of sunscreen, lessening the solar radiation touching the earth.  According to studies, the sulfur dioxide haze was settling in the next couple of years after the eruption and cooled off our planet by an average of almost 1 degree Fahrenheit, or 0.5 degrees Celsius.  This one time volcanic explosion briefly countered the collective global warming of the prior several hundred years (Levitt and Dubner 176).

Myhrvold, together with another scientist, Lowell Wood, saw this unfortunate event as an opportunity to study how else to address global warming aside from lessening emission of carbon dioxide.  According to Wood, the emphasis given on carbon dioxide is misplaced.  Carbon dioxide is not the major greenhouse gas, but water vapor.

The volcanic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo showed them the light.  Before this event, and even up to now, there is no accurate climate model that can be experimented on to prove that decreasing carbon dioxide can actually attack global warming.  To simplify, the opposite of global warming is to cool the earth.  Decreasing carbon dioxide will not add to the earths temperature, but it wont also cool it earth.  Carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, which has been there several hundred years ago, will still be there.  What we need is a global cooling effect to reverse global warming.  And the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo serves as a reliable and proven scientific climate model.

The proposal of Myrvold and Wood, with other respected climate scientists in the world including Ken Caldeira, to replicate the cooling effect brought about by sulfur dioxide from Mt. Pinatubo is truly compelling for me.  They are proposing to build and roll-out a mechanism- a garden hose to the sky or also known as stratospheric shield for climate stabilization (Levitt and Dubner, 193).

This hose will be hanging from a series of high-strength, helium-filled balloons fastened to the hose at 100 to 300 yard intervals.  Liquefied sulfur dioxide will be sent to the sky by a series of pumps.  Objective is to pump enough sulfur dioxide into the sky, enough to replicate the diffusion of sun rays, which was what happened during the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo.  Their proposal was simple, practical and way cheaper than the 300 million campaign of Al Gore just to increase awareness of the people on global warming.

A lot of criticisms were raised and attacked this proposal.  Radical as it may seem, I strongly believe in this garden hose to the sky project.  Sulfur dioxide effect on cooling the earth was already been done and proven.  The reliability, practical and realistic sense of this proposal is scientifically computed and the minds behind this project are really credible.

Lets face it it is a fact that changing our lifestyle is not only physically hard, but economically as well.  It is not a cheap step to achieve this.  It is also realistically challenging. Al Gore is not wrong in saying that carbon dioxide has contributed to global warming.  And if we are every bit of scared and affected by what was shown in the Inconvenient Truth, it is acceptable to say that addressing the carbon dioxide issue might just be too small of a step to attack the issue of global warming head on.  The project garden hose to the sky is a pretty strong and credible proposal.  We have nothing to lose on this.  Piloting this project in the most affected and sensitive to global warming areas, like the Northern and Southern Hemisphere can be a start.

Every experiment and projects have to be monitored and evaluated.  With the sophisticated technology available within our grasps, it will be easy to conclude the effectiveness or non-effectiveness of this project.


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