Before humans knew how to create smog; volcanoes and cows had the job. Earth’s climate has always been in a state of flux, and the environmental systems on the planet always had a way to keep it in balance. I believe it is called homeostasis, which is Latin for “Al Gore hates sunny weather”.
Problem is, when you add humans and technology to the equation, the Earth has trouble keeping up. I know… theoretically, right? But let’s consider this:
a) If Scientists are right, and the Earth is warming faster due to our impact, then it makes sense to fix it.
b) But if the GOP is right, and it’s just a natural warming cycle, then doesn’t it still make sense to moderate the cycle?
I mean, what’s the harm? Sure, there are costs to businesses, but the beautiful thing about economies is that they adapt – and much, much faster than the planet. Not convinced? Think about this:
New environmental rules would create new problems, which require new solutions, and therefore would actually create new businesses to solve them. That’s jobs people. J-o-b-s.
Perhaps we could incentivize stubborn corporations into having an “adapt or die” mentality, rather than their current “I’m dying, so I’m taking my customers and the market down with me” policies?
But that’s a topic for another article, and enough of the political mumbo jumbo for now. Let’s get to the task at hand. Regardless of why Earth is warming (or when it will cool next), what if we could make Earth’s Climate Cycle manually operated?
To start with the solution, we need to look at how the Earth regulates it’s temperature in the absence of excess CO2 production, from a very simplistic point of view (or, how it was explained to me in college).
Without volcanoes, cows, and cars (I know, there are more factors, but let’s stay simple), the Earth would still have warming and cooling trends. These cycles would probably just be more predictable. But here’s the overview – starting from our current point in the cycle; if all people, cows, and volcanoes were shipped to Mars (to start terraforming).
The Atlantic Ocean tends to be warmer than the Pacific. Look at the map. It’s smaller, has more impediments to circulation, and touches less ice. In particular, look at the North Atlantic, and see those red arrows – the warmer it gets, the more ice it melts; and the less ice there is to melt, the warmer it gets. That builds and builds (obviously gaining in speed) until there’s no more ice in the North Atlantic to melt, and sea levels rise because that ice is now water.
That’s Global Warming in action.
Now look at Panama. It’s that tiny point of land between the top of South America and the bottom of Central America. When global sea levels rise, that goes underwater. At that point, cooler water from the (higher) Pacific overflows into the (lower) Atlantic, cooling it, allowing for ice to reform; and fairly quickly from a geological standpoint.
Once this trend starts, we’re heading into an ice age.
Ice forms, lowering sea levels, Panama pops back up, and the Atlantic begins warming again. And then eventually we’re back to where we are now.
Like a said, very simplistic. There are a lot of other factors, but nonetheless the cycle is still naturally occurring in spite of human involvement. Our impact just makes it more unpredictable.
So how do we control it? (Or in other words, how fast can I convince you that I’m crazy?)
Right now they’re widening the Panama Canal. Wider canal = more ships = more money. Well since you’re there… why not widen it further? Let’s turn Panama into a global thermostat! (There’s the crazy)
Sure, it’s outlandish, and the effort would cost billions, but it could be a global effort. The entire planet gains after all. Especially the US., because you could practically eliminate hurricane season, and maybe even tornado season to a degree.
Panama wouldn’t want this. But the alternative, without a better solution, is for them to start building floating homes, and handing out scuba gear to visit the rain forests in a few hundred years.
So here’s how it would work: Scientists team with politicians and corporations to determine the best global average temperature. The one that balances agricultural production, with natural disasters, with pollution, and ecology. It would take years for these guys to agree on something so monumental, so you put them to work while you’re still building out the Panama Thermostat.
Once it is agreed upon, the Scientists then annually determine how much temperature change it would take to counteract the effects of external factors like volcano eruptions, solar cycles, population growth influences, urban sprawl, cow farts, etc. Because ecology is slow, there’s room for error. Point is, you’re having a positive impact regardless of accuracy.
Using that target temperature difference, the current temperatures of each ocean, and the flow rate of the Panama Thermostat, these Scientists determine how long we need to open the thermostat (if at all). Then you keep the ships hundreds of miles off shore for a period of time, and open it up!
The initial adjustments would probably take awhile, maybe a month or two at a time over 10′s of years to slowly get the climate to where you want it, and to reverse our current warming trend. But subsequent adjustments should be small; again due to how slow the planet’s natural climate change happens.
But do the adjustments in early Spring! Why? Because you’re going to cool the Gulf. Cooling the Gulf means less warm air flowing north, colliding with a Jet Stream that is still bringing cold air down from Alaska and Canada, causing tornadoes.
And if the Gulf cooling is done by June/July, most hurricanes forming off the West coast of Africa will likely die out in the mid-Atlantic, or at least wind down to Category 1′s and 2′s by the time they hit land.
So there it is, a super simplistic solution to global warming that would never be done.
I can’t disagree with all the reasons it shouldn’t happen either. Displacing Panamanians from their homes, and changing the ecosystem of the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico are not positive results. I say changing, and not killing, because even though you might eliminate some species, or force them to relocate, others would take their place. Life would still flourish.
And then there’s all the reasons it couldn’t happen too. Mainly politics. In the US, if the “left” presented the plan, the right would fight it. If the “right” presented it, the left would fight it. The US two-party system is more like a sibling rivalry that hasn’t yet been taught the Mom-trick “one of you pours two glasses of soda, and the other chooses their glass first.”
Plus globally, some countries would immediately benefit financially from the Panama Thermostat, while others would have to adapt their principle source of GDP to the selected climate (but hopefully only once).
And as hinted at earlier; people and businesses view changing the way they make money as being only an incrementally better option than giving up completely. So they’d prefer to avoid both, and instead choose to move forward on their current path stubbornly until the outcome is determined by a combination of their ethics and the urgency.