Friday, June 25, 2021

When Blue Skies are 'Too Blue': Reprint

The Pandemic has given all of us some time to reflect and in doing so, some interesting questions have popped up. Now 10 weeks into researching and writing a book on nutrition and human health, I noticed the extremely blue skies during a slightly volatile winter.  The sky was just "too blue" for early March and it made me wary.  Blue skies belong in deserts not East Coast rural farmland. Was I finally losing my perspective after a year at home or is this nagging feeling that something is wrong worth looking into?

I suppose I started noticing the sky after my granddaughter was born. Always fascinated by clouds and stars myself, I hoped that she would come to Grammie's and sit on the back stoop and imagine what the clouds were.  But as i dreamt of those days, I got a funny feeling that might never be possible.  I hadn't seen actual CLOUDS in a while--you know, the kind that move across the sky and blot out the sun for a few brief moments only to travel on as quickly as they had come. Regardless of what the weather predicted, the skies here were overcast or completely clear.  The few times that the fluffy, white variety made an appearance, they were low on the horizon and never high up in the sky.  What had happened to the clouds that I knew as a child?  What did that mean for the long summer ahead?  What did it mean for the environment that depended on them? 

I had stopped listening to the panicked news reports of greenhouse gases causing global warming a long time ago.  I did not doubt there was something out there that was wrong with the environment but I knew carbon dioxide gas was not the cause of the heat wave that would hit every July nor did it keep my car windows from icing over for several months in the winter. 

 My education as a kid had been a good one.  As a child of the Space Race when the term STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) was first coined, a good understanding of science was one thing I had been given.  Following that with a college education that included physical science, sociology, psychology, microbiology and human growth and development, I knew the mass of a carbon dioxide atom  was not large enough to hold heat for very long.  To further punctuate the misguided nature of greenhouse gases, conduction of heat required sustained contact between molecules  and gas molecules did not touch each other often enough or long enough to do that.    As a farmer/ gardener, I had experienced the difference between soil temperature and air temperature every March.  Planting could start when soil temperatures reached 55 degrees even when air temperatures were much lower.  The sun warmed the Earth, not carbon based gases.

But if greenhouse gases weren't destroying the clouds as computer models said so, what was causing this phenomenon.  More importantly, why did no one realize that without clouds, the suns rays would not be reflected back into space where such radiation could do little harm. 

Surely, science had not become that ingrained into computers that people did not realize that clouds had a vitally important role in redistributing moisture and minerals around the globe.  As beautiful as they are, clouds perform a major cleaning process in the environment by taking high concentrations of mineral compounds (gaseous) and with water as a kind of glue, returning them to farmland and vegetation far away from where cities produce the nasty smog.  

As I was pondering the science that was so simply taught to me in elementary school, I wondered if people understood why greenhouse gas theory was wrong and why blue skies were not a good thing to have.  It had been fifty years since the Clean Air Act of 1970 was passed, had they been taught something different than what I had been taught? 

I gave one more look into the bright blue and cold Spring sky and realized this was a concept I needed to research further.  What had happened to the clouds? And sadly, why was noone concerned about their disappearance? 


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