The 411 on dialog exchange and tackling climate change

Who doesn’t enjoy a healthy exchange?!

Well, I had one of those just the other day. It was over several days, actually.

The topics of the cordial-while-respectful sharing of ideas were advocacy and activism. I never thought there would be so much to talk about having to do with this particular conversation subject matter. You’d be surprised!

While I had never previously thought of myself as an air-quality-improvement activist, as a result of this back-and-forth, I now know differently. What the conversation boiled down to is this: advocates talk, activists act, hence the root word “act” in the words “activists” and “activism.” On that description alone, it’s easy to distinguish one from the other. Activist, meanwhile, as applied to my situation means I’m not just spreading the air-quality-improvement message. I’m actively making an effort to try to effect positive change regarding air that we all share. Which, as it happens, has climate change implications.

There is a whole suite of actionable measures that can be taken; everything from peaceful protest to the willful destruction or vandalization of property, publicly and privately owned alike. Such destructive behavior can be for one purpose and one purpose only: attention-seeking.

Just to be clear, most climate activists in their participating in the climate protest movement, observe laws and respect the rights and property of others and exercise a measure of self-control/self-restraint and refrain from resorting to extreme or fringe tactics as a means of trying to make their voices heard.

That all said (such now being out in the open), I want to devote the rest of this space to bringing attention to three key, pressing (top-of-mind) and related environmental issues and their causes. What is presented below is a list of the three said issues with their accompanying descriptions.

Environmental issues and causes

Worsening atmospheric health. Just yesterday (Feb. 17, 2024) on the PBS News Weekend edition on one of the focus segments aired, this had to do with the harm all the rocket-launch activity is causing to the stratosphere, that part of the upper atmosphere sitting just above the troposphere, the atmospheric layer that sits just above the earth’s surface.

According to the invited guest, freelance science journalist Shannon Hall, who had a column having to do with this published in the New York Times, the fuel ignited that propels rockets into space releases black carbon. Black (or elemental) carbon in the stratosphere, which Hall reminded listeners, contains the earth’s ozone layer, a layer that protects life on earth from the sun’s harmful rays, can pose a threat to that layer. Black carbon doesn’t break down in the troposphere very easily. According to Hall, the black carbon deposited in the stratosphere (like that introduced into the troposphere) absorbs the sun’s radiant heat which has the potential to cause stratospheric-layer warming if the black-carbon impact were to be substantial enough. Though Hall did not come right out and say it, logic would have it that if impacted enough, such could compound that warming which is already occurring in the troposphere.

Hall, citing a 2022 published study, noted also that from the impact of increased black carbon resulting from a tenfold increase in rocket launches, could cause the stratospheric temperature to climb by as much as 2 degrees Celsius in places, Hall adding, emphasizing this could have devastating consequences to the stratospheric ozone layer both over large swaths of Europe and North America and over the whole of Asia.

Worsening environmental health due to a warming planet. If you’re a human being and regardless of where on earth you happen to be, how can you not know that the planet’s surface temperature is warming?! The average temperature of the atmosphere at the earth’s surface has been increasing at least since 1900, if not as far back as 1850. This increase has had a climate-influencing effect. We’ve seen the effect: both in the severity and intensity of storm-related damage; rising sea levels; persistent and prolonged droughts; both in wildfire number and seasonal duration; and the fact that the weather stays warmer longer in many places. Nearly all of this brought on by humans’ continued burning of fossil fuels. The problem is compounded by such climate forcers (or what are called feedback loops) as atmosphere, forests, ice and permafrost.

These forcers or forcings can be natural or human-made.

“Any changes to the Earth’s climate system that affect how much energy enters or leaves the system alters Earth’s radiative equilibrium and can force temperatures to rise or fall. These destabilizing influences are called climate forcings. Natural climate forcings include changes in the Sun’s brightness, Milankovitch cycles (small variations in the shape of Earth’s orbit and its axis of rotation that occur over thousands of years), and large volcanic eruptions that inject light-reflecting particles as high as the stratosphere. Manmade forcings include particle pollution (aerosols), which absorb and reflect incoming sunlight; deforestation which changes how the surface reflects and absorbs sunlight; and the rising concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, which decrease heat radiated to space. A forcing can trigger feedbacks that intensify or weaken the original forcing. The loss of ice at the poles, which makes them less reflective, is an example of a feedback.”*

Worsening ocean- and ocean-ecosystem health. Two of the biggest issues affecting ocean- and ocean-ecosystem health is the increase in ocean acidification (lower pH levels) and corral bleaching. Work is ongoing to restore the climate-damaged ocean by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the ocean waters that enter from the atmosphere. The oceans sink about a quarter of all atmospheric carbon dioxide and that CO2, when combining with oceanic hydrogen, forms carbonic acid, which, if in high enough concentrations, can negatively affect sea crustacean exoskeletal development — the outer shells. The same is true regarding damaged corral reef restoration. The work here is aimed at making corral reefs more resilient to sea-temperature rise, the main focus being on eliminating corral bleaching and/or reversing the processes that cause it to occur.

Effective mitigation

So, what can be done to reduce or undo the damage to the atmosphere, climate and the oceans that has already been done.

The biggest and most effective solution (though it may be the most difficult to implement) is a reduction in fossil-fuel-burning activity.

Next, is carbon dioxide extraction from air. This can be done at the emission source or through what I refer to as Direct from Air Carbon Dioxide Capture or (DfACC). What happens to or with the CO2 after it’s removed can vary. It can be buried subsurface, turned into substances like fuel or plastics, supplied to greenhouses to aid in the growth of plants, etc.

And, finally, there could very well be solutions involving geo-engineering like injecting sulphate particles into the stratosphere which, in large enough amounts, in theory, could reflect some of the sun’s radiation back to space or even relying on natural elements or processes to do some of the carbon-sinking work for us. (See: “A Climate-Friendly Way To Capture Carbon Dioxide In The Air” –

* Rebecca Lindsey, a citation from “Climate and Earth’s Energy Budget,” in a Jan. 14, 2009 NASA earth observatory posting.

Above and corresponding, connected home-page-featured images: Robert Simmon, NASA, adapted from Trenberth et al. 2009, using CERES flux estimates provided by Norman Loeb

Update: Feb. 18, 2024 at 12:17 p.m. PST.

— Alan Kandel

Copyrighted material.

2 thoughts on “The 411 on dialog exchange and tackling climate change”

  1. The difference between you and other argument’s is that you provide a position that’s evidence based. Others argue from what they see and believe as truth from media branded influencers.

    Critical thinking is not commonly practiced because if a position does not suit an idea from an influencer (who is not a subject matter expert) then it must be categorically false.


Comments are closed.