Is the climate changing? The truth about climate change is that the climate is changing, and has been constantly changing since the planet was first formed. Sometimes, the changes come swiftly in planetary terms and sometimes the changes take eons. But the climate is always changing, so let's put that discussion to rest.

Next, how and why does the climate change? Climate is affected by the activity of the sun, by the tilt and rotation of the planet, and by the wobble of the planet on its axis as it orbits the sun, all of which are semi-predictable but erratic. In addition, there are factors related to the planet itself besides just its movements.

There is the shifting of the tectonic plates, which float above the magma beneath, and which bump and grind against each other constantly. Along the edges of those plates, magma erupts, flows out as lava, and volcanos are formed. There are shifts and variations in the magnetic fields that surround the planet, causing the planet to act as a variable magnet. These things all contribute more to climate change than man ever could, short of destroying the planet.

The eruption of a single volcano like Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, or Mount St. Helens in Washington state, spews more carbon and hydrocarbons into the atmosphere than man has in his entire existence to date. There are clear signs in both the extreme Arctic and extreme Antarctic that they both were at one time covered by tropical forests, as was the Sahara Desert in North Africa and the Gobi Desert in China.

Did man cause those changes? Not likely. There is clear evidence the ocean levels were at one time so low that people could walk to North America from Asia across the Northern Pacific Ocean, where now are the Aleutian Islands. There is also clear evidence that glaciers have more than once covered North America to the Gulf of Mexico, and that the peaks of the Rocky Mountains were once sea bottoms. Was man responsible for that? Don't be silly.

In fact, the Earth has been in a semi-constant warming trend since the end of the last Ice Age, which was about 50,000 years ago. The glaciers have been retreating for that entire time, and the sea levels have been rising slowly but steadily, as well. If you consider geologic time, 50,000 years is a very short time, and this warming trend may continue for another 50,000 or more, or less.

Like I said, there are so many variables that affect the climate, it can only be predicted generally, not specifically. That's why those who claim the end is coming if we don't stop using hydrocarbons today are morons - as are those who sing that everything's fine, the skies are blue and the oceans are, too. We can't do much to affect the climate, but we can do much to not live like hogs in a wallow and to clean up after ourselves. And you can just march up to your room and clean up that pigsty right now! And yes, I'm talking to you!

Dr. Jonathan C. Jobe, of Crescent Valley, is a retired educator and a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.

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