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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Turning Up the Heat on Greenhouse Gas

Turning Up the Heat on Greenhouse Gas

Climate Change. Global Warming. The Greenhouse Effect. Whatever you call it, the threat of rising global temperatures has been an issue of intense debate for decades. Despite a strong consensus among much of the scientific community, there remain many articulate and intelligent skeptics of the global warming theory in both the scientific and political arenas, as well as among the general public.

While the issue is generally framed as a political one, taking appropriate action shouldn’t be a matter of partisan debate. Regardless of whether climate change is driven by human activity, or simply part of the Earth’s natural cycle, the push for energy conservation is a rational and responsible one. For years, the United Nations-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has advocated for a reduction in the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.

Established in 1988, the IPCC has been working for more than 20 years to evaluate the risk of human-created climate change, based on the ongoing findings of scientists and institutions around the world. In 2007, the panel released its Fourth Assessment Report. The authors of the report warned that we could see an increase of about 0.36 degrees per decade over the next two decades, with even higher increases projected for later decades.

While that may sound like a modest rise in temperature, the net result could be intense, with average temperatures rising by as much as 11.5 degrees by the end of this century. If that happens, the effects on human health, water resources, agriculture and outdoor recreation would be immense. The following is a look at how increased temperatures would touch each of those areas.

Health
As temperatures rise, increases in threats to human health could result. Though cold-related injuries and illnesses would decline, cases of heat stress are expected to increase, particularly in large cities, which because of a higher concentration of greenhouse gas emissions, can even now be up to 10 degrees hotter than surrounding rural areas. Such extreme heat would be especially dangerous for children, the elderly, and those with heart conditions or asthma.

Higher temperatures could also contribute to air quality problems, including increases in ground-level ozone and air pollution, which can damage healthy lung tissue and worsen existing respiratory problems.

Some scientists predict the warming trend could result in more frequent extreme weather events, such as forest fires, droughts, flooding and tropical storms, which could also negatively impact public health.

Water Resources
The potential impacts of climate change on the water supply are hard for scientists to predict, but very few of the educated guesses on the issue offer good news.

Whether higher temperatures would result in less rainfall or more is a matter of debate among scientists, and would likely vary by region, but either scenario could result in increased water pollution. In areas with reduced rainfall, stream and lake levels would fall, resulting in less dilution of existing pollutants.
Increased rainfall, on the other hand, could result in more pollution due to sedimentation, as well as overloads to facilities designed to reduce sewage overflows and storm-water runoff. If sea levels rise as predicted, freshwater quality in coastal areas could also be affected, contaminating the water supply with saltwater.

Higher temperatures would speed evaporation and, when combined with earlier snowmelt and potential decreases in precipitation, could also increase the risk of drought conditions.

Agriculture
Climate is a critical to food production. While crop growth might initially benefit from a warmer climate, especially in temperate areas, ongoing changes in climate, water supply and soil moisture would eventually make farming more difficult in some regions. A temperature-related increase in ground-level ozone could also present a challenge to farmers, as could the greater potential for droughts, floods, and heat waves.

According to a 2001 report by the National Resources Council, regional climate shifts are likely to result in significant changes in the agricultural industry. Because large corporate farms are better equipped to make modifications to equipment, practices and crops, or even to relocate, the climate shift is likely to have a larger impact on small farmers.

Recreation
Parks, refuges, and wilderness areas are set aside because of their unique natural characteristics. If plant and animal species migrate in response to climate shifts, much of our public recreation land could be subject to drastic changes in character.
We may not have to wait very long to witness those effects. Montana’s Glacier National Park has only 25 active glaciers today, down from about 150 in 1850, and those that remain are only a fraction of their former size.

Some of the predicted climate-based impacts on recreation and tourism in the U.S. include declines in coldwater fish habitat that would curb fishing; shifts in migratory bird populations, affecting birdwatchers and hunters; beach loss due to sea-level rise; changes in coral reefs, affecting snorkeling and SCUBA diving; and fewer locations and days suitable for winter activities, such as skiing, snowmobiling, and ice fishing.

What Can You Do?
Even if human-generated climate change turns out to be a myth, as some insist, we will still benefit from reducing our dependence on nonrenewable fossil fuels. The rewards reaped will be cleaner air, less competition for finite resources and less anxiety over them, and monetary savings. If, however, global warming is a reality, and we continue to consume energy at today’s levels, scientists say the consequences could be dire. By making just a few small changes in your home and yard, you can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, increase the nation’s energy independence, and save money. Here are a few simple and painless suggestions, courtesy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to help you get started.

Definitions:
Greenhouse Gasses: According to the EPA, greenhouse gases are gases that trap the heat of the sun in the earth’s atmosphere, producing the greenhouse effect.The two major greenhouse gases are water vapor and carbon dioxide. Lesser greenhouse gases include methane, ozone, chlorofluorocarbons, and nitrogen oxides.

The “Greenhouse Effect”: The effect of the Earth’s atmosphere, due to certain gases, in trapping heat from the sun; the atmosphere acts like a greenhouse.

Greenhouse Emissions: Waste gases given off by industrial and power plants, automobiles, and other processes.

21 comments

1 Tim { 07.09.13 at 12:46 pm }

This article would have been far more interesting if it had included information about how Farmer’s Almanac is changing the algorithms and processes used to analyze and predict weather to accommodate climate change.

Because if the same processes are used today as 120 years ago, and the predictions are still as accurate: then where’s the beef?

2 Sally { 10.11.12 at 6:29 pm }

Thank you very much for writing this. It’s true. It’s real. It’s here.

3 Melissa { 08.07.12 at 12:31 pm }

I can’t believe my beloved FA is falling into this trap. Go back over your own records and predictions before you jump on the train of “it’s mankind’s fault for everything bad that’s happening”. If you’re not careful you might just jump in front of the train.
Go back to the mid-70’s propaganda about climate change, then and now scientists had proof that they were right. They can’t both be right! Scientists had their global ice age theory blown out of the water so the numbers were “reassessed” and actually points to global warming….yeah….right. Figures never lie, but liers always figure. Statistics can be manipulated to prove just about anything you want.
God is in control, the weather will do what it will, we have to learn to survive and go with it, and going “green” will not keep up with the speed at which the change is coming.

4 Stephen { 08.05.12 at 6:56 pm }

Like I tell my children “follow the money”. Scientists are not to be trusted, because if they come out against the PC correct global warming concept, they lose their funding. Carbon credits are for one purpose to generate an industry for money for nothing.

The scientific community should be ashamed that they have based their results on a money popularity contest. It is too bad that we have the best scienitific community and the best equipment and labs, but can not get true valid data that we need to make good decisions.

5 chellemac333 { 08.05.12 at 9:56 am }

You will never convince me that global warming is not real. Wheather it be a natural cycle of the earth or a man made problem I know it is real and happening right now.
I have lived in rural Kansas for 12 years. In the last 4 years the climate here has changed drasticly…temps have risen every summer, this year we have had 27 days of 100+ temps so far and it’s only August 5th! The crops sit in the fields, burnt up and no good. My pond is now a puddle. Everyone I know is praying for rain and cooler weather. We must all do our part to reduce our carbon footprint on mother earth!

6 David Barber { 08.05.12 at 8:59 am }

An interesting book to read that blows the lid on the whole man-made global warming is the ‘1000.’ It describes the world in the year 1000 based on the records. They were experiencing above natural temperatures, low rainfall. Of course human activity was low then and there was no industry to blame. It was said early in the piece. It is natural. It’s a natural 1000 year cycle of the earth. It is not because of man-made activity. It appears to be (as said in other posts) natural action of the sun. No need to panic, make new laws, restrict coal-based fuels or anything else. As our sun reaches middle age, it will heat up more then begin to cool. I suspect (if the Lord tarries) that we will see a cooling earth in the future.

7 Jaime McLeod { 08.02.12 at 10:31 am }

Mounntain Girl – I think you misunderstood that statement as somehow praising corporate farms. That was not the intention at all. Rather, it’s just meant to point out how climate change could make farming more difficult for everyone. Corporate farms have more money to absorb the inevitable losses and still make a profit (which, as you note, is their core objective). I’m a huge supporter of small farms, though, and I hope you’re right. As for “unsubstantiated,” as noted in the article, all of these projections are from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2007 report (their next report is due in 2013).

8 Steve { 08.01.12 at 10:43 pm }

Measuring devices used to gauge the temperature were placed next to an outside air-conditioning vent that blew out hot air, next to a tin roof, next to a tar/gravel road, in NC, in fact the majority of the sites were used illegally to measure the true “rises” in temperature. I also remember when Jimmy Carter was President that we were warned by “Climatologists and other Scientists that they had measured the earths temperatures for over a hundred years and we were definitely headed into a huge “ice age”…I wonder if these are the same guys?

9 Gary { 08.01.12 at 7:57 pm }

This article was not helpful at all. Of common sense, it was good. Of course we need to conserve energy. That is a no- brainer. But try to convince the Europeans of global warming. They just experienced one of their coldest winters on record. And they have had record rainfall this summer while we sweat and experience one of the worst droughts and heat the North American hemisphere has experienced in decades! Bottom line: No one knows for sure.

10 R Webb { 08.01.12 at 5:44 pm }

I find it laughable that the climate change alarmists ignore the greatest cause of temperature change in the solar system. Our Sun. If you follow the heating and cooling trends they closely follow the sun activity.

11 dlmadigan { 08.01.12 at 4:00 pm }

I have watched the temperature variations and over the years the temp goes up and down. There is a 50 year warming up cycle and a 50 year cooling off cycle. When I was a boy the world was going into an ice age. We were headed for the glacier age again. The government is using this warmup cycle to scare people into depending on the government to control more things. The people of this generation has never seen the past weather so it is new to them. So they believe almost anything the government says. The weather service has debunked the global warming many times but most of the time the people of the world doesn’t pay attention. I have seen cold tomes and hot times. I was born in 1938 so there has been many temperature variations during my time.

12 Lew Erhart { 08.01.12 at 2:33 pm }

Fosil fuel , carbon based fuel is the use of (burning) of PREVIOUSLY trapped carbon so it by definition is “re using” carbon. how is this harmful again? Hydro carbons are in the ground now, when they are brought to the surface they become polution? Is water polution when it is brought to the surface? What is the differance? We can’t drink it? So what burn it, alkali water is undrinkable and acres of it are ubove ground in Nevada where is the cleanup? Macando onshore. oh farmers not evil oil.

13 bushr { 08.01.12 at 12:30 pm }

I believe a lot of this is about government greed control. It is difficult to control a lot of small business, so get rid of them. Then it is so much easier to control a smaller amount of large business. Use as many scare tactics as it takes to get the majority of non producers to agree with the BIG VOICE, but know little to nothing about what is actually taking place in this once great Country. Much of the so called drought is taking place because the big cities are pumping so much of both ground and river water to them, leaving the ground water table much lower. What happens, when it does rain we all know water sinks into the ground until it hits the water table. The water table being so much lower this leaves the ground surface dry and arid.
Who don’t the cities convert ocean water in greater quanties of usable city water and leave the water table alone for agriculture and other necessary uses?
The earth also need much more shade, as it once had before all the trees were raped by greed and profit from the land. All of Eastern United States from the Mississippi River to the Atlantic Ocean, from the Canadian Border to The Gulf of Mexico was once covered with hugh forests. This was and still is America’s normal state. As a result the ground was shaded, osmosis took place, climate was cooler and it rained more. The Native Americans had more earth wisdom than did the white man.
Wisdom and experience tells us that America should begin to replant hugh acres of unusable farm land back into forests, not for lumber but to help to cool the land. It will work, if man has enough sense to work it before it is to late. Remember, there is always a, “point of no return”.

14 Darrell Nelson { 08.01.12 at 12:00 pm }

I read all these theories of CO2, freon 12, Ozone layer and all this scientific stuff and I ask myself what melted the Ice millions of years ago before fire was discovered and made lakes canyons mountains and so forth. All this took place before Freon, exhaust from fuels and on and on. It is a cycle and I wish we would quite spending millions to find out why and deal with it. By the way energy can not be made or destroyed just changed from one form to another.

15 MountainGirl { 08.01.12 at 11:53 am }

HaHa, this made me laugh : “Because large corporate farms are better equipped to make modifications to equipment, practices and crops, or even to relocate, the climate shift is likely to have a larger impact on small farmers.” Why? Because they will have access to fossil fuels while the rest of us don’t? But it really isn’t funny that people actually think that the corporations care about them and want to keep producing food for them through a climate crisis. If you haven’t figured out by now that it’s all about profits, then you’re lost. As long as big-ag can maintain profits, they’ll grow your food for you. It has nothing to do with your health, the health of the earth, the connection to the earth, or doing right by feeding the hungry.

I must disagree with this sweeping, unsubstantiated statement; in fact, it is the small farmer who is better able to cope. Small farmers tend to have more diversity on their farms and are less affected than those who mono-crop (think acres and acres of GMO corn…which, by the way, is not resistant to drought.) Such diversity allows the small farmer to quickly make changes to methods, sowing, water collection and distribution, etc. Also, small farmers are less reliant on huge fuel-guzzling machinery. Let’s see big-ag try to plow, sow and harvest thousands of acres with a team of horses. I would love to see the reasoning behind the statement that big-ag can weather the changes. If you are thinking subsidies and crop insurance, well that is not the solution. In addition, there is no mention made of how big a contributor corporate agriculture is to the problem of global warming: fossil-fueled machinery is used to plant, harvest, and transport crops; petroleum-based poisons, called “fertilizer” kill soil life and damage the health of the soil…it goes on.

I challenge anyone to visit a small farm, especially one using permaculture and biodynamic principals, and conclude that these thoughtful, conscientious “small” farmers who revere their connections to the earth, are not able to roll with the changes. These farmers actually take the time to observe what is happening on their land and adjust accordingly on a regular basis. They do their best to mimic natural systems which don’t throw a monkey wrench into the ecological web.

Have fun trying to get your mono-crop based products at the grocery store when the SHTF.

16 kevin { 08.01.12 at 11:08 am }

Assuming there really is a “greenhouse” effect and it is caused by trapping CO2 and other carcinogenic pollutants in our atmosphere, why don’t people insist that “chem-trails be halted right now? It’s a practice that was denied since 1998 and now officials claim it was to combat “global warming”. The twisted logic is that as the trails spread out over us they reflect the sun light and lower the earths temperature. Do you cool off by putting on a blanket?
Doesn’t logic dictate that it would trap, not only the heat but CO2, radiation and chemical carcinogens in an already compromised environment? Quit trying to alter or improve what the Earth can compensate for by the natural weather systems!
Was the Dust Bowl {1933-1940} Six Tear drought {1951-1956} Three Year drought {1987-1989} due to “global warming” “greenhouse gases” or is it an earthly cycle that will likely repeat itself fom time to time each century?

17 Kent Chandler { 08.01.12 at 10:42 am }

The level of CO2 in the atmosphere has been much higher in the history of the planet and we would perish without it. Should you continue to include unsupported claims that CO2 causes climate change/global warming you should provide the proof that has eluded the IPCC for twenty years. There is none. There is no supporting proof that CO2 causes global warming/climate change. There are lots of theories that have been paid for by the funds of taxpayers that went to provide jobs for various colleges and Government agencies (EPA) that receive more taxpayer funds to provide unsustantiated theory to further their jobs and research grants. Follow the money to find the problem.

18 Ervin Kistler { 08.01.12 at 9:43 am }

Using data compiled since 1988, to me, isn’t very accurate given the length of our exsistence. As a kid in the late 40s’ & early 50s’ I can remember it being hot in the summer and having snow from late Oct. until late March. Yes, there might be a problem especially when you see all of these black top parking lots which absorb the heat during the day and release it over night never really giving the atomsphere a chance to cool. Lets limit the size of these parking lots and malls. It will also minimize rain runoff which would have soaked into the ground keeping the water table at a higher level.

19 Walter F. Karolkiewicz { 08.01.12 at 9:27 am }

If we all just accept the fact that climate change is happening, has happened and will continue to happen then we can put our efforts into adapting to the changes. It is like ordering the tides to stop!

Just an observation…What is China, India and the developing thrid world going to do with carbon credits when they don’t have enough clean water to drink?

20 Bruce E. Haddad { 08.01.12 at 8:52 am }

Thank you for a compendium on the topic. The issue that most conservatives have is not that global warming is occuring or whether we should or should not limit “greenhouse gasses”. The issue that is the basis for the contumacious conversation is the concept of Carbon Tax.

It appears that there is a great profit to be made in the trading of Carbon Credits assigned to people, places, businesses, etc. I can make money by selling you some of my Carbon Credits. Once I’m out of Carbon Credits for the designated time period, I am taxed. Now – that is a problem.

How do you measure carbon consumption? Who controls the system that contains the Carbon Data? Where are the political boundaries? How much power do these people have over the soverign nations of the world? Are they elected? Do they get their positions by force?

Those are just the start of the problems that ensue when trying to use politics to control Mother Nature.

21 Scott { 07.31.12 at 8:41 pm }

The only way to reducing our dependence on nonrenewable fossil, is a new leaderships in our Government get real work done right

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