Posted by: ericgrimsrud | September 4, 2021

Making logical decisions on global warming

The 2021 report of the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change provides a clear scientific message to the entire world.  In doing what needs to be done in order to stop the ravages of global warming, we have no chance of success if we continue to dwell on the “good times” we have enjoyed on our planet over the last 150 years – all made possible by the Earth’s plentiful and low-cost supplies of fossil fuels along with free of charge waste disposal into our atmosphere. The ease with which we learned to use fossil fuels for our transportation, heating, and material needs was astounding and it is, indeed, challenging to now imagine how we can manage without them. Yet we now know that the laws of Mother Nature clearly tell us that managing without fossil fuels is exactly what we must do if we hope to provide our children, grandchildren, and their descendents with a chance of wellbeing and even survival on our planet. 

By the combustion of fossil fuels, we have added far too much of the  critically important greenhouse gas, CO2, to our atmosphere thereby creating far too much heat retention on the Earth’s surfaces.  In the last decade, we have already witnessed many of the initial effects of global warming and know that they will continuously get worse in the future. Note, for example, the catastrophic flooding in New York this week delivered by Hurricane Ida which first landed in Louisiana well over a thousand miles away and still had the power to do what it did in New York.  Carbon dioxide is a particularly troublesome greenhouse gas in that once emitted into the biosphere, the excess it creates remains there for several centuries. Thus, atmospheric CO2 is our “gift” to our descendents “that will keep on giving” for many generations. 

So, if we want to retain human-friendly conditions on Earth, Mother Nature very clearly tells us that we must abandon our use of fossil fuels as quickly as possible and use other means of energy production that don’t add greenhouse gasses to our atmosphere.  And, if we can’t do that for all of the functions that fossil fuels have made possible (think long-distance air travel, for example), then we will have to learn how to live with greatly reduced use of those functions.

The long overdue actions we must now take have been made unnecessarily difficult by the fact that we have actually increased our use of fossil fuels during the most recent decades – well after climate scientists have sounded the alarm concerning their detrimental effects.  It is also disturbing to note that some of the top climate scientists in the 1970’s were employed by the  prominent  fossil fuel industries of that era and those scientists quickly discovered that future warming was, indeed, likely to occur via the combustion of  their fossil fuels. Upon receiving those reports, however, the CEO’s of those industries decided to terminate their research programs in climate change and spend that money, instead, on the promotion of doubt concerning the research of others who were coming to the same conclusion. Even today, the fossil fuel lobby continues to do its best to promote the use of fossil fuels.

As a result of that unfortunate history, we now find ourselves in a very deep hole with respect the climate change problem.  We now must figure out how to stop the world’s high emissions of CO2 and how to deal with the CO2 emissions accumulated over the entire Industrial Age. Both of these tasks are truly formidable and will require the full application of all of our mental and physical resources. In order to have a snowball in hell’s chance of success in this endeavor we will, at last, have to make decisions that are based squarely on scientific logic rather than our emotional attachments to how we used to do things in our fossil-fuel-saturated world. 

It is fortunate, therefore, that we do have a clear picture of what a logical approach would be – thanks to our many years of scientific exploration in this area. We know that our global warming problem is primarily due to increased levels of greenhouse gasses. Therefore, we must stop emitting them and remove as much of our historical CO2 emissions as we can. Simultaneously, we must develop alternate means of energy production that are driven by either electronic means or by combustion schemes that do not result in the emission of greenhouse gasses.

In deducing what is going to happen in the future, the most important variable yet to be determined is simply what mankind will do. Will we continue to make matters worse or will we begin to solve the problem?  That is, will we take the path based on scientific logic or the one based on our emotional ties to habits of the past? There really is just one choice that provides any hope for the future. Expecting a different result by repetitions of the past is the very definition of insanity. Only by following the dictates of Mother Nature will there be a light at the end of the tunnel we choose to pursue.  


  1. Eric,
    Always appreciate your common sense and easy to understand explanations of how to understand the eminent threat of climate change, and equally pointing to the ways and immediate need to do so.

    It troubles me that the warnings of science seem to continue to be ignored. Perhaps the most recent events of the catastrophic flooding and fires will put some urgency into our political policy makers to pass legislation that will implement the changes in our use of fossil fuels, once again before its too late! Unfortunately my confidence in this bunch we have now is not very good. So my suggestion is to try to motivate people to use the power of their vote to get the right people in these legislative positions who will get the job done!!

    Thank you again for continuing to keep this discussion in the spotlight as I view this as an even bigger threat than the current pandemic. A planet that continues to warm at this rate will not be able to sustain any type of human life with or without a virus!!

    John Beres

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