2017-06-15 / Outdoors

Taking our temperature

Global warming is as real as global cooling. Official records are not that accurate as you go back in time. Actually, I should clarify this statement as well as correct it.

When humans started to use scientific instruments to record conditions on Earth, they were located around civilized society and centers of population. The history of devices used to measure temperature goes back to the early years of 10 (yes, 10) A.D. Experimentation with glass tubes and water, heat and cold resulted in a general finding that, as liquid heats up, it expands. The water-filled tube would show it was warmer as the water in the tube rose up. There were several dozen scientists, inventors, chemists and more working on an accurate way to record temperatures. This was a problem — there was no standardization.

In 1714, Dutch scientist and inventor Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit used mercury instead of water and proposed a temperature scale, which today bears his name. In 1742, Anders Celsius used a scale of known temperature results using zero degrees as the freezing point of water and 100 degrees as the boiling point. This resulted in a universal scale for accurate measurements throughout the world. So, accurate temperature recordings have only been around for a few hundred years.

Archaeologists use a technique called radiometric dating. In 1898, Marie Curie discovered the phenomenon of radioactivity where atoms lose energy as they decay, emitting radiation or electromagnetic pulses. In 1904, physicist Ernest Rutherford showed how this process could act like a clock to date old rocks and the Earth’s crust.

Satellite measurements of Earth’s temperature started in 1979. This is limited and based on blackbody radiation, so it needs thermometric instrument data based on the Earth’s surface. There have been several agencies recording Earth’s temperature over the past 150 years: NOAA, NASA and, in the United Kingdom, the Hadley Center for Climate Prediction and Research. Over the course of the last 50 years, a temperature rise of just less than one degree worldwide is recorded. No big deal — unless you think about ice. Thirty-two degrees, it’s solid, and you are good. Thirty-three degrees, and you swim.

Paleoclimatology is the study of temperature of our ancient Earth. There are a number of ways to do this — core samples of glaciers provide oxygen content and type at different levels. Information obtained about the earth, plants, rainfall and more can be dated back 800,000 years. Core samples of wood buried and preserved in the Earth’s crust also provide clues as to temperatures of our planet. Pollen, volcanic ash, sediment and rock formation and content give lots of information on climate change.

Is climate change real? Well, yes, but it is — and has been — naturally occurring since Earth began. Adaptation of all living species to climate is essential to survival. There are cold climate plants that can’t survive in heat, as well as tropical plants that would die out in colder, northern climes. Plants adapt to survive. Animals adapt to survive. Humans will also survive by adapting. Do human activities affect our climate? Yes — but so do all living things. Is it good to help by recycling and going green? Yes, it is. The survival of future generations depends on not only understanding but enjoying our great outdoors.

Fair winds; calm seas.

A special thank you

Nav-A-Gator’s 22nd Annual Cleanup collected more than two tons of trash and debris from the shores of the Peace River. A big thank-you to our patrons and neighbors as well as the Nav-A-Gator Boat Club. A shout out to Jerry York from the Charlotte Harbor Parrot Head Club for his help and to all the DeSoto County Chamber of Commerce members who pitched in to keep the Peace River pristine. Also thanks to the sponsors: Keep Charlotte Beautiful, Peace River Distributing and our biggest sponsor, Womack Sanitation. Thank you, Dennis, Nancy, Bethyl and the Nav-A-Gator crew! ¦

— Capt. Dennis Kirk has been traveling the Peace River since 1979. His life adventures are written from various chapters in his three decades of experience in Southwest Florida. He is part owner of the Nav-A-Gator, a riverfront restaurant and marina in Lake Suzy, just off Kings Highway. For more information, call 627- 3474.

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