Thomas L. Petty, M.D.

Professor of Medicine, 
University of Colorado

Chairman, National Lung Health Education Program (NLHEP)

Global Warming

May 2001
Second Wind
Lomita, California

  Dear Friends:

  The issue of global warming is again in the press. Global warming and cooling have existed since the beginnings of geological time. Global cooling created the Ice Ages. Lots of ancient animals became trapped in the advancing ice flows. Cyclical global warming caused the glacial masses in North America and Europe to recede. Today, geologists and archeologists are studying the historical events which were mummified in the "flash/freezing" of the old mammalian ancestors and ancient forests, during the various cooling cycles.

  Today, the threat of new global warming is widely touted by the press. Unfortunately, these alarming reports never admit that cyclical global warming and cooling have been present since God created the universe and the Earth. Now, we hear that carbon dioxide emissions will accelerate global warming. Carbon dioxide control is now a political issue. Too bad the politicians are not informed enough to understand that carbon dioxide has always been present in the environment. Any-thing that burns, such as forest fires, creates carbon dioxide. In addition, we all exhale carbon dioxide, of course, in our daily lives.

  Here is the bottom line. Carbon dioxide is normal in the environment. It is required by plants to produce oxygen. But, it could be that carbon dioxide is now being produced at a higher rate than ever before; too much for normal recycling. Scientists are using computer models to predict what will happen in 30 years. Yet, forecasters of the weather can't predict major storms 30 days in advance. My advice is to cool the rhetoric, and stick to the facts based on solid observations. Global warming and cooling are normal events in geologic evolution, but it is possible that we could be altering the delicate balance of cooling and warming in bygone eras.

  I will be in touch next month.

  Your friend,

  Thomas Petty, MD

Published: Jan 31 2002