I recently learned that underground coal fires -- as depicted in the film "Silent Hill" -- release as much carbon into the atmosphere world-wide as do all the cars and light trucks in the United States. Since we know that all the cars and light trucks (SUVs) in the United States release DANGEROUS amounts into the atmosphere, threatening catastrophe like the one depicted in the film "The Day After Tomorrow," this is clearly a bad thing.
Firefighters in China recently put out one such coal fire (that had been burning for more than 50 years) at great expense and risk to the men involved, and several new ones have sprung up here in the States. This brings up an important issue: how much money, energy and manpower are we willing to commit to these efforts? Sure, we need to do whatever we can to stop Global Climate Change, but at what cost?
Like usual, I've come up with a solution to this problem. My plan will cost nothing, require no man-power, and will require literally no change in policy, behavior, or freedoms on the part of individuals. The plan is simple: we use water to put out the fires. The beauty of my plan is that as Earth's temperature increases the icecaps melt, raising sea levels, and thus bringing nearly endless supplies of saltwater to the coal fires where they'll be put out naturally. Then, because the fires are no longer emitting CO2, the water level will slowly raise back down, leaving us with mines containing both coal AND salt ripe for the taking.
This got me thinking, though. If it's possible to convert the CO2 emissions from industrial plants into baking soda, what's to stop the same process from converting the exhaust from the millions of vehicles on America's roads as well?
Remember when I suggested that we should be paving our roads white instead of black, so as to reflect more of the suns rays back out of the atmosphere? Well, having every car on the road leaving a fine dusting of white baking soda everywhere it goes seems like a pretty simple solution for the short term. This does cause a few problems, however: 1) the frequent overturned-vinegar-tanker incidents we have will suddenly be a lot more catastrophic, and 2) the amassing white powder might reflect TOO MUCH of the suns rays, putting us into a permanent winter. Hopefully these two problems will simply cancel each other out; when too much baking powder piles up, it will increase the frequency of vinegar tanker crashes, turning the baking powder back into CO2 where it can enter the atmosphere and encourage global warming. It's win/win, really.
I was thinking about global warming the other day, when I came up with what I believe to be an easy (but expensive) solution to our problems.
First, some background:
It is believed that ice ages are more likely to start as a result of cool summers than overly-cold winters. The theory being that snow falls in winter, then melts in summer/spring. If summer and spring are both cooler than normal, then the snow takes longer to melt, meaning more of the sun's rays are reflected off of it rather than helping to warm the ground. This results in continued cooler temperatures, which in turn encourages more snow fall. This sort of thing can snowball rather quickly resulting in year-round snow, meaning you'll have to bundle up.
If you take a peek at satellite photos of inhabited areas, you'll quickly notice that a very large percentage of the land-mass is covered by black heat-absorbing asphalt. I'm not going to claim that rampant asphalt use is responsible for our climate warming, but it certainly isn't helping. I was thinking that if we were to paint all the asphalt white it would reflect more sunlight away from the earth, thus lowering temperatures and fixing global warming once and for all. The only problem with this, though, is that if the 'snowball' theory actually works, this could result in another ice age pretty quickly.
So, my refined solution is to pave all our roads not with inexpensive asphalt, but with some sort of heat-responsive color change substance, meaning that while it is warm, the color will lighten, and when it's cold the color will darken. Perhaps something like this hyper-color shower tile?
I try not to get too vested in issues of any real consequence here, but I've just discovered an overlooked contributor to the temperature increase scientists have been seeing in the world's oceans, and I want to share. Please bear with me.
Cow flatulence has long been considered a contributor to the overall rise in temperature of the planet, and it's been assumed that the oceans have been warming as a result of this outside influence. I've discovered that this simply isn't the case. See, the most noticeable impact on the planet due to the warming of the ocean is seen at the poles; by now pretty much everyone has seen the footage of polar bears trying to deal with the thinning ice and shrinking habitats due to melting. I submit that the poles aren't just an indicator of the warming temperature; they're also the root cause. I ask you this: aside from the salmon, seals, penguins and smelt, what is the dominant living species at each of the poles (at least until they all drown to death, anyway)? Polar bears.
The diet of the polar bear consists almost entirely of Omega-fatty-acid-rich sea creatures such as salmon, seals, penguins, smelt etc. These fats are easy for the body to convert to the stored energy these bears need to regularly expend, but result in high levels of unusable gases that the body must then deal with. Also, because most of the fresh water is trapped in ice form, polar bears apparently get most of their moisture from the condensation on the outside of all their Coca-Cola bottles. It is unknown whether it is the Coca-Cola they're enjoying or just the trace amounts of fresh water dripping off the bottles, but as you can see from the above-linked polar bear documentary clip, they seem to be drinking loads of the stuff. As anyone who eats lots of sushi and cola can tell you, this results in high levels of gas output in the form of flatulence.
Because polar bears are acutely aware of their status in the community, they hold their flatus in until which time their friends won't be able to smell it. (If you think "he who smelt it dealt it" jokes are bad, imagine what it's like when smelt is actually a major part of your diet. That joke gets old REAL fast-like.) The most inconspicuous place to release this stored flatus is in the ocean while hunting for food. However, this inconspicuosity comes at a pretty hefty price. As anyone who has released flatulence in a pool knows, you can feel the warmth in the water around you. So can the ice. And then it melts.
There's been much talk lately of the impending fallout from the melting of Earth's polar ice caps. Lost in the quagmire of blame, denial, and rationalization among most of those doing the talking, the real importance of the issue is becoming as dilute as the oceans surrounding the ever-shrinking cubes at the top and bottom of our planet.
Sure, even if you can escape the -- achem -- polarization of the arguments for and against what is causing it, how to fix it, and whether we should even bother (because, really, Jesus is going to be here soon anyway), some of the consequences may be tugging at your heartstrings. You've surely seen pictures of a tired, water-logged polar bear unable to gather the energy to grab a bite to eat after her agonizing trek to find another hunk of ice large enough to support her weight. Sure, it makes you sad. "But, sad as it makes me, " you ask yourself. "What impact will the loss of polar bears really have on my life?" Well, the sad answer is that it really may not. Polar bears are cute -- but ultimately useless to humans.
The trouble is, the loss of polar ice caps affects something no one else has had the forethought to bring up. Something we all take for granted. Something that, even if we all are forced to become vegetarians due to the food chain's collapse, we will surely be unable to live without. I'm talking, of course, about iceberg lettuce.
Even assuming the cows are able to survive our hostile new climate, what will our primary source of food -- fast food restaurants -- shred and then sprinkle liberally over our freezer-burnt "meat" patties? What will women pick out of their salads during first dates? How will "salad in a bag" manufacturers stay in business? What will people make bad "head" puns about?
So this is my plea to every one of you: please try to put aside the bickering over whether we are causing the change, whether the change is stoppable, or whether we should just wait for Jesus, and just think about the iceberg lettuce. We need to try to do whatever we can to preserve this essential part of our diets, while we're still "a head."