Understanding the Consequences of Global Warming

by blackspanielgallery

An understanding of the consequences of global warming requires we ask why. And we must break things down to simple terms.

Being told the consequences of global warming is not enough. It must be taken to the next level, understanding the consequences of global warming. Unless a person understands why something is so, it is just someone else’s word that is taken. Even if the other person is an expert, there are others who might refute what we are being told.

This idea is much more basic. When I was a student I would understand, and retain that understanding, when I could answer “why.” It is not a always simple question, and when I would get an answer from a professor such as the equations predict it, I would not be as comfort in the answer. We must get to basics, even with complex problems.

When explaining a topic, I often like to give an analogy one can easily see, which can be extrapolated to the concept at hand. So, I will offer a simple analogy at the end of each explanation.

What Questions Can We Understand Better?

In this article I will attempt to address three statements that are often presented as dire predictions of the consequences of global warming.  First, we are often told sea level will rise significantly.  Second, we are often told storms will be stronger and more frequent.  Finally, I will address the claim wildfires will become more prevalent.  I shall attempt to get basic, not expecting the readers to simply accept statements because someone who claims to be an authority says they are so.


Rising Sea Level

If global warming occurs, we are told sea level will rise as a result.  Where would the extra water come from?  Well, it is right here on Earth. 


The Earth has much water frozen as ice, including glaciers, but much more ice is as the polar caps.  Just as we can rise above sea level gradually as we travel on a highway, so the huge ice caps rise above sea level as we head across them.  If we were to melt all of the ice, it would spread out over the oceans.  This added liquid water would force the sea level to rise.  Simply put, if the oceans had more water, they would spill over.  And the ice on the Earth is significant enough in quantity to over-supply the oceans with water. 


The analogy is to add five-gallon tanks of water to an already full bathtub.  The water would spill out of its present boundaries, the rim of the tub.  So would the oceans spill out of their present boundaries, and the depth of the water would increase.

Storms Would Be Stronger and More Frequent

This statement is more difficult than the concept above, for everyone can comprehend the idea of overfilling a container. 


The atmosphere can hold water, and warmer air holds more water than dry colder air.  As the temperatures of the Earth rise, more water will evaporate into the air.  This is insignificant to abate a sea level rise, but highly significant in other ways.


When water evaporates, it becomes more energetic.  The molecules move faster.  So, we store more energy in the atmosphere.  The warmer the air, the more water it can hold, so the more energy it can have.  The energy comes from the higher temperatures, which do cool slightly with evaporation.  So some of the energy from higher temperature is changed into evaporating more water.


When a storm forms the air condenses the water.  Energy the water vapor held is given back off when the water once again becomes liquid.  This energy heats the air, since it no longer is needed to keep the water molecules moving in the vapor state.  Warmer air rises, and as a result the lower pressure and cooler temperatures aloft cause the air to have a capacity for even less water vapor.  So, more water vapor condenses, causing an even greater release of energy to make the air even lighter, so the process continues.


When liquid water freezes the molecules need even less energy, so the unneeded energy is also released.  This enhances the cloud building process.


Eventually, a storm can result.


So, a warmer Earth holds more water vapor in the atmosphere, which is the fuel for storms.  Instead of burning the fuel, as with an automobile, the heat engine called a storm is supplied with heat directly from the water vapor condensing into liquid water, and eventually from freezing liquid water into ice.


Making the relationship understandable, we simply must realize water vapor holds energy, which is released as heat to drive storms.  The higher the Earth temperatures rise, the more water vapor the atmosphere can hold, which in turn can drive more, and stronger storms.  It is a matter of having more fuel. 


As an analogy, suppose your automobile were to have a larger fuel tank, and the ability to burn fuel faster.  It could go on more trips and at greater speeds.  Well, a warmer Earth has a larger fuel tank, which can drive more storms at greater intensity than we now experience.


How Storms Form

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Warm air causes water to evaporate at a greater rate than cooler air can, which dries out the ground and things on the ground.  Fire burns more easily with dry fuel, while green wood is harder to ignite.  So, a warmer Earth is a drier Earth, making fires easier to burn. 


Why is this so?  Water does take some of the energy when it evaporates, so spraying most fires with water is a method for extinguishing them.  It also coats the surface with water, denying the fuel for the fire from oxygen.  Fires are actually chemical reactions whereby oxygen is used to produce compounds such a carbon dioxide.  Oxygen must get to the fuel for a fire to burn.


Dry fuel has less water to evaporate, and to shield oxygen from the material that is capable of burning.


As an analogy imagine trying to start a fire in a fireplace.  In one case use old, dry wood.  In the other case toss a bucket of water on the wood before bringing it to the fireplace.  Which will be easier, or even possible, to start burning?  While forests are not soaked, as the wood in the analogy, any water content reduces the efficiency of burning the wood. 




A raging wildfire can be a major disaster, costing lives and destroying homes. But fires in nature can help as well as harm, clearing forests of dead trees and allowing young pl...

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Land on Fire: The New Reality of Wildfire in the West

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In order to accept what we are being told we must ask the question “why’.  Answering that question gives meaning to what is being said, it is no longer just something we are being told.  And, simple analogies make answering that question easier.


Other Articles

We often hear that global warming can cause storms to become more violent, but it is easier to believe this if we know how. And, actually it is easy to understand.
Global warming, can have major impacts, but how and why? Discover the facts written so you do not have to be a scientist to understand what the concern is.

During the holiday season be responsible.  When hosting a gathering a great responsibility falls on you.  So be prepared in advance, and have a festive, safe party.


This article contains links to affiliate programs and Adsense advertising.  These must use cookies to allow for proper crediting. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

The introduction image is allowed by an affiliate program. It is our Zazzle product featuring a public domain NASA image.

Updated: 11/30/2019, blackspanielgallery
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blackspanielgallery on 12/03/2019

Warmer air holds more water vapor, which is their fuel. The problem with the oceans is they also hold heat, and down to a reasonable depth due to mixing, so it will take time to cool things down again if we find the solution. warm oceans heat the air above, and give the water necessary to enhance storms.

frankbeswick on 12/03/2019

Correct, Veronica. Storms are worsening in North West Britain. Hurricanes used to exhaust themselves before reaching Britain, but now they have more power and water content left.

Veronica on 12/03/2019

Here on the eastern side of the Atlantic ocean we suffer dreadfully in Autumn with storms coming over from the Americas. There seem to be a lot more of them than there were in the past. we think it is due to global warming.

blackspanielgallery on 12/02/2019

The action begins with understanding, not just hearing of a dire problem but having a genuine understanding of it. Politicians are often preoccupied with satisfying those who contribute to a campaign, but once an understanding is reached they will learn it is futile to gain political power if there is no one left to govern. In order to have citizens to rule over they will have to respond.

WriterArtist on 12/02/2019

No matter how much the environmentalist make hue and cry on global warming, the action is missing from the political power, governments and forestry. Earth is going to die when our Super Giant Star Sun dies. However; mankind is going to make the planet earth extinct sooner than believed with their alleged ignorance and carelessness.

blackspanielgallery on 11/30/2019

The problem is the air can hold more water vapor, so things tend to dry out more. The areas where wildfires occur will not see frequent storms, due to location. California has a coo water current offshore, that chills the air, preventing it from rising to make storms, and blocking mountains to the east which causes the poor air quality. In fact, in the northern hemisphere western areas at the latitude of California are arid, including the Sahara, This has to do with global wind circulation patterns.

DerdriuMarriner on 11/30/2019

blackspanielgallery, Thank you for the practicalities and products.
Is it that wildfires are seen as more forceful and frequent because the more forceful, more frequent storms will not be enough to soak the wood and stop combustion?

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