A question without an answer
Global warming: part 1


The following essay was produced as part of my 2013 effort for the November National Novel Writing Month effort. As such, please understand that while I did give it a quick review, it has not gone through the same proofreading and editing I normally try to give all of the material posted on this site.

I always make some mistakes. There are errors to be found throughout this web site, and many exist despite dozens of attempts to correct problems. That said, ask that you approach this material in the spirit intended – a basic thought, slightly worked out and very informally researched, delivered in the hopes of writing more than 50,000 words by the end of November.

Thank you.

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This essay promises to be two things… disorganized and long.

And for that, I apologize.

The thing is, I heard something last night, and I don’t know where to take it, though I have fourteen thousand thoughts colliding in an attempt to form some realistic and appropriate response.

I don’t have a beginning… a middle… or even an end. I don’t have time or research, or design a map for myself to get from one point to the next.

Originally, I intended to break it up into three columns. That’s the reason for referring to this as part one… and, subsequently, the reason I’m not really revealing what it was that I heard.

Hopefully the end result comes together and works. We shall see. Let’s get started…

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I don’t believe the global warming hype.

Ok… ok… settle down. This is going to be a long ride. Stick with me and at least give me a chance to explain.

I did not say I don’t believe in global warming. And I most certainly didn’t say that we don’t need to treat the planet better.

What I said is that I don’t believe the hype. And that is significantly… albeit in many ways just marginally… different.

Ok… tossing some mud against the side of the barn… let’s see what sticks.

Item number one: The Dodo and The Polar Bear

One of my favorite books of all time is Last Chance to See by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine.

(Find this book and read it. It’s brilliant. Also, Douglas passed away in 2001. A few years ago… as a twentieth anniversary kind of effort… Stephen Fry joined up with Mark to make a television series that revisited some of the animals from the first book, along with a couple of new adventures. The show is phenomenal and I highly recommend it. If you do find either the book or the show, it will quite likely change your life and increase your appreciation for the planet. I promise you… amazing stuff.)

I’m not sure if I’ve ever shared my theory about man and his place in the world. Here it is -- I would like to think that, in some way, the planet is a better place because I’m around. I would hate to find that it’s worse because of me.

I don’t need to hear about polar bears to know that man treats this planet horrendously. All I need to do is walk along the streets near my home, take a look at the ground, and see all of the trash scattered about.

I do appreciate climate change and global warming and increasing dangers do exist. I recognize that things are getting worse, and the efforts of man are beyond significantly contributing to these issues.

But here’s the thing… quite often, I’m scared by the people that say we must act now, and so very often rush in without thought or understanding.

If you read (or watch) Last Chance to See, you will experience an incredible and eye-opening journey to the far reaches of Earth. These efforts make you care about your place in the larger picture. It’s a truly magical journey.

Unfortunately, when people start presenting numbers and graphs and slideshows, quite often I don’t get the feeling that they understand the whole. Maybe the best explanation is that I seem to get the sense that they feel the urgency to do something, but often don’t appreciate the realities of what they are proposing to do.

It’s a sky is falling mentality of sorts, and the problem is that the do-gooders believe they have a good idea, but don’t know have the slightest consideration of what the repercussions of their idea might be. As an example…

In 1972, two million tires… that’s 2,000,000 tires… two-comma-zero-zero-zero-comma-zero-zero-zero tires… were dumped in the waters about a mile away from Fort Lauderdale.

It was supposed to be one of the ultimate win-win scenarios. We get rid of those pesky tires that just aren’t that easy to get rid of, and the fish get a playground to enjoy.

Turns out… no… not so much.

The fish don’t like the tires. Not much has grown on or near them.

And, they were dumped with wires to hold them in place. The wires have broken… and tires are scattering about, often resulting in tires damaging reefs and rolling up on beaches.

It’s become an ultimate lose-lose, with honestly nothing good to be found except… maybe, if you stretch the idea a tremendous amount to look for anything at all even remotely positive… for the training provided to the people involved in the cleanup.

Funny thing though… almost universally, people still believe that the intentions of those that organized and carried out the tire dump project were good intentions. They simply didn’t have all the information… they didn’t know what the reaction would be to their actions. (And if they had, Goodyear likely wouldn’t have sent a blimp down to drop a tire in celebration.)

Help educate me. Show me how my actions are harming the environment and animal life, and I’m listening. I want to know how I can do better. I really do.

(Except with poison ivy. I hate poison ivy. We can all do without the poison ivy.)

When you present an article saying that it hasn’t been this warm in 2,000-years, without saying what caused those rising temperatures two millennia ago, all I can think about is the awful cars and horrendous factories that must have been causing the damage back then.

When articles explain the dinosaurs and other life from millions of years ago, it leads me to believe that nature will go on. Because it’s not a question of the animals facing extinction that is the real scary thorn in all of this… it’s the continued survival of man that is frightening.

I like polar bears. I think I’d kind of enjoy seeing a dodo. I was actually sad and a bit scared to learn about the fate of the Yangtze river dolphin (studied in Last Chance to See, and now if not truly extinct, it is believed that any remaining would not be able to revive the numbers of the species). I don’t like thinking of extinction on any level.

And I collect that trash near my driveway. I sort it and recycle it. I try to grow grass and plants without using massive amount of chemicals. I try to keep my area of the world clean and well-tended.

But that isn’t about global warming. That’s about responsibility. That’s about trying to leave things, if not better than they were before I arrived, at least as good while I’m here.

Item two: Cell Phones and Space Travel

Have you noticed the promise of everything being wireless lately?

How… howHOW can this be good for us?

There are now pads you can place something on to recharge the batteries.

Now… what I know of this, and I know very little, seems to refer to inductive charging. And the whole thing sounds really exciting, and, when you begin to consider things like pacemakers and other devices that could be built around wireless charging possibilities, it all sounds fascinating and potentially beneficial.

The thing is… have you noticed home much stuff we’re putting in the air?

When I was younger, we didn’t have keyless remotes to open our car doors… we didn’t have a wireless mouse in our home, or even a computer to use the mouse with.

It was basically portable radios, and that’s about it.

Now headsets for our music and video games can work without wires. Cell phones. The computer utilizes… oh geez… WiFi everything.

And you see what I mean. Everything seems to either have wireless capabilities, or, someone is working on making it wireless.

Is this another tires-in-the-ocean though? When you go in for an x-ray, they cover you up with all sorts of protection. When your router doesn’t provide a signal strong enough to get to the television in a different room, you work on finding the right range extender for that unseen signal floating around your home and, in essence, boost the power.

And yet… so they say… none of this is harmful.

At the risk of cutting this essay short, we need to move over toward Jurassic Park for a moment.

What upsets me about global warming is this…

John Hammond: I don’t think you're giving us our due credit. Our scientists have done things which nobody’s ever done before…
Dr. Ian Malcolm: Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.

I’m not certain if any of this has made much sense. I don’t know if it has truly expressed my feelings on certain subjects. All I can honestly hope is that it’s made you want to get a copy of Last Chance to See to read, or nudged you to look around so you can find the show to watch.

I’m going to head outside and pick up some trash… place some stuff in the recycling bins… and hug my dogs. Tomorrow I hope to marvel at the beauty of a gorgeous sun-filled morning. And later, perhaps another day, I will get to some parks, see the wonders we are surrounded by, and try to appreciate it all.

In the end, the planet is a very special and magical place. And I would like for it to be a better place because I’m around.

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com