The Dimming Dilemma

L. Wolfe

Al Gore and the environmental stewards of the world have been pushing us to stop burning fossil fuels before we all shrivel under Venus-like greenhouse effects into tiny crispy-critter char-balls (CCCBs).  OK, Alfonso, we all agree something needs to be done.  We all want to reduce our carbon footprint, although maybe in the U.S. “carbon ass-print” is more like it. One option, which I have written about previously here at the Discord, is wind energy.  Certainly breaking wind makes us all feel better.  But, solar energy is another option recently championed by the green meanies.

“Solar energy, the ultimate sustainable energy source!” they say.  “Free energy!” they say.  “A hybrid in every pot!” they say.   “Free sustainable hydroponic pot energy!” they say.   Sorry.

But whoa, cowboy, there are problems with solar, too.  Al Gore and his one million in Nobel Prize money won’t say it, though.  First, there is a significant carbon ass-print associated with the manufacturing of solar panels.  Second, there are all those batteries that are needed to store the energy for all those times when and where the sun don’t shine.  Batteries have a HUGE carbon ass-print, and beyond that, they have all those nasty heavy (and very toxic) metals in them, like Algorite.  But there is another more troubling problem with solar power in this age of fossil fuelism, a phenomenon known as Global Dimming. 

You’ve never heard of Global Dimming?  No.  Sorry.  We are not talking about that child left behind.

Didn’t you watch An Inconvenient Truth?  Oh, that’s right, good ‘ol Al ‘forgot’ to mention it.  Perhaps it ended up on the cutting room floor in favor of the segment on the long history of the Gore family farm, or the segment on the sister who died of lung cancer.  Or, more likely, it wasn’t discussed because Global Dimming is sort of an inconvenient truth for An Inconvenient Truth.  It would damper some of the green crowd’s enthusiasm if people actually understood this phenomenon.

So what is Global Dimming, you ask?  Well, surprisingly, it is one of the primary factors that have proven that global warming (oops, sorry, that’s not PC) global climate change is occurring and is directly related to human activity.  Here is the 30-second overview (or the 30-minute, if you’re that child left behind):

  • In the 1950s, an Israeli scientist conducted detailed measurements of the Sun’s energy in order to improve evaporation calculations and design better irrigation systems in Israel.  The study was very thorough and included dozens of locations throughout Israel.
  • In the 1980s, that same scientist conducted the same studies again at the same locations in Israel.  He found that the Sun’s energy reaching the earth’s surface had been REDUCED by over 4% from the levels measured in the 1950s. “Holy Milk and Honey, Batman!”  So, he went back and checked everything about the 1950 and 1980s experiments and found that he had done everything right.  Indeed, the Sun’s energy reaching the Earth was definitely 4% less than in the 1950s.
  • Why is this reverse trend happening?  Increased volcanic activity?  Cyclical changes in the suns output?  Zamboni Gypsies?  Shit goblins? No…but those are all good answers.  How about particulate pollution from the burning of fossil fuels?  Huh?  This is the correct answer. All we are saying is give smog a chance.
  • After publishing his findings, this scientist was ridiculed by many and berated as a crackpot.  A decade later, however, substantial lines of evidence from all over the world were vindicating his study and providing additional lines of evidence.
  • In the 1990s, an intensive multinational effort was conducted that proved, beyond a shadow of a shit goblin, that particulate pollution from the burning of fossil fuels has indeed led to the 4% reduction in the sun’s energy reaching the earth’s surface over much of the globe.

So what are the consequences of this global dimming?

One truly frightening revelation is this: without global dimming, the effects of global warming (er, climate change) would be significantly more obvious to us than it is today.  In fact, global dimming, and its associated cooling effect on the Earth, has actually tempered the heating effect of greenhouse gases.  One obvious problem becomes this: the moment we actually start reducing fossil fuel pollution, there is likely going to be a significant spike in the heating effect of the current levels of greenhouse gas as the amount of our sun’s energy reaching the Earth’s surface increases dramatically. 

How is that for irony?  And that’s real irony, not the Alanis Morissette kind of irony, which really isn’t irony at all; isn’t that ironic?  Don’t ya think?

Second, global dimming actually significantly decreases the effectiveness of solar energy sources.  Be it photovoltaic cells or reflective heating technologies, global dimming decreases the effectiveness of these alternative energy solutions and makes them much less cost effective, which, in turn, means you need more batteries, more plastics, more this, more that, and next thing you know we are all sitting in Cabana chairs sipping boat drinks by some shriveled up Lake in Saskatchewan looking at a stuffed Polar Bear and thinking to ourselves, wow, they must have lived with those Mastodon thingies back in the day.

Pass me another boat drink, will ya’?  Whew, it’s hot.  Oh, we’re out of water and ice…all right, straight-up then.

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