Curing Atmospheric Cancer

“Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds” — Vishnu, Bhagavad Gita

Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere are called greenhouse gases. Over 81% of greenhouse gas emissions come from Carbon Dioxide ( CO2). CO2 enters the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil), solid waste, trees and wood products, and also as a result of certain chemical reactions (e.g., manufacture of cement). CO2 is removed from the atmosphere (or “sequestered”) when it is absorbed by plants as part of the biological carbon cycle.

Human CO2 emissions upset the natural balance of the carbon cycle. Man-made CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by a third since the pre-industrial era, creating an artificial forcing of global temperatures which is warming the planet. While fossil-fuel derived CO2 is a very small component of the global carbon cycle, the extra CO2 is cumulative because the natural carbon exchange cannot absorb all the additional CO2.

The term “temperature anomaly” means a departure from a reference value or long-term average. A positive anomaly indicates that the observed temperature was warmer than the reference value, while a negative anomaly indicates that the observed temperature was cooler than the reference value.

The following chart illustrates temperature anomalies for the last one hundred and and forty (140) years as collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

As can be seen Global temperatures gathered in June of each year really began to increase around 1980 and have continued to do so even since. 2017 was actually the third warmest year on record and with the data now in for the first half of 2018, Carbon Brief estimates that 2018 is most likely to be the fourth warmest on record for the Earth’s surface. Anyone doubting the Earth is getting warmer each year need only look at the following chart from NASA. Researchers are now explaining that rising arctic temperatures have slowed the circulation of the jet stream and other giant planetary winds, which means pressure fronts are getting stuck and the weather is less able to moderate itself.

Traditionally, the primary purpose of cancer surgery has been to cure the disease by removing all of it from a patient’s body. A surgeon usually does this by removing cancerous cells. However, the surgery often requires removing some surrounding healthy tissue as well to ensure all of the cancer is removed. For example, lung cancer surgery can involve removing a portion of the lung or the entire lung. An operation to remove the lung cancer and a small portion of healthy tissue is called a wedge resection.

We need to stop trying to attribute climate change to a particular industry, like fossil fuel extraction, and simply get on with implementing a solution which, regardless of the cause, results in lowering the temperature of the planet. This can be accomplished by reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and giving the planet an opportunity to breathe once again.

The most direct way to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is to reduce their production which all scientists agree are produced by the production of CO2 while burning of fossil fuels. So forget all the blaming and let’s just get on with the solution. It’s likely time to perform a wedge resection on the atmosphere where the fossil fuel industry may simply represent the healthy cells that must be removed to ensure that all of the atmospheric cancer is removed.

Very few would question their doctor if he or she told them they “had cancer”. Yet many question climate scientists all the time when they examine the matter of the universe and tell us it’s afflicted with a cancer caused by greenhouse gases and that cancer is slowly killing the planet and us as well.

In its periodic assessments, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has reached increasingly strong conclusions about the detection of climate change in observations. Through the IPCC, thousands of experts from around the world synthesize the most recent developments in climate science, adaptation, vulnerability, and mitigation every five to seven years. The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report concluded that it is “virtually certain” (i.e., probability >0.99) that the increase in the Earth’s mean surface temperature seen since 1950 is not due to internal variability alone (Bindoff et al. 2013: 885).

That is, the probability that the warming is due to internal variability alone was assessed by the scientists, on the basis of available evidence and expert judgment, to be less than 1%. Indeed, it was noted that, even if internal variability were three times larger than estimates from simulations, a change would still be detected (ibid.: 881, citing Knutson et al. 2013). Changes have been formally detected in many other aspects of the climate system as well, not just in the atmosphere but also in the oceans and the cryosphere.

Yet climate change deniers continue to misinform and mislead any and all who will listen to their unsubstantiated banter. It’s hard to believe but the climate change deniers actually have their own convention sponsored by The Heartland Institute. A description of the convention along with the names of the principle climate change deniers can be found here ( ).

Much like the Tobacco Institute before it the Heartland Institute wraps it’s mission in a disingenuous, innocuous statement “To discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems”. It seems clear, however, the only thing The Heartland Institute wants to promote is the economic wellbeing of it’s oil and gas company members. Again, like the Tobacco Institute, the Heartland Institute cannot support oil an gas development without acknowledging the damage it causes the environment. Instead their propaganda speaks to issues like an “Orwellian grab of property rights and individual freedoms”. ( ), who could be against that?

When a fire is approaching people or property we don’t stop to argue who or what started it. We simply call the Fire Department and have the fire put-out. We need to do the same with global warming. We shouldn’t care what or who is responsible for it. We should simply put it out because it’s a clear and present danger to all human beings on Earth. According to the Heartland Institute, “A warming climate is a natural climate and fossil fuel extraction and use for energy is not contributing to a warming climate. In addition, “expanding U.S. energy exports, will allow struggling peoples in the developing world to climb out of poverty while delivering manufacturing, construction and transportation jobs to U.S. companies.”

The myopic focus of groups like The Heartland Institute attempt to direct attention to their claims that a warming climate is not related to fossil fuel extraction but they never discuss the much more direct and obvious affects of climate change like it’s impact on agriculture and the planet’s oceans.

Climate change disruptions to agricultural production have increased in the past 40 years and are projected to increase over the next 25 years. By mid-century and beyond, these impacts will be increasingly negative on most crops and livestock. “Many regions will experience declines in crop and livestock production from increased stress due to weeds, diseases, insect pests, and other climate change induced stresses.”

Carbon dioxide, temperature, and precipitation affect livestock and crop production. Plants have an optimal temperature range to which they are adapted, and regional crop growth will be affected by shifts in a region’s temperatures relative to each crop’s optimal range. Large shifts in temperature can significantly affect seasonal biomass growth, while changes in the timing and intensity of extreme temperature effects are expected to negatively affect crop development during critical windows such as pollination.

Crop production will also be affected by changing patterns of seasonal precipitation; extreme precipitation events are expected to occur more frequently and negatively affect production levels. Livestock production is directly affected by extreme temperature as the animal makes metabolic adjustments to cope with heat stress. Further, production costs in confined systems markedly increase when climate regulation is necessary.

Healthy coral reefs are one of the most valuable ecosystems on Earth. They provide billions of dollars in economic and environmental services, such as food, coastal protection and tourism. However, coral ecosystems face serious threats, mainly from the effects of global climate change and land-based pollution. When corals are stressed by changes in conditions such as temperature, light, or nutrients, they expel the symbiotic algae living in their tissues, causing them to turn completely white. This is what a healthy vs. bleached coral reef looks like.

Forget placing blame on the fossil fuel industry for climate change. Let’s just focus on saving our ability to feed ourselves and our oceans. That can be done by reducing the increase in Earth’s temperature which all, even the Hartland Institute, agree is happening. If we don’t succeed in reducing increases in the Earth’s temperature we’ll all be reciting Vishnu’s words:

Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds





Originally published at on August 20, 2018.

Husband for 49 years. Dad forever! Very lucky man.