The Planet of Extremes

By Richard E Walrath and Patricia L Johnson

We live on a planet of extremes. The greatest portion of fresh water on earth is in frozen Antarctica. Most people know 70% of the earth is covered with water, but most don’t know that 97.5% of that water is sea-water, while only 2.5% is fresh water. The main reason our source of fresh water is declining is due to our constantly increasing world population. Source:

Following is chart indicating population explosions in the top three countries of the world over the past 40 year period.

While U.S. and China populations increased significantly over the past 40 years, India’s population has doubled within that same period of time.

With 70% of the earth covered by water, only 30% is land, and close to two-thirds of that is desert or otherwise inhabitable. Our steadily expanding desert areas caused mainly by desertification, combined with weather related coastal erosion and our ever increasing population doesn’t leave much inhabitable land left to live on.

2009 Map by NASA Earth Observatory

2005 was the warmest year on record until NASA’s GISS announced on January 12, 2011 that 2010 tied 2005 as the warmest year on record. The difference between the temperatures in 2005 and 2010 was less than 0.018 degrees Fahrenheit – making them a statistical tie.

2009, as depicted by the above map, was tied with 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, and 2007 as being the 2nd warmest years on record and the period from 2000 through 2010 became the warmest decade on record according to NASA.

That being the case, how could we possibly end up with the following image of Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas and the Texas Panhandle covered in white? The following image taken by NASA’s MODIS [Moderate Resolution Imaging spectroradiometer] on February 10, 2011 indicating nearly all states listed above are covered in ice and snow “except for a bit of clouds in the lower right (southeast corner).

Is it any wonder the climate of the world is changing? The difference between weather and climate is time.

Weather is the term used for short term changes in temperatures, while climate is determined over a period of years and the changes in the climate of our planet [global warming] is caused in part by all of the items listed above, decreasing water supply, coastal erosion, growing population and expanding desert area while the actual weather changes in the US can be attributed to Northern Hemisphere Arctic Oscillation due to global warming.

For the first 70 years of the last century Arctic Oscillation followed a climate pattern of a positive phase, followed by a negative phase, followed by a positive phase. Around 1970 the pattern changed and the positive phase has been far more prevalent than the negative phase in the past 40 years. The pattern changes have caused the cold air that usually stays in the Arctic to move south, while warmer air is pushed northward.

Hence, the unusual snow and ice covering US States that historically have seen very little snow and ice.

So, where do we go from here? With the earth getting warmer, the world’s population constantly increasing, desert area expanding, coasts eroding, water supplies decreasing, what are we doing about these problems? It’s hard to believe, but the answer is practically nothing. As far as global warming or climate change is concerned, the answer to that is to deny that it is happening.

© 2011 Richard E Walrath and Patricia L Johnson

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