The Global Warming Challenge (Part 1)

You are invited to think! (Sorry, there are no pretty photographs)

The people I have encountered here in the blogosphere appear to be intelligent, thoughtful, well-spoken individuals. Therefore, I am inviting you to give some thought to issues that I feel are important to all of us—or otherwise straighten out my thinking (but you will have to very persuasive). Also, many of you seem to like to respond to challenges. So here goes!

First, I am somewhat confused. Based on recent news reports, apparently the debate on global warming is whether it is a political issue or a moral issue. To me, these are philosophical turf wars over what is in the realm of physical or earth science.

I have a close friend—more intelligent than I—who feels “global warming” is “much ado about nothing. After all,” he points out, “the earth has gone through repeated ice ages followed by warming trends. Global warming is just another natural climatic cycle.”

The problem is, although I do not fully accept our current changing climatic conditions as part of a “normal” climatic swing, it is hard to argue the point. Still, I tend to believe that we—that is humans—have had and are having a significant—negative—impact on the global environment, including the climatic temperature cycles. I think humans are a lot like beavers.

People vs. Beavers – Where Will We Go?

A family of beavers will move into an area along a stream and build a dam and their lodges. Industriously, they go to work. This dam forms a pond in which they can build a lodge. In the process of dam and lodge building, they cut down many trees. This opens up a clearing. The pond draws other wildlife, and a whole functioning community is established.

After a while, however, the beavers have harvested all of the suitable trees in the area, and can no longer efficiently maintain the dam. Having fully exploited the resources of area important to the beavers, they move on to a new location to repeat the building cycle. Meanwhile, the old dam gradually decays, the waters leave and after a few years, the forest gradually goes back to the pre-beaver days.

There have been tribes of humans that live in much the same way—it is often called “slash and burn.” A family or clan would move into a forested area, cut, use, or burn trees and farm the land. The area of land affected was that required to sustain the group. Slash-and-burn fields are abandoned when the soil and local resources are exhausted. The group moves on to a new area to repeat this process. Trees and shrubs in the abandoned area begin to reclaim the land and eventually reestablish the forest. After a few decades, a new clan discovers the area, clears it again, and the cycle is repeated.

This works in nature because the “vast” resources that exist are sufficient to allow clans of beavers and family groups of people to move from area to area, leaving the abandoned area to recover. In this way, the overall environment can sustain itself –while an area may become nutritionally exhausted, it is abandoned and given an opportunity to recover.

Modern “civilization” is not unlike a clan of beavers…except that after we have used up our “pond” we have nowhere to go.

The challenge: Express what you think on the topic of global warming–but you have to support your position. So, what do you think–or is it too much to think about?

To be continued….

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3 Responses to The Global Warming Challenge (Part 1)

  1. Leanne Cole says:

    Can I say your friend, I totally disagree, if over 90% of scientists around the world say we are causing it, then how are unqualified people in any position to disagree. Yes, the earth has gone through cycles, but always before they took hundreds of year, this is the first time ever that so many changes have happened in around 100 years, it is fast, and too fast. I believe what the people who have studied for years and years are saying. If you ask me the people who won’t accept it, or believe we aren’t the cause, it is because they don’t want to change the way they live.

  2. merlinjr01 says:

    Leanne, I think you and I are in agreement. And I do appreciate your comment. Thank you.

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