The Earth’s Air Conditioner


Yesterday the Tucson temperature bumped up against 100 degrees. That was not so unusual for this area this time of year. The locals would say when it gets hot you get chores done early and then stay indoors. The warm weather and absence of snow is one of the biggest reasons for our move to Arizona. I can say without hesitation that I’ve never missed a day of Minnesota winter.

I’ve started reading a book by Gretel Ehrlich. It’s title – In the Empire of Ice. Having just started it, I can’t say yet if I will like it as much as another of her books, entitled The Solace of Open Spaces. I would recommend it highly.

I had only gotten to page fifteen of the introduction to the new book, when I was stopped cold in my tracks. I am a firm believer in the concept of our earth’s climate change. The research and the volume of like-minded credible scientists leave in my mind no doubt that our climate is changing, and not for the better. To blatantly dismiss what is occurring is to be naïve beyond belief.

There is no doubt that what’s occurring is a complicated and difficult science. For those like me who are not trained in science, it’s almost beyond my ability to comprehend the facts. This is why what Ehrlich wrote in her book introduction caught my attention. Many of us have heard the meaning of the acronym KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid. I recall that Carl Sagan wrote about the cosmos in a manner simple enough that most lay people could understand. And in three sentences, Ehrlich has done the same thing.

“Artic ice, including sea ice, glacier ice, permafrost, and ice sheets, drives the entire planet’s climate. Weather systems are global, and the Artic is the natural air conditioner for the entire Earth. Its seasonal blankets of snow and ice send solar radiation-heat-back into space, thus keeping our Earth temperate.”

We understand air conditioning, you turn it on when it gets hot, you turn it off when it is cool. Where is the switch for the world’s air conditioning system? Living in Arizona, I know very well what happens when the AC system leaks or runs out of Freon. The Artic is rapidly running out of it’s own form of Freon, the ice is melting at a level never before recorded by man. If we don’t make the necessary repairs to our planet, our cooling system will be beyond repair.

One last thought. There are those who make foolish and uninformed statements about climate change. A U S Senator stood in the Senate Chamber and proudly held a snowball, arguing that proved there is no climate change. There are others who say making the changes needed will bankrupt our country, or if the rest of the world won’t change, why should we.

So to me here is the gamble. If those of us who believe in climate change are wrong, life goes on and resources spent in making changes were unnecessary. But what if we are correct, and the people of the planet do nothing. We become one more species that will become extinct. It won’t happen in my lifetime, I’m old. Maybe not even in the lifetime of my sons. It will effect the lives of my grandchildren in ways unimaginable. I’m not willing to remain silent about this matter. My grandchildren deserve better of us.

All we need to know about this and the simple message of Gretel Ehrlich – The Artic is the Earth’s air conditioner and that system is disappearing at a rate beyond our comprehension. That’s all we really need to understand.

“I have long understood that climate change is not only an environmental issue-it is a humanitarian, economic, health, and justice issue as well.” Frances Beinecke

Go Well – David