Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Michael, meet Global Warming

My introduction to global warming first occurred in the early 1990's as I was waiting for a bus next to Colonial drive in Central Florida, close to a busy intersection (are there even any non-busy intersections on hwy 50?). Cars were stopped and idling right in front of me while waiting for the light to turn green. It was a warm day to begin with, but feeling the heat radiating off of them, it was then that I grasped the concept of global warming.

It was simple to me, us humans are burning fuel that is normally at either air or underground temperature, causing a chemical reaction and introducing additional heat to a closed environment. In my head, I had a picture of a glass box which represented Earth and the atmosphere. Place a heat source in the middle of it or light a match inside and of course the temperature is going to get hotter. Granted, the size of the box (the Earth is large) and of the heat source relative to it (cars are negligible by comparison) must also be taken into consideration. But take the significant amount of heat that is being generated by that one car in front of me and multiply it by hundreds of thousands that are running all day long, every day of the year and surely there would be an affect from it.

Part two of my introduction presented itself when riding my motorcycle at night down Alafaya trail, in the Waterford Lakes (East Orlando) area. For a mile stretch, both sides of the road were lined with trees (probably not anymore). When riding from the busier section of the road into the tree-lined portion I felt the temperature drop noticeably. Significantly cooler air was present as soon as I encountered the trees on both sides.

So again, it was simple. We are removing trees that cool the environment to an extent that is relevant, and replacing them with parking lots and cement buildings. Therefore we are not only adding heat by the combustion of fossil fuels, but we are also removing the foliage that would normally absorb the harsh rays of the Sun and convert them to Oxygen for us to inhale, as well as providing additional cooling of our atmosphere.

Is everything as simple or straightforward as it seems though? Stay tuned for part 2...

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