There are a lot of aspects of this question that can be ignored for the purposes of this blog. The fact that the first sign of global warming would be expansion of the atmosphere is, however, significant. As I explained to school mates in 1978, global warming doesn’t mean that you’ll be warmer all the time. In fact, it immediately leads to more chaotic weather with greater extremes of temperature fluctuation and larger and more powerful storms. The third thing that will happen if you have global warming is that the ice covering the poles will begin to melt, dropping the planet’s albedo, and thus causing an acceleration of global warming. As this occurs, material trapped in and under the ice for hundreds of thousands of years, and in some cases millions, will begin to rot, releasing methane and CO2, further accelerating global warming. At the same time, diseases (bacteria, viruses, etc.) that are, once again, up to millions of years old, will be released from the ice and begin to adapt to the life forms that have no reason to have resistance or immunity to them which now live all over the planet. I will not debate these, but will rather focus on the one undeniable truth.
Hot air expands.
Many years ago, the United States put up a space station outside of the Earth’s atmosphere, called Skylab. Skylab was in a stable orbit. Those of you who have the good fortune of being old enough and actually having a memory will recall that we sent many missions to Skylab and ran experiments similar to the ones being run by the International Space Station today.
Those of you who are old enough and have a memory will also recall that Skylab came down and hit Australia. Hopefully, you’re saying to yourself at this point, “Wait, you said Skylab was in a stable orbit outside the atmosphere? Shouldn’t that mean that it would stay up forever?” Yes, and in a beautiful example of an extension of Newton’s Laws of Motion, it could not possibly hit the Earth unless acted upon by an outside force. “Well, what was that outside force?” you may ask. The answer is both puzzling and enlightening. That outside force was called “air drag.”
Wait, how can you have air drag if it’s outside the atmosphere? The answer is simple. The atmosphere of the Earth expanded to the point where Skylab was orbiting. The only ways that could happen is if we acquired more atmosphere, which we didn’t, or if the average temperature of the Earth went up, which it did, by three degrees Fahrenheit.
In the early 1980s, we were due to go into one of the mini ice ages, and in fact had the type of situation occur which usually triggers the beginning of an ice age. First, Mount Saint Helen’s blew, and then there were several other large volcanic eruptions around the Ring of Fire. (The Ring of Fire is the most volcanically active area on the Earth, which forms a large circle around the Pacific Ocean on major tectonic plate lines.) If that had not happened, the unstable weather changes we have been seeing in the 2000s would have happened in the 1980s and 1990s. This bought us some time. Unfortunately, we are not utilizing that time in a productive manner. In this case, denial is the kind of action which leads to extinction.
Man has been very good at surviving by the skin of his teeth. I at least hope that we will do this yet again. However, every day we wait to begin drastic action to reverse this process raises the price tag for fixing it by about a million dollars. It will also mean that everyone’s lives will be considerably more difficult while we try to fix it, and that means everyone—rich or poor.
Now, you may say that this MIR-ly one example, but I would call your attention to the Russian space station, Mir, which was up between 1986 and 2001. Mir had to be boosted into a higher orbit every year, and eventually was brought down by air drag. That could only happen if the atmosphere was expanding. Yes, by that time its orbit was affected by an expanding atmosphere every single year.
These are facts that you cannot deny. You also cannot deny the fact that companies which are the main cause of global warming in order to save a penny per ton on items they manufacture, and then finagle their way out of paying any taxes are going to expect you to foot the bill.
That’s right. I said that global warming is going to cost you money, make you work harder, and lower your standard of living. If you don’t want that to happen, then you better do something about it right now.