A winter snow storm hammered much of the Midwest and East Coast with a snowfall that reminded me of the 1960s. (Do you ever find yourself reminiscing about how it used to snow much more when you were a kid? Maybe it was because we were all shorter then.) Two weeks ago, no matter what your point of view, that was a boatload of snow.
How could global warming be anything but a nonsensical whim of a bunch of scientists who could just as easily create an argument and justify a federal grant to study apple pie?
IT IS THE CLIMATEYears ago, when I first started in HVAC, I recall some leaders of our industry dismissing the ideas of ozone depletion and global warming and thought to myself, “How could they be so blindly naïve, blatantly ignorant, or so selfishly biased toward their own agendas as to profess anything less than total support for our planet’s environment?” Yet, there I was two weeks ago, thigh-deep in snow with yet another inch of the white stuff piled up on the sidewalk I had just shoveled clean, swearing that global warming was a crock - until I came back to my senses a bit later while reading an editorial in the local paper.
A group of eight local meteorologists came to the same conclusion that I had. According to them, the weather changes were really no big deal. It will be cold one day, colder the day after, and things will warm up on the third day. It’s just weather, they said. It changes all the time. Nothing to get all worked up about.
But that’s where they are wrong - in addition to being wrong about the weather more than 50 percent of the time.
These meteorologists were confusing weather and climate. Sure, the weather changes in largely unpredictable ways. However, the climate of planet Earth can be scientifically measured, and although this has been done for only a relatively short period of time, it’s true that climate changes are occurring and that humankind has been contributing to global warming.
Would some of this climate change be occurring regardless of our increased carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere? Yes; climate varies naturally over both short and long time scales. But natural climate variability can be distinguished from human-caused climate change. Increases in human-produced greenhouse gases, such as those that result from combustion fuels, appear to be the dominant driver of climate change over the past few decades, according to the PEW Center on Global Climate Change.
What can an HVACR contractor do to alter the evolution of the planet? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s quite likely that nothing we do will produce any changes that our children will see in their lifetimes. But that’s not to say there won’t be results a little further down the road.
THE GOOD NEWSWe all have responsibilities to be good stewards of what we have been given, no matter which future generation might reap the benefits of our stewardship. Many of you, and more of your customers, are becoming aware of sustainable building, a.k.a. green building practices. You may already properly dispose of recyclables in your own home and business, and you may be using recycled products. You may be carpooling to work or working from home on some days to conserve energy. Those personal efforts are certainly a testimony to your concern for the welfare of those who will come after you.
What about the equipment you sell and install?
High-efficiency equipment does more than lower utility bills for your customers. It actually helps to reduce the total carbon emissions which contribute to global warming - emissions generated from the power plants that create the energy that runs the equipment you install and service. There is more than one reason to suggest to your customers that high-efficiency equipment is a good solution.
The next time you are tempted to think that global warming is just a hoax, remember that you are not responsible for the weather, but you are responsible for the climate in more ways than one.
Publication date: 03/05/2007