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Dr Pat AbbottPat Abbot Professor Emeritus of Geology at San Diego State University Department of Geological Sciences speaks with Craig about Climate, Global Warming and What Geology tells us.

– Climate and change go together. Climate changes on every time scale from millions of years to thousands to decades, etc.
– Many people do not understand the difference between climate and weather. Weather is day-to-day and is always changing. For some odd reason, every heat wave or cold spell is seen by some folks as unusual, a rarity, unexpected, and other such silliness.
– The current topic of global warming is definitely worth understanding.
– The global scientific community is overwhelming agreed that average annual surface temperature on the Earth is the warmest it has been in over one thousand years.
– Some of the scientists most vocal about global warming not being real are ignoring facts to focus on a personally favored view; some of them are doing it for publicity and/or to gain more funding.
– At present, the Earth is undergoing a natural warming, but piggybacked on top of this trend is an even greater amount of warming due to human activities.
– Carbon dioxide additions to the atmosphere have accelerated as we have burned ever more oil, natural gas, coal and wood. The expected greenhouse warming is actually less than it ought to be. The dominant thought now is that the excess heat is being stored in the ocean and thus much of our excess will be dealt with by future generations.
– It has long been popular to state that the US is the main producer of CO2. However, in a matter of months China will pass us up.
– The much argued Kyoto Treaty exempts “developing” countries from greenhouse gas restrictions. China and India are near the top of the list of CO2 emitters but are not required to do anything. Is Kyoto really about climate?
– The biggest part of the problem is the one not talked about anymore — the explosive growth in the human population — it reached 3 billion in 1960, 4 in 1974, 5 in 1987, 6 in 1999, and has now passed 6.6.billion. About 30% of the world population is below the age of 15 and has not yet done their breeding. The soaring population will all use energy thus adding to global warming.
– Other gases also add to the greenhouse effect. For example, methane (CH4). Humans release CH4 via rice production and cattle raising (>1 billion cows now). Methane is 21 times as potent as CO2 as a greenhouse gas.-
– World population and energy usage both are on unstoppable growth trends. Thus global warming will increase. The big worries are not how the rising temperatures affect us directly but how they change rainfall and agriculture.
– It sure would be nice if technologists could figure out a way to make CO2 capture into a profitable business. I have more confidence in technological creativity than in the abilities of the world’s political leaders and bodies.

Pat Abbott
Professor Emeritus of Geology at San Diego State University
Department of Geological Sciences

Author of textbook Natural Disasters (6th ed.) published by McGraw-Hill.