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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Global Warming

Woah - tackling bigger issues now. It didn't even occur to me that the recent San Diego wildfire has anything to do with global warming until that Japanese reporter suggested to me that possibility. According to some sources, it seems that the frequency of wildfires has been rising in the last decades. Like the 2003 wildfire, some human culprits have been responsible for starting some of the fires. So one can argue that the number of fires have increased because there are more and more sickos who have nothing better to do than to burn down civilizations. Hmm, if you think about it, it makes sense - when it gets too hot, people can do stupid things.

So, how much has the temperature increase? Well, one degree Fahrenheit in the past century. When you consider that the difference in the average temperature between modern times and the last ice age was only about 9 degrees Fahrenheit, one degree is quite a lot. Where did all this heat come from? I think it comes from many sources. We live in a complex, delicate and dynamically changing ecosystem. What this means is that the balance of species - animals and plants, are intricately tied to each other. Just take a look at how certain species of animals and plants are now endangered or extinct due to human activities such as industrial development and pollution. I remember reading somewhere in one of the Scientific American magazines of a strange phenomenon where many 3-legged frogs were found. Roughly, I remember this was the explanation. Researchers discovered that farmers were disposing certain chemicals into the river which flowed into lakes/ponds. Certain types of snails thrived well in these waters. And these snails carry with them some kind of bacteria. The snails are preyed upon by the herons and they drop their pooh somewhere while flying. The pooh contains the bacteria which then wiggles its way into the baby tadpoles body and triggers some genetic change. As a result, a third leg forms.

So, you see, the ecosystem is very complex and delicate. You must have heard many times about the greenhouse effect and the depletion of the ozone layer. Many scientists now agree that human beings are primarily responsible for the change in the average global temperature. We burn forests to clear lands, we burn fuel to travel places, we burn fuel to power up our machineries and equipment. In the end, we suffer from all the pollution (smoke, CO2, dust etc.) - we get all kinds of respiratory ailments and we get hit by freak weathers (flash floods, wild fires etc.) and we are losing some of the important animal and plant species (herbal cures, anti-viral agents etc.). There is a natural balance in the greenhouse gases maintained by the animals, plants, the ocean etc. which is important to keep the temperature nice and warm for everyone to live in. Industrial activities by human beings, however, introduce more carbon dioxide gas and trap more heat in the atmosphere.

To read more about global warming, you can go to here.

We didn't start the fire - Billy Joel