Note DetailElwynn's position on climate change
1/9/2008 11:05:00 AM



Hi Ron.  You asked my position on climate change:
    The first thing to remember is that the climate
is changing, it always has, it always will (with or
without people on the earth).
    The second thing is temperature and
precipitation is not all there is to climate.
    Third is that people build houses largely to
give themselves a climate they like better.
    Fourth- We now use so much energy in making
things so we like them better that it does have a
world-wide impact.
     Two aspects of climate we have changed:   
1- The Ozone hole.   In nature there would be an
ozone hole every so often and it might last one or
two years.   But we released an un-natural gas
(Freon and things like it) that stays around for
100+ years and causes a long-term ozone hole.    We
realized this and most everyone went along with the
stop.
  2- The CO2 increase.   It would increase a bit
with a naturally warming planet, it has increased that amount, + it increases as we consume coal and
oil, faster than the earth creates them.   We are
almost 1/3rd of the way to doubling the CO2.   We
do not know what this will do to the earth.   Some
things good, some bad, perhaps, but it is still not
a good idea to change everything when we do not
understand the change we are causing.

 CO2 is one of the so called greenhouse gases.  It
does have some influence of the temperature near
the ground.  Back in the 1980s there were wild
ideas that it would heat the earth 15 to 50F if CO2
doubled.   Some good scientists showed that that
could not be.   The current ideas of 1-3C (or 2-5F)
degrees are reasonable.
  You hear of tipping point.   This is a real
concept.  If it gets so cold then nature will just
move us to a way colder level, if it gets so warm
nature will just move us to a much higher level. 
This was computed by some fine Russian scientists
about 1950 and no one can find anything wrong with
their science or math.  So we must treat it as a
real concern.
   We are 1/3rd of the way to the
Russian's tipping point.   The earth has been
there before without us and will go there again.
But it is not a good idea for us to cause it.
   Now the question will be can we really cause or
really stop climate change?
   My idea is that we can do just fine using more
wind energy, solar energy, biofuel, perhaps atomic
energy, without changing the CO2 climate of the
earth and it is a good idea to move that way if we
can. I am proud to see Iowa as a leader (if not the
world leader) in this correction of our high energy
demand path.
      There are some fine books that give 50 to 100
pages on each of the above.  Sorry there is not a 
5-page one.   Perhaps because it is so complex that
there are almost no climatologists being heard
about climate change (when I gave a talk for the
Union of Concerned Scientists, I looked at the
membership list.... in the climate change group
there are no climatologists).
       Wishing you a happy new year,
                  Elwynn




Iowa State University Extension

Contact:  extensionweb@iastate.edu