A Global Warming Primer Notes from Chapter One: By Shanti Moorjani

In the first chapter of the book, A Global Warming Primer by Jeffrey Bennett, the opening quote in the introduction says: "Preservation of our environment is not a liberal or conservative challenge: it's common sense"  President Ronald Reagan, January 25, 1984 (State of the Union address).  The first chapter of this book starts with basic science, suggesting it is not that difficult and understandable to an average 4th or 5th grader.  The key is to be informed and see the big picture. 

"Is human-induced global warming a real threat to our future?", the first, of many questions Mr. Bennett asks.   He asserts his 3 goals in this Primer book is to, 1) To show anyone can understand the basic science of global warming, 2) To understand arguments from skeptics and make your own decision, and 3) To know there are bi-partisan ways to solve these problems and protect the earth for future generations.

He starts with "The Tale of two Planets", Earth and Venus. They are both a live-able distance from the sun and both about the same size.  The average surface temperature of Earth is 59 degrees  and Venus is 880 degrees. This difference in temperature is because of carbon dioxide. Earth has just enough carbon dioxide to keep in the heat of the planet and make it live-able, while Venus has 200,000 times as much as Earth......too much of a good thing. The trapped heat makes the surface of Venus "hotter than a pizza oven".  This example makes it clear that excesses of carbon dioxide, which we call "greenhouse gases" does heat up a planet! 

The author suggests the arguments for global warming are as easy as 1 -2 - 3.

First, "Carbon dioxide" is a greenhouse gas (a gas that traps in heat) and makes a planet (like Earth or Venus) warmer than it would be otherwise." 

Second, "Human activity, especially coal, oil, and gas all release carbon dioxide when burned - adding significantly to the amount  in the atmosphere."

Third, "The inevitable conclusion is we should expect the rising concentration of carbon dioxide to warm our planet bringing more severe consequences as more is added."

Mr. Bennett goes to explain Fact #1, showing how particles of light that enter our earth from the sun can either escape  back to space, or stay to give heat.  It's a delicate balance that has worked for human life here on earth.   His analogy of too much greenhouse gases (including H20, Carbon dioxide CO2, Methane CH2) is likened to a "blanket" that traps in too much heat, like Venus.  Using basic physics and sophisticated instruments, these measurements of light have been calculated.

The rest of this first chapter in the Global Warming Primer book answers every imaginable question of even a hardcore skeptic, supporting the answers with hardcore proof. The final conclusion is we should expect global warming. The next questions are how much can we handle and how long until the balance is upset?  Part of the answer to that will be coming up in Chapter 2, discussing climate trends, past, present, and future.  More later!