Rage Against Greenhouse Gas

Preface: WordPress’s word of the month for April 2022 is “Green”. Dark-green happens to be one of my favorite colors, yet I can’t think of anything I want to write specifically about the color. Earth Day was just a few days ago, so I’ll write about greenhouse gases..

***

Winter no longer happens during the months we’ve historically recognized as “winter”. When I was a child, autumn started alongside school, in late August. Winter arrived after Halloween and lasted until Groundhog Day. Basically, it was expected to be cold from November through February.

This expectation held true even in humid, Southeast Texas.

At least, that’s the way it was in the good old days. 

For the past decade, our winter weather has been expressed in frontal waves, and doesn’t have the staying power it once had. We get a few days of “winter” here and there in Texas. Sometimes, we get “winter” all at once in January or February, as has happened these past couple years[1].

This alarming pattern is seen in many of the Northern states as well. My family recently went north for a more traditional winter holiday, but was slightly disappointed by the lack of ice and snow.

What’s causing this to happen? 

I’m not an environmental expert, but the basic science we’ve been learning in school for decades has taught us these changes are caused by human activity. Our media, which may be sponsored by major businesses, spotlights natural sources of global warming gases such as: volcanic activity, subterranean gas, or gas trapped in ice. 

I tend to agree with the theory that human activity bears most of the blame for the changes happening to our planet, but who’s to say this isn’t part of a natural extinction cycle the earth goes through. For all we know the last ice age may have been caused by a long-dead civilization who tried to fix global warming. 

Alternate Theory:

For all we know, an intelligent species or ancient race of humans may have experienced the problems caused by greenhouse gasses and developed non-carbon producing technologies to help the planet heal. They may have captured CO2, methane, and other gasses to store in permafrost ice sheets. They may have thought storing those gases in ice that never melts was a sufficiently permanent fix, because, surely, nobody would make the global warming mistake again.

Perhaps that civilization’s efforts worked too well and caused the last ice age.

That civilization either died off or left the planet…

And then comes humanity, with no prior knowledge of what caused the ice age. Humanity was born burning resources and makes the same mistakes with carbon-emissions. Maybe we’re inadvertently releasing all the stored greenhouse gases as our modern pollution heats the planet and melts those ancient ice “warehouses”.

I pose this alternate theory to show it doesn’t matter who’s to blame for global warming.

It doesn’t matter if certain nations are more at fault than others.

It doesn’t matter which generation is more negligent.

It doesn’t matter how much money is spent redirecting blame.

What does matter is how we respond to the problem we’re faced with. Are we going to stick our heads in the dirt like a cartoonish depiction of an ostrich[2]? Or, will we stop burning gases and develop new energy solutions to fix the problem? 

Wind is a natural resource found pretty much everywhere on the planet. Large-scale wind energy is expensive when you factor in the cost of the unit, transporting parts, construction, and then regular maintenance over the years. However, small home turbines can be purchased as low as $150! Unfortunately, most of us don’t know how to connect the generator to a battery bank, much less the grid.

Solar is another resource available everywhere on earth[3], and photovoltaic solar panels don’t require complex maintenance like wind generators. But going solar is prohibitively expensive. Each large panel can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000. Add installation, and you may end up paying around $20,000!

I think solar is the way to go from a practical point of view. All that’s needed after installation is to keep the panels clean and clear of obstructions, and maybe replace a damaged unit over the years. It’s truly much easier to go solar and forget it.

If only we could develop better and cheaper solar technology to make it accessible to people of all incomes. If we can solve that problem, we may buy the planet enough time to recover. 

But won’t that ruin certain industries?  

No, it won’t. The mighty corporations we worship and get a pitiful allowance from will survive. Even the major oil companies will be just fine. Most oil and chemical manufacturers have a broad range of products they sell besides gas. They make additives and other materials which are used in everyday items like: cosmetics, lotions, soaps, household cleaners, plastics, some clothing materials, and much more[4].

The only people who’ll be ruined by such an economic shift are the cartels who extract the base-product, and the citizens of those oil-producing nations. The Middle East has been at war or angry at everyone else throughout human history anyways, so will we notice if there’s even more unrest in that region?

***

We may never agree about what’s causing global warming and casting blame is irrelevant. Greenhouse gases are heating the planet and melting the polar ice caps, and may be driving the extreme weather patterns we’re experiencing. What’s relevant is what we do to fix it.

Our species has repeatedly met the challenge of physical threats. So why is the threat of extinction not enough incentive to give up our addiction to wealth-at-any-cost? Someone needs to have an intervention with our leaders[5] and remove toxic industrial influences, so we can ween ourselves off “easy” money.

I fear our species doesn’t have the strength to go through that rehab program.


[1] Winter, all at once: Can you believe The Weather Channel started naming winter storms? We used to only have to worry about named hurricanes, but now they’re naming winter storms.

[2] Ostrich: According to a Zookeeper I overheard talking to a group of kids at the Houston Zoo, ostriches don’t bury their heads in the sand when scared. However, they will try to blend in by laying on the ground.

[3] World-wide Solar: You can count on light from the sun to be available everywhere on the planet except for the polar regions of the planet. Both the north and south polar regions experience months of darkness because of the Earth’s axial tilt.

[4] Petroleum Products: I once worked at a major oil company and learned what we sold and how it’s used in everyday things.

[5] Violence Disclaimer: I would like to remind my readers that I do not condone violence, criminality, or rising up and overthrowing your legitimate government.

Bridge

On the bridge of his cruise ship, the Captain glances out the windows. The ship is leaving port and part of departure protocol is to examine the hull to ensure the dock didn’t damage the ship. He grabs the bridge of his glasses to remove them and raises his pair of binoculars  and peers through them.

The first thing he sees through the lenses are a few old ladies playing Bridge on the deck. He shifts his gaze outward and examines the hull. He commands the Yeoman-Purser to record that he observed no damage to the ship from the dock.

The Captain lowers the binoculars and rubs the bridge of his nose to help alleviate the eye strain. He replaces them to sweep the area in front of his ship. He carefully examines a bridge his ship must sail under. He’d normally be looking for any sign of corrosion that could cause debris to fall as they pass. This time, he’s looking for something far more sinister… Protesters.

He recalled the last cruise and how one of his wealthier passengers had an accident while eating. Her bridges came loose while eating a jawbreaker and the dentures went down her windpipe. She had to be rushed to a local hospital to extract the foreign object from her esophagus.

The Captain had to bridge the conversation between the cruise-line’s legal department and the passenger’s family. He apologized for the inconvenience, but the ship cannot remain at the port while she recovers. They need to decide if all or part of the family will remain at port. The cruise line would be happy to assist them with finding lodging and passage back home.

Once they reached their destination, the bridge crew was surprised to see reporters and protesters were picketing the entrance to the port’s embarkation building. Apparently, the family was furious their vacation was ruined and posted on every social media platform about how the cruise line is marooning them in a foreign country.

After completing extra paperwork…

After performing the usual cruise checklists…

After conducting several interviews and pep-up meetings…

After 3 days at port, his ship is embarking on a new cruise.

The Captain snaps back to reality, and returns to the bridge of his ship. He feels a rush of shame for that brief distraction, and lowers the binoculars only to see the First Officer looking at him with concern. He was examining the bridge for the same hazard.

A knowing glance bridges their understanding of the situation. Speaking in unison, they both bark at the Communications Officer. They smile at each other and the Captain continues with his order to hail the port authority for confirmation that the bridge is clear of pedestrian traffic.

They stand on the bridge of the ship as it sails closer and closer to the bridge. The captain rubs the bridge of his nose before putting his glasses back on again. He’s about to order the engines to stop when the Port Authority radios back to guarantee the bridge is clear and being patrolled by local police.

The Captain tells the helms-woman, “steady as she goes.”

A relieved smile warms her face as she removes her hand from the lever controlling the ships speed. As she acknowledges his command, he walks to the front of the bridge and gazes out a window. The Captain looks down and sees his new passengers queue up to reenact the iconic “Titanic scene” at the bow of his ship.

He never tires of seeing this, and the innocent display refreshes him.

Smiling, he turns away and gazes at his bridge crew. He can see that all are glad to be leaving the last cruise behind. They are starting a new journey with fresh passengers who’re eager to be wowed at the ship’s exemplary service.