Understanding and Planning for the Future are Necessary

by S. Tom Bond on March 1, 2018

Both local and global planning are essential for our future

So what’s to become of us all?

Essay by S. Tom Bond, Resident Farmer, Lewis County, WV

Predicting the future is the stuff of dreams and certain kinds of religion. There are too many unforeseen factors for rational analysis, but rational analysis can point directions. This is an attempt to point out the most likely paths the future might take.

Global Warming — One of the most certain things going to happen if things continue as they are now, is temperature increase of the atmosphere due to presence of carbon dioxide, methane, and certain other gases. If it weren’t for the much greater heat capacity of the ocean and the solid surface of the earth, and the vast amount of frozen water in the north, both as sea ice and permafrost, it would be much higher now.

Slowly the heat gained by the atmosphere is dragging the ice, water and solid surface along with it. Spring is coming earlier, fall is lagging later, summer is warmer and winter colder. I feel the unconvinced squirming, especially at the winter bit, in view of the last two winters. They point to the US Northeast, apparently unaware of the temperature elsewhere in the world. As I frequently point out, the adjacent states of the US is only about 2% of the earth’s solid surface. It was warm and dry in the extreme West and South while the winter storms were going on in the North. Other parts of the world had hot weather and some others cold.

By this time anyone who reads should know the storms were due to the increasing instability of the Jet Streams, especially the Northern Jet stream, due to the decreased temperature difference between the polar region, which is warming about twice as fast, and the temperate region.

Melting Ice above sea level will cause the ocean level to rise. How much is an unsettled question, but in the range of 3 feet by 2100 seams reasonable. Although the present government hotly denies global warming, the military thinks about half its bases will be affected. Here is a good article with maps about the ones along the East and Gulf coasts of the continental US.

Melting permafrost is expected to allow huge quantities of carbon dioxide to form from the frozen organic matter it contains and to release trapped methane working it’s way up from the deep. New research continuously points out the situation is worse than thought. Leaking from Pennsylvania fracking wells is five times higher than oil and gas companies report, based on work of 16 peer- reviewed studies.

New research shows methane packs more warming power than previously thought because earlier research focused on the far infra-red, and the neat infra-red (near visible radiation) had been overlooked.

Still other recent research shows the 4000 to 6000 truckloads of materials has effects due to very fine particles emitted from diesel engines which were previously suspected, but not measured. These particles are only 0.1 micrion in size or less. A micron is 0.000004 inches. These are small clumps of molecules, and can slip through the pores of the bodies’ cells. These particles have been linked to asthma, lung cancer, and heart disease.

So, where are we humans living on the surface of the earth gong? That’s hard to say. Renewables continue to become cheaper, more efficient and more popular. Pew reports 89 percent of Americans support more solar panel farms and 83 favor wind turbine farms. Only 42 percent favor more fracking and even less, 41 percent favor more coal mines. About one half the new utility scale power came from renewables last year according to one source. Probably more is being added overseas in areas where power lines are rare.

In spite of efforts by cities and states, the federal government is trying to support conventional energy, for largely political reasons. Coal, oil and gas corporations have built up great reserves of favorable legislation and vast reserves of disposable money. They command the political scene, without regard for science or human welfare. More income as quick as possible is their goal.

One other factor about oil needs to kept in mind. War machines must have large amounts of oil. They can not be electrified, like transportation, industry, and residences. Any nation which plans to dominate its neighbors must have oil.

The human race is living in times described by the old Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.” More than that, these are very challenging times. We need a long range viewpoint including some amount of long range planning for our civilization!


See also: E360 interviews Paul Hawken on “One Hundred Solutions to the Climate Crisis”

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