Physics and the Bible Both Suggest Natural Causes for Global Warming (Part 1)
by: Lisa J. Lehr
Global warming is one of the most contentious issues in the news today. Sadly, the facts on the subject are clouded by non-scientific issues. Conservatives/creationists often fear that accepting global warming as fact implies an acceptance of liberal/evolutionist/old earth doctrine. Scientific/intellectual types may feel that rejecting global warming is tantamount to being unscientific or, worse, religious. This partisanship need not be. The laws of physics are adequate to explain a naturally occurring global warming; Biblical commentary on nature supports it; together they can help us understand the role of humans in it.
What is global warming, and how does it happen?
Global warming refers to an increase in the Earths average temperatures. It is largely attributed to the greenhouse effect, an easily observable scientific phenomenon whereby certain gases in the atmosphere trap energy from the sun. Infrared insolation (solar radiation) enters the atmosphere and is about 92% absorbed by greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, and water vapor. Thus, heat builds up in the earths atmosphere. (A greenhouse enables plants to grow even in cold weather because glass performs this same trapping.) The greenhouse effect, by itself, is not a bad thing; in fact, it is necessary for life. Otherwise the planet would be too cold.
The greenhouse effect is not the only probable cause of global warming. Another might be changes in the suns radiusa normal part of a stars life cycle. But the greenhouse effect has received most of the press because it is perceived as something humans can control.
Scientists have supposedly documented rising temperatures in the earths atmosphere, with corresponding increases in ocean temperatures, shrinking of ice masses, rises in ocean water levels, and loss of existing shoreline areas. The principle at work here is that as water warms, it expands.
(Predictions of massive flooding due to melting of polar ice are a good example of junk science. According to the Archimedes Principle, the buoyant force on an object wholly or partially immersed in fluid is equal to the weight of the fluid displaced. Ice is about 93% of the density of water; 7% of floating ice rises above the level of the water in which it floats. Applying this to polar ice, the ice would, upon melting, occupy exactly the same amount of space in the water as it did when it was ice.)
Logically following the question of whether global warming is real or not is what causes global warming, and this is where all the environmental, political, and economic complications enter the picture. All living things contain carbon; any organic matter (wood, coal, fossil fuels), when burned, produces carbon dioxide. Global warming proponents say that our use of fossil fuels, beginning with the Industrial Revolution, is overwhelmingly to blame, with carbon emissions leading to a greenhouse effect.
Some evidence indicates that changes in atmospheric CO2 followed changes in air temperature. Note that followed suggests a complete reversal of accepted cause-and-effect. The current rate of rise of sea level might actually be related to warm weather conditions of several thousand years ago. This time frame is noteworthy, because an event that happened thousands of years ago takes us right back to Old Testament timesCreation, or perhaps the Flood.
Evidence of global warming
Many examples of global warming have been reported recently.
George Washington hauled cannons across the Hudson River (two and a quarter centuries ago). Now the Hudson doesnt freeze.
Glaciers in the Alps are retreating. The area of Glacier National Park in Montana has shrunk by about 10% in the past decade. Some people who live within the Arctic Circle report that they used to be able to see ice floes from where they live, but no longer can.
The ice cap of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is melting at a rate such that it has shrunk by one third in the last 20 years, and may be entirely gone within the next 20 years. Other equatorial glaciers in Africa and in Peru are retreating as well.
Three small, uninhabited islands in the South Pacific disappeared under the rising sea in 1999. In 1998, a chunk of ice the size of Connecticut broke off of the Antarctic shelf.
Ocean surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific have risen two to three percent, resulting in a 70% decline in zooplankton populations, in turn threatening the survival of many fish and seabirds.
Half of the last 20 years have set high-temperature records. Both the hottest single year and the hottest five-year period on record have occurred in the last decade.
The Laws of Thermodynamics
Thermodynamics is the study of the transformations that occur between heat and mechanical energy. The growth of this new science, in the mid-19th century, was stimulated, in part, by the Industrial Revolution. Scientists and engineers were eager to maximize the efficiency of new inventions such as the steam engine.
The principle of the conservation of energy is known as the First Law of Thermodynamics. In simple terms, the total energy in an isolated system is constant.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics, stated simply, is that it is impossible to convert heat energy entirely to work (some of it is lost).
Expressed another way, the two laws are: first, you cant win; second, you cant break even. As an example, consider how your refrigerator works. It cools the contents, but where does the heat go? Into your kitchen, so that the refrigerator must work harder to keep its contents cold.
How Thermodynamics relates to global warming is this: as living and non-living things go through their life cycles, and eventually into a state of decay, there is a dissipation of energy in the form of heat. Not all of that heat can be recycled into the system (the earth and everything on it). Hence, global warming.
Please continue to Part 2
About The Author
Lisa J. Lehr is a freelance writer with a specialty in business and marketing communications. She holds a biology degree and has worked in a variety of fields, including the pharmaceutical industry and teaching, and has a particular interest in science as well as conservative social issues. She is also a graduate of American Writers and Artists Institute (AWAI), Americas leading course on copywriting. Contact Lisa J. Lehr Copywriting www.ljlcopywriting.com, Lisa@ljlcopywriting.com for help with your business writing needs.
This article ©Lisa J. Lehr 2005.
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