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Fri, May 14, 2021 07:17
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Environmental Science

Environmental Science isn't a subject that excites everyone but I teach it and have done so off and on for 13 years. While the basics haven't changed much, the devil is in the details!

Climate change is the elephant in the room. And we need to pay attention to it. You see according to some, the earth is suppose to be getting colder because all its orbiting cycles are falling into place for it to do so. These cycles include the polar orientation, orbit apogee and perigee variation, and the like. These caused the last ice age where NY was under a huge glacier.

However, it's pretty obvious that the earth isn't getting colder. Average temperatures are gradually increasing. Glaciologists are seeing the Greenland ice pack warming up. Venice Italy has been battling the rising water levels (and the sinking city) for centuries. Water seems to be winning lately.

In contrast, the earth's far distant past has been considerably warmer. Evidence shows that Canada had Florida type weather and there were no ice caps at either pole.

None of the facts that are out there are hard to understand. The various explanations and discussions are in plain language with no differential equations or five syllable words. It is in the interpretation of the evidence that we stumble. The gamut is from cautious optimism to dire pessimism.

Timing may be the biggest issue. How quickly will things occur? It's certain we can't stop the world. We can't stop cow farts tomorrow. We can't all turn in our internal combustion engines and convert to mass transportation and electric vehicles by summer.

I've come to two conclusions recently.

First: The biggest problem the current generation of high school students will face in their lifetime is global climate change. These young people will live another 60 to 70 years. In that time, the effects of climate will be played out to the extent that many doubts and uncertainties will be erased. They will know for certain what is happening and how the world is changing and the human race with it.

Second: Perhaps one outcome will be a realignment of human priorities on a global scale. Over the last 200 years, we have gotten pretty good at achieving health and wealth. While worthy of our effort, these goals may be adjusted for future generations in ways we don't yet know, to provide better sustainability and a future we can't yet imagine.

And how will all this affect the pulp, paper, and package industry? Ah, that's the challenge isn't it? How indeed?

If you want to see some interesting and purely scientific talks on this subject, use and search Hans Rosling (economics), Kristin Poinar (glaciology), or Dan Britt (global climate).

Gene Canavan is a retired West Point Graduate and Paper Mill Utilities Manager and lives in Prattville, Alabama, USA.


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