Fresh perspective on global warming, a topic that needs it, comes from a geologist.
“Global warming,” suggests Randy Bissell, geoscience advisor at Headington Energy Partners, “causes people.”
Activists who see doom in rising sea levels won’t like that twist of their dogma.
But Bissell, writing in the quarterly newsletter of the Society of Independent Professional Earth Scientists, insists he’s not taking a hard stance.
“I would suggest that many doomsayers might over-represent the certainty of the most pessimistic predictions,” he says. “Likewise, it is unwise for the naysayers to ignore the impact that humans have on the costs and benefits of our technological, environmental, and population trajectories.”
Bissell asserts that human technological advances, cultural progress, and population increases have been caused or at least facilitated by temperature increases of the past 12,000 years.
“Any recent human contribution to that temperature rise,” he adds, “has a possibility of improving worldwide climatic conditions necessary for sustainable population growth and spurring technological progress.”
Indeed, reversal of current temperature and sea-level trends might “result in a human catastrophe of much greater proportion than the projected increases in temperature and rising sea level.”
A few thousand years ago, Bissell points out, polar ice covered much of North America, including the northern US. Retreat of the ice in response to rising average temperature expanded land available for habitation and agriculture.
If warming made more of the globe habitable by more people, cooling would have the opposite effect.
“What happens when freshwater gets pulled from the atmosphere to build glaciers and polar ice caps—remembering, too, that cool air carries less rain-making moisture?” Bissell asks. “What happens to ocean ports and coastlines and reefs? How could a cooling trend be stopped?”
These are interesting questions, seldom pondered.
But what about the sea-level rise? The only alternative, Bissell points out, is sea-level decline, conditions accompanying which would turn ominous questions into real problems.
Adds the geologist: “‘Sea level’ as a permanent datum is actually a silly notion.”
(From the subscription area of www.ogj.com, posted July 2, 2015; author’s e-mail: [email protected])