Things I didn’t know about global warming

A couple of weeks ago I saw An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore’s global warming movie. A friend of mine passed on seeing it, saying “It’s not going to tell me anything I don’t know.”

I sort of felt the same way. Yes, yes, I thought, global warming is bad and we’re all going to die. But the thing is, after seeing it, I’ve realized that global warming IS bad. And we’re all. Going. To die.

The film is mainly Al Gore giving a PowerPoint presentation, which doesn’t sound thrilling, but the numbers and data he presents are staggering (absent from the presentation is the caution of the 2000 campaign speeches, replaced with a speaking presence and confidence noted by reviewers that makes me think of a viable comeback Gore ticket in 2008).

Drilling into arctic ice has allowed scientists to chart global temperatures and atmospheric CO2 concentrations back for 400,000+ years. First off, as CO2 levels rise, so does the average global temperature. Second, over thousands of years, there is a cyclical rise and fall of temperature, as the conservative global warming nay-sayers claim: but the current numbers are way beyond all that. Obviously, visibly off the charts.

If trends aren’t reversed, the difference between how hot it is outside now and average global temps in 100 years will be the difference between today and the last ice age.

So what? So it’s hotter . . . I live in Minneapolis, anyway.

Well, in the last 30 years the fourth-largest body of water in Africa, Lake Chad, has almost completely dried up — due to overtapping for human use and, you guessed it, climate change.

Warmer ocean temperatures fuel stronger tropical storms: the leap to link last year’s record-breaking hurricane season, including the overpowering disaster of Katrina, to global warming is a small one, made by many, including TIME magazine.

But maybe the scariest is the possibility of a sudden, dramatic climate change, a la The Day After Tomorrow. No, not in a day. But in as little as 5 – 10 years, Europe could be plunged into an new ice age: due to the influx of cold fresh water from melting ice in greenland pouring into the north atlantic, disrupting the gulf stream and global ocean heat transferring currents.

The complex, multitude of variables that affect global climate change are not fully understood, but it doesn’t take a climatologist to interpret three recent New York Times’ headlines:

Hundreds Evacuated in Chicago as Heat Wave Persists

NYC Officials Up Heat Death Toll to 20

In California, Heat Is Blamed for 100 Deaths

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