Global warming (& eventually drought) was initiated by agriculture

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shane...@ieee.org

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Jun 15, 2005, 5:00:32 PM6/15/05
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Evidently global warming started about 8,000 years ago, long before the

Industrial Revolution. An article explaining this is on page 46 of the
Scientific American magazine, March 2005, by William F. Ruddiman. It
turns out that human agriculture (planting seeds, domesticating
animals, etc.) really took off about the same time that global warming
started. (Archeological evidence of farming goes back to 11,000 BC, in
the Tigris and Euphrates deltas, but large scale agriculture didn't get

going in the Nile, Yangtze, Ganges, and other big deltas around the
world until a thousand years later. Some important dates in human
development can be seen by clicking on the following link:
http://historylist.blogspot.com ). Worldwide agriculture led to
cutting
down the forest trees that ordinarily consume carbon dioxide. This is
just as important as generation of the gas by automobiles, etc., when
it comes to global warming.

Large farm animals such as cows exhale carbon dioxide, but a worse
effect is the fact that their intestines exude huge amounts of methane
gas. Methane gas is a much more powerful global warming agent than
carbon dioxide, although there is less of it in the atmosphere.

This is a "vicious circle" sort of thing, where "the more it happens,
the
more it happens further." It involves "positive feedback,"
overwhelming the earth's natural temperature cycles. It would take
drastic measures to slow this down. But evidently people have started
this cycle, and we could probably diminish it also, if the population
could be very much decreased.

By the way, looking at the repeating cycles of atmospheric temperatures

in the geological record, we are overdue for another ice age.
(You can see what I published on that subject, by clicking on this
link:
http://www.sciencenews.org/pages/sn_arc97/12_6_97/letters.htm .)
The Ruddiman article in Scientific American claims that human-induced
global warming has prevented the next ice age.

The only way we could stop the global warming and keep things stable
would be to decrease the world's population of human beings, in a
carefully controlled manner. That would affect both industry and
agriculture. (Cutting back on industry alone won't do the trick.) It's
actually possible to slowly reduce the number of people, because the
non-immigrant populations of the U.S. and Europe have been falling
spontaneously, even without the "famous 3" means of "famine, war, or
plague." (In fact the fast falling population of educated workers is a
big
problem for the support of pensions such as Social Security, and for
generally continuing our economic growth.)

If we don't voluntarily do something about the world's excessive
population, we're liable to get the first of the "famous 3 ---
famine,"
because of warming-induced drought. That could easily lead the other
ones, like "war." In fact, this seems pretty likely, if the ocean rises

and we all get crowded into smaller spaces.

These points (especially POPULATION-provoked temperature change,
in addition to industrial effects") should be intensely discussed in
high
school science and "social studies" courses, as well as in national
governments. Whether or not we can get poor countries to hold back
population growth is unknown, but we ought to be trying harder.

Dan.
http://homepage.mac.com/shanefield/Resume1.html


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