The majority of scientists agree that global warming is real. It is bad for the earth, at least for the existing species on earth, because changes are happening too quickly for adaptation. Increased carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are the cause. Some species are moving father and farther up mountains, and some are migrating farther toward the poles, trying to escape the growing heat. They can only go so far. The oceans are expanding and rising as well. Some scientists say it is already too late.
Yet if human activity is causing global warming, as many believe, that means we have the ability to affect temperatures. Therefore, we have the power, or at least some power, to cool the earth, or at least to keep it from heating so fast. Here are some of the proposals to stop global warming:
Iron fertilizer for the ocean is one proposal. Phytoplankton use carbon dioxide in photosynthesis, sequestering the carbon and liberating its oxygen molecules in the process. John Martin, a California marine biologist, believed that the reason some regions of the oceans have little phytoplankton is lack of iron. He wanted to dump this metal in the barrens of the ocean and bring them carbon-removing, oxygen producing, plankton blooms. Experiments were done, and iron does fertilize the sea. The problem was that the growth was only temporary. Also, scientists are not sure what the consequences would be of such large-scale tampering.
Increased nuclear power use is another proposal. The production of power from the energy of atomic decay does not produce greenhouse gases. This is a power source widely used in many places. France, for example, seems to benefit from the liberal use of nuclear fuel. Security is one problem with this solution. Also, storage of the waste, which may remain deadly for millennia, is a practical and moral problem. Hydroelectricity and geothermal are cleaner power sources.
On Helium, it was suggested that we roof our parking lots and plant trees on top. This sounds beautiful. Plant rooftops as well! This would need government funding.
Government subsidy of energy-smart alternatives seems a solid idea. The government could build high-speed rail as well as ordinary rail lines, because they are so much more efficient than the airplanes that have to hold passengers and freight in the air while moving them. Bike paths are also a good investment, compared to cars. The government could also promote small efficient houses over large showy ones. Unfortunately, the U.S., and many other governments,
have cash-flow problems right now.
Population control in the developed countries fights global warming. On the average, Americans produce 22 tons of greenhouse carbon a year each. Fewer Americans would mean less carbon. Or, we could each learn to use much less energy.
A recession, dreadful as it is, is probably good for the earth. Fewer new housing developments tear up the land. People cut back on driving and lighting to save money. Some may even save and sell recyclables. It may be that people will retain their energy saving ways when the financial situation improves.
It is unlikely that the government or science will bail us out. Government has more pressing problems, and in a democracy it is hard to get people to agree what should be done. Science hands us partial solutions, like the compact florescent bulb, but its grand schemes can be frightening. Most likely, global warming has to be fought at an individual level.
We can work at home, carpool, or take public transit to work. This removes a huge burden from the atmosphere. In some areas, we can choose to buy green power from our utility company. It costs more, but that in itself discourages consumption. It is also possible to generate our own green power in some places. We can dry our clothes on clotheslines, and wash them in cold water, when practical.
We can caulk, insulate, and weatherstrip and we can get a roommate to reduce the amount of energy used per person at home. We can also dump the old frige, and get a much more efficient one. We can install compact florescent lights, and use more daylight and less artificial lighting. We can teach our children to conserve. The list goes on and on.
This is a large and growing problem. Science, and now government, are doing their parts. As citizens, we must each find small ways to fight global warming.