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Via the wonder of social media - I found myself privvy to a heated, shall we say, conversation about 'global warming' or 'climate change.' I am not sure which term is currently accurate or appropriate or politically correct, given which donkey or elephant one might be riding at the moment... Amazingly - the argument being touted was that humans cannot affect the earth. Not even 7 billion of them. Not one little bit. While this argument had leveraged credibility from a You Tube video of a satirical George Carlin skit - I couldn't help but think that maybe some of these people should take a look at some GIS maps before they bought in to the whole 'it's a hoax' kind of thinking and philosophy.
In the case of monitoring and understanding earth changes at the global scale - here are some interesting data and maps -
For the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico - http://blog.al.com/wire/2011/08/gulf_dead_zone_stretches_from.html As the article states - while many different things contribute to the dead zone - nitrogen dumping from human created sources, such as fertilizer and sewage, constitute major components of the zone. As the dumping continues, the ability of the ocean to recover is lessened. Perhaps the biggest 'hint' that dead zones are caused by fertilizers (ie., humans) - the recovery of the Black Sea dead zone - which disappeared between 1991 - 2001 after fertilizers became too expensive to use. The area thrives again as a fishing area today. If humans didn't cause it, how come it went away when they weren't causing it anymore?
Regarding global deforestation - good news on that front - new studies address 'carbon storage' in combination with 'forest loss'. NASA provides these maps that show forests soak up even more carbon than was previously believed - so disappearing rainforests are less responsible than previously thought for the global warmup. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110531155645.htm Deforestation also proves to be ultimately reversible - due to use of technology with satellite imagery and pro-forest policies. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization's 2010 Global Forest Resources Assessment find that overall rate of deforestation has declined. The net change in forest area in the period 2000-2010 is estimated at -5.2 million hectares per year (an area about the size of Costa Rica), down from -8.3 million hectares per year in the period 1990-2000. That is still an awful lot of forests going bye bye - but again, if it's not human caused, how is it that it was slowed by human intervention?
You can say that these little earth change examples don't have a single thing to do with global warming - and that's not the point. The point is people do impact the earth and we can prove it. To even postulate that humans aren't responsible for what goes on here on the big blue marble - well, really, now that's just silly. Even for George Carlin.
For a whole host of fun-filled climate science myths - try this site out - http://knowledge.allianz.com/climate/science/?717/climate-skeptics-scien... It has cool pictures and maps too! :-)