Despite what many environmentalists would have you believe, nobody is really sure about the causes of global warming. Certainly, the earth has warmed over the past century, but perhaps that is only because it had cooled so much since Roman times. I imagine that had today's environmentalists been alive a thousand years ago, they'd be chastising people for burning wood and coal to keep warm and cook food. After all, anyone could see all the smoke rising up to the sky, blocking the warmth of the sun.
Today, of course, no right-thinking person believes that burning wood and coal will lead to another ice age. This is the new millennium, after all, and we left such silly beliefs back in the 1970s and '80s. No, today, the same folks who made fun of their parents for crying about a coming ice age are themselves, now, crying about melting ice caps, whole cities under water, scorched crops, and the need for SPF5000 sun block in a few years.
Personally, I think the whole argument is silly. After all, scientists say the planet Mars, too, has been heating up lately, complete with melting polar ice caps, and try as I might, I just cannot see any way to blame mankind. Unless those rovers NASA sent there are actually pollution-spewing planet-warmers disguised as exploration vehicles. No, I think it's far more likely the sun is the culprit, since the sun is the one thing both planets have in common. Unless...perhaps...Frank Herbert and others weren't writing science fiction at all, but were part of a vast, interplanetary, hot-wing conspiracy.
Nah. The idea that the ordinary doings of mankind are going to have that much impact on an entire planet seems to define hubris. Or so I thought. But as I drove home today, I passed a windmill. And something started nagging at me.
Windmills, as we all know, convert wind energy to mechanical energy which, in turn, generates electrical energy to power our espresso makers. And as any physics student will tell you, energy is neither created nor destroyed. Only converted from one form to another. Indeed, matter rocks, plants, you and I can be viewed as nothing more than trillions of bits of cohesive energy, but that's for another essay. The point is that all the windmills the environmentalists have caused to be installed over the years have been sucking up wind energy. Lots of it.
We've all experienced the wind's force. It can lift cars and cows and knock down trees and buildings. When it blows against my house, as it's doing as I write this, the wind pushes on it a little. But, since my house is anchored to the foundation, which is anchored to the earth, the energy of the push is transferred down to the earth. Multiply that by billions of buildings, trees, hills, mountains, even blades of grass, and it's easy to see the wind energy, which is generated in part by solar energy imbalances in the atmosphere, is pushing on the spinning earth, helping to keep it going, if only in a small way at any one moment
But scientists also say the earth's rate of rotation is slowing down. That's why they have to add extra seconds every few years to keep the clocks accurate. And it's true that there are other factors causing the rate at which the earth spins to slow down, but I have to wonder...
What if, by taking all that energy out of the wind energy that could have been pushing on the earth to help it keep spinning windmills are actually causing the earth to spin slower. Not by much. But, as the environmentalists like to say about anything they don't like, it doesn't take much. What if the earth is slowing just enough so that each spot is now getting more sun than it used to? More sun, more heat. More heat, global warming!
Imagine that! The tree-hugging, renewable-loving, progress hating enviro-pietists may be right after all. Man IS causing global warming. Only the guilty parties are the environmentalists themselves! Talk about irony!
Please understand this is only a theory, so don't tear open a package of unbleached writing paper and grab your vegetable-ink pen and start writing me nasty letters. This theory is as good as any the enviro folks try to foist off on the rest of us.
What you can do is prove me wrong. It shouldn't take more than a couple of years for you true believers to study the problem, take wind samples, construct computer simulations using satellite data, and make up whatever else you need to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that windmills are innocent. Why, I bet if you do a good job of it, Al Gore might even make another movie.
All I know is that until you people prove my theory wrong with years of accumulated data and independent analysis, I'm holding all environmentalists responsible for global warming.
By the way, why is it that with all this global warming making the earth hotter and hotter, my heating bill keeps going up each year?
Maybe you folks can study that, too.
Oliver Del Signore is a freelance writer, proofreader, creative consultant, website designer, and the webmaster for Backwoods Home Magazine. He welcomes comments and inquiries via email to firstname.lastname@example.org