February 16, 2009 Rotogram

ANOTHER LOOK AT ENERGY

Today will be the third in a series of discussions focused on the problems of the world’s increasing energy demands and global warming. Our guest is Glenn Steele, Director of Mississippi State University’s Energy Institute.

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

Next Monday, our guest will be Cathy Green, Director of the MSU Early Childhood Institute. She’ll tell us about the multi-disciplinary program established 10 years ago in the College of Education to provide training, assistance, and research to improve early childhood education in the state.

LAST WEEK AT ROTARY

Attendance: There were 113 members (79 actives and 34 exempt) present, and 64 (57 actives, 21 exempt, and all 9 honorary) members absent.

Invocation and Pledge: Bob Whiteside.

Visitors and Guests: Visiting Rotarian was Eddie Longstreet of West Point. Member guests were Domenico “Mimmo” Parisi of Mo Netadj, and former member Eric Hallberg of Larry Mullins. Club guests were Taka Sato (RYE Student), Jarred Reneau (Ambassadorial Scholar), Matthew Rye (Starkville Parks & Recreation Deparment), and Paul Sims (Starkville Daily News).

New Member: Rodney Foil was welcomed as the Club’s newest member. The MSU Vice President Emeritus really isn’t “new.”  He was a member of the Club from 1969-1973…we’re happy he’s back among us.  Roy Ruby is his sponsor.

Makeups: Scott Dodd and Andy Gaston made up in West Point.  Ned Browning and Betty Black were credited with makeups for attending the Board of Directors meeting.

Meeting Notes: President ChipTempleton expressed the condolences of all Rotarians to Betty Black, whose mother died last week.

Loren Zimmerman thanked Rotarians for support of the rodeo through advance ticket sales and volunteering to help. The rodeo  has a record 317 contestants and was able to start and finish performances both nights with the ever-popular bull riding competition. More details next week.

A last-minute call for nominations for awards was issued by Ed Clynch and his awards committee.

A meeting of the Food and Facilities Committee (Dave Boles, Chm) was held after adjournment of Rotary. Officers and Directors were reminded of the monthly Board Meeting (Feb. 10 at Harvey’s).

Rotary $$ for Parks and Rec: Jeff Read reminded members that our Club had provided $15,000 for construction of three new fields when the Sportsplex was built 10 years ago. The Club will provide $5,000 over the next 3 years to update and maintain the T-Ball field at McKee Park. He presented a check covering this year’s payment to Matthew Rye of the Parks and Recreation Department.

Rotary Minute: Tommy Prentice gave an enthusiastic Rotary minute focusing on our club’s involvement in international service and the possibility of even greater service through Rotary Foundation Matching Grants.  An example might be putting a grant together to help recovery in Costa Rica from a 6.9 earthquake that had devastated  an area Tommy had visited.

CLIMATE CHANGE AND GLOBAL WARMING

Roger King’s presentation “Climate Change and Global Warming 101″ seemed more like an advanced physics class to many of his listeners. Using a PowerPoint collection of facts and graphs, the former chief technologist for NASA Earth Science said “we need a scientific understanding (of the concerns) that drive political actions.”

King pointed out that there is conclusive evidence that the Earth’s temperature changes are cyclical in nature, have been occurring since the Earth was formed, and the current global warming trend is natural. On the other hand, it is also obvious that population growth and human activity influence the natural cycle.

“In 2003, population of the U.S. was approximately 293 million and global population was in the neighborhood of 6.2 billion. Last week, U.S. population was 305 million and global population topped 6.75 billion.” He said that the world’s human population is projected to grow from 6 billion in 1999 to more than 8 billion by 2025.

Gases in Earth’s atmosphere behave like a greenhouse. “Greenhouse gases are a positive thing,” King pointed out.  The “ozone layer” creates the greenhouse effect that keeps our planet warm and sustains life. Without greenhouse gases, life could not exist. It’s important that the sun’s energy is absorbed rather than reflected back into space.

Gases that don’t respond physically or chemically to temperature change are the ones of concern in global warming. He said that gases like water vapor are seen as “feedbacks” and those like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s) are “forcing” gases. He noted that several years ago,  the use of CFC’s as propellants (in products like Right Guard) was terminated or significantly reduced resulting in a noticeable reduction in the size of the hole in the ozone layer that was of major concern.

Reduction in methane in the atmosphere is more problematic since rice fields of the Far East are far greater contributors than coal-fired power plants and rice is a staple food in those developing nations.

The industrial age has resulted in the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to rise to the highest level in 650,000 years. Obviously, this is a major concern and scientists are keeping an eye on it with  monitors all around the globe.

He said the concern about the melting of polar ice is not ill advised. Liquid expands as it heats up so a rise in sea level is a natural result of widespread melting of the ice cap. Probably estimates of how much the oceans will rise are over-stated, but are still of a concern. Definite changes in the ice mass are underway, but an advantage is that this has opened up polar routes for sea-borne transportation.

In summary, King said that nations all over the world are spending billions of dollars and scientists are trying to determine what’s happening and what if anything can be done to control climate change and global warming.

“We still are unable to know if what’s happening is cyclical or attributed to what we’re doing to our planet.” One thing is certain, there is no single thing controlling the system. Aided by NASA’s ability to view the Earth from space, scientists will continue to look closely at global changes. A  real issue now is trying to determine what will happen as  Earth becomes more populated and developing nations become more modernized and industrialized .

When asked if former VP Al Gore’s dire predictions are on target, King said he hadn’t read Gore’s book or seen the movie, but he suspects they are likely more political than scientific.

The concern over global warming , climate change, and energy will certainly continue to  be on the front burner of all nations in years ahead.

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