Is global warming for real?

I doubt that I?m going to take much pleasure in writing this opinion piece. I?d about rather have to run laps bare foot on the gravel lot behind the Free Press.

But, ouch, here goes, that big question of our times: Is global warming for real?

Well, June, July and August probably are for real, and from past history and all weather knowledge, we can be assured they?ll most likely be hot weather months…hopefully, also with adequate rain for the new crops of grain and hay.

After all, sorghum and corn like 90-degree heat as long as they can get adequate moisture with it.

From personal experience I can tell you they like another thing that generally isn?t credited. They like a lot of carbon dioxide, the gas exhaust of combustion and respiration that also can help hold in heat on this planet.

I was an agricultural staff research writer as a graduate student at the University of Missouri in Columbia in 1968. One of my first stories there, written as a university release for newspapers and magazines, was on research with pumps and pipelines feeding large amounts of carbon dioxide into an experiment station corn field to see if it increased grain yield.

It did, and by big margins, but it wasn?t a cost-effective thing for a farmer to do.

But another conclusion was impossible to ignore: The more carbon dioxide you fed into a corn field, at least up to a point, given adequate other fertility and water, the more oxygen the corn released back into the atmosphere through photosynthesis.

Later, in the early 1970s as a writer for the Topeka Capital-Journal, I talked to a man who was the originator of a theory of cyclic drought, roughly seven-year cycles, that occurred because of periodic sun-spot peak activity.

I?m sorry, but I?ve dug back through my own records and done some research, but I can?t find his name. People tended to be amused at his theory at the time, but now there is wide recognition that his idea is correct.

In later historical research, I learned the Vikings settled Greenland during the ?200-year warm period? of climactic change on earth in historical times when oak forest replaced spruce forest in Norway as a result.

This was followed with a global cool-down beginning with many Vikings starving or leaving Greenland. It culminated with our own historic picture of Washington crossing the Dela?ware through the ice flows?somewhat accurate for his time, but by my understanding, a freezing event that no longer occurs because of warming throughout United States history.

So, I?m wondering, what else is correct? Is global warming because of human activity burning fuels correct, or is it all part of cycles that happen over hundreds of years?

In May, a huge sunspot 60,000 miles across and unleashing powerful solar flares erupted on the sun, sending massive solar energy through the solar system, according to the National Aero?nautics and Space Administra?tion.

Our planet moved right along even with this energy release, but how did it affect us? How will this cycle of increased energy release continue to affect us until in the sun?s periodicity, things settle down again?

According to NASA, this solar storm is of the most powerful categories that can make bigger northern lights displays that can be seen further south than normal. I remember watching the northern lights at night from our yard near Topeka when I was a child.

NASA says this sun activity is part of a continuing series, with more than 30 solar flares released so far, that is expected to peak in 2013. The agency also says this is part of normal 11-year solar cycles, the same idea the man presented to me in the 1970s.

So, what are my conclusions after all of these rambling thoughts to do with personal history and current happenings?

I think we don?t know the final results of what we do, and how much those results are dwarfed by the much larger activities of the forces around us. It looks like we may be in for some cyclic dry years.

We can only try to clean up our atmospheric activities to reduce warming, reduce pollution, plant trees in our cities, plant more green growing things for oxygen release at every opportunity, and pray for the grace of a benevolent God.

Never has it been more apparent that we are charged with the stewardship of this world.

This column was first published June 2012.