Why Global Warming Will Be Slow to Reverse

by blackspanielgallery

Global warming is a problem that merits our attention. And, fixing the problem will be a slow process, but understanding where we are is a first step.

Global warming is a serious problem, and we are often given ways we can help. Most of those methods involve reducing our contributions to the problem. Occasionally, something like planting a tree is mentioned, a far better activity for a growing tree reduces greenhouse gases.

Simply put, the main focus is on greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide. But the fact we reduce adding carbon dioxide does little for taking any carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Our main ally in reducing carbon dioxide is the trees. Yes, when there is more carbon dioxide the trees might flourish, and remove more carbon dioxide than they might otherwise, but it is not nearly enough.

So, even if we stop adding to the problem, the reversal will be slow. But, not adding to the problem is a necessary first step.

Greenhouse Gases: A Simple Analogy

To a Complex Problem

If the problem were simple, we might be encouraged with the passage of a cold front.  Why can we not say that if things were colder the damage is undone?  But things are not so simple.  And the damage is not so easily undone.


To make the problem understandable let me make a simple analogy.  Place a pot on a stove and bring it to a high temperature.  Once you take the pot from the stove there immediately is a start to cooling.  The pot will soon enough be back to room temperature.  So, when you decide to use the pot again it must start the heating process anew.  The history of the pot has nothing to do with the reheating.  That is how heating and cooling are known to us, so on a cold day it is natural to think the problem is over.


Now place mirrors around the pot and heat it again.  When it is removed from the stove it will release heat, but the infrared rays will reflect back.  The pot cannot cool as efficiently.  And any heat added which might not go into the pot can also be reflected, giving the pot another chance to absorb energy.


In global warming the high greenhouse gas content acts like the mirror in the above scenario.  So, even if the Earth cools temporarily the reheating caused by the heat trapping carbon dioxide will soon make reheating a repeat problem.


Climate Impact

A Major Volcano

If a major volcano were to erupt, and the eruption were to be directed upward, it could place enough dust in the upper atmosphere to temporarily cool the Earth.  And if the Earth were like the pot without mirrors above, the problem would be solved.  Such drastic cooling has happened in the past, and can remain for five or more years.  This might give us a chance to work on a reversal process, or there could be a complacency due to the temporary alieving of the problem.  Unfortunately, the greenhouse gases would quickly reheat the Earth.  In fact, a volcano can add significantly to the greenhouse gases.


Of course a reduction in temperature, even if brief, could allow recovery of the ice packs, and an increase in albedo, the reflectivity of the Earth.  Global warming acting to reducing the ice packs has reduced the Earth’s albedo, allowing more energy to be kept by the planet rather than being reflected back to space.  Yes, the problem is complex, and one thing cause another.


Greenhouse Gas Carbon Dioxide

Where Did the Carbon Come from?

There was a balance of carbon dioxide being absorbed and released in nature.  Without carbon dioxide we would be in a glacier age.  We need some, but not as much as we currently have.  Plants grow, and plants decay.  Nature had a nice balance going, so where did the extra carbon come from?


Petroleum is carbon rich, and has been out of the balance for years.  It has been trapped in the Earth, far below the surface.  Modern times have seen that carbon brought to the Earth’s surface and much of it has been added to the atmosphere.  This is unlikely to change, so somehow we have to find a way of helping the trees reduce carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and regain the balance. 


Being aware of things, and having an understanding of them is a first start, and I hope this is a step in that direction.

Images are our own Zazzle products, and allowed by the affiliate program.  The images used on the products are from WPClipart, and are in the public domain.  I believe the Earth image is fro NASA.


This article contains links to affiliate programs from some or all of Amazon, Zazzle, Viglink, and Ebay through Viglink, and Adsense advertising.  These must use cookies to allow for proper crediting.

Updated: 02/07/2017, blackspanielgallery
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blackspanielgallery on 02/08/2017

Frank, I tried to make it understandable to all, and this is what I came up with. I felt it could be used to explain things basically, while those knowledgeable in the area might be able to take away a method of explaining a complex topic to others. It is a difficult path to educate without writing down to others that we must take, for the reading audience is varied. I hope others find it valuable as well.

frankbeswick on 02/08/2017

Your pot metaphor is a valuable educational tool.

Besides trees, two more of small ones of which I hope to plant tomorrow,peat bogs are also a valuable carbon store, so they should be protected, as we are trying to do in Britain.

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