Sunday, October 14, 2007

More About Climate Change

As I promised (or warned, as the case may be) you, here is some rambling thought about climate change (CG) and anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

Since climate is locally defined, it would appear that climate change happens every day as a matter of course. Some days it is warm, some days it rains, some days it is cold, etc. Somewhere along the line we (not me, but somebody) decided that the region in question is global. Now on any given day somewhere on the globe it is hot, somewhere else it is raining, somewhere there might be a tropical storms. How then, can we define a global climate? We have seasons in most areas of the globe. We have long nights in the winter season and long days in the summer season.

When I was in high school I learned that carbon dioxide was a life-giving gas for plants. The plants, through a process called photosynthesis, return the favor by providing oxygen. As you may recall, photosynthesis is

The process in green plants and certain other organisms by which carbohydrates
are synthesized from carbon dioxide and water using light as an energy source.
Most forms of photosynthesis release oxygen as a byproduct.

As you may also recall, most animals (including humans) depend on this oxygen stuff and the carbohydrates in plants for life. So the deal seems simple
  • Plants take carbon dioxide and water and sunlight and release oxygen.
  • Animals breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide.

Using this simple scheme, plants and animals get along famously, each emitting what the other needs to breathe. Superb. What a clever arrangement. Almost like it was planned.

Now, however, carbon dioxide has become the nasty "greenhouse gas" that will result in the sea levels rising 20 or more feet next year (OK, I exaggerated a little). One other thing that happens is that salt water in the seas (lakes, rivers, etc) evaporates to become moisture in the air. Later it condenses and falls as rain. This is the water cycle. However, moisture in the air is another one of those "greenhouse" gases. And it is all man's fault.

Here's my question: If all the carbon dioxide generated by man (including that from breathing) results in less than one degree temperature rise in a century (assume for the moment this is true), would that not make for a longer growing season? And a longer growing season would mean more carbon dioxide being converted to oxygen. Would that not improve the overall quality of air? I'm just asking.