A more scientific look at climate change and global warming along with its effects.
The Effects of global warming which is causing climate changes
- Melting of significant land ice masses like those on Greenland and Antarctica, snow capped mountains and glaciers around the world are all accelerating. It has recently been announced that the sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean has smashed the previous record minimum extent set in 2007 by a staggering 18 percent. Most of the Arctic Ice cap is expected to have melted by the end of this century which ill bring big climate change/ albido effect changes.Himalaya glaciers currently provide more than half of the drinking water for 40% of the worlds population via Asian rivers. This could become a massive problem over the next century.
- There have been enormous temperature increases over the last 5 years. The average Earth temperature is increasing. There are some colder years due to natural fluctuations but the overall temperature increase is now accelerating. 21 of the hottest years have now taken please within the last 25 years. In 2003 Europe suffered a massive heat wave in which 26,000 people died, the European continent reached temperatures in excess of 106 deg F. The UK temperature record was broken in Aug 2003 – 38.5 deg C, Faversham, Kent. In 2005 most American mid-west cities hit new record temperatures. June-july 2013 was the longest heat wave in Britain since 2006. In 2004 Egypt reached the hottest temperature ever recorded – 123.8 deg F.
- Ocean temperatures are following the same global warming trends. As the oceans get warmer huge storms get stronger and more frequent. In 2005 an MIT report confirmed that the power of Atlantic and Pacific storms is now 50% stronger then they were in the 1970’s. In 2004 Florida was hit by 4 unusually powerful hurricanes. In 2004, Japan set an all time record and was hit by 7 Typhoons; 10 Typhoons hit Japan in 2005. In the spring of 2006 Australia was hit by a massive category 5 cyclone much stronger than usual. 2004 saw the first ever south Atlantic hurricane which hit Brazil. In 2004 the all time records for tornadoes was broken in the United states. In 2005 the USA was hit by record breaking hurricanes; hurricane Dennis in July 2005 caused huge damage to Gulf of Mexico oil platforms. Then in August 2005 the massive hurricane Katrina hit Florida as a category 1 storm causing over $1 Billion worth of damage, Katrina then regained power of the Gulf of Mexico hitting New Orleans as a category 5 storm with devastating effect. Three weeks after Katrina, Hurricane Rita hit which became the strongest hurricane ever measured, then one week later hurricane Wilma hit, then for the first time ever the USA weather authorities ran out of names. During the rest of this year, hurricanes continued to hit until December which is well past the end of the hurricane season.
- 2005 Europe as hit by extensive flooding. Mumbai India received a record breaking 37 inches of rain in 24 hours, July 2005, the higher ever rainfall in the area. Similar record flooding also took place in area of China
- The famous Okavango Delta in Africa, essential for bringing life sustaining water to so much wildlife in this area could loose one third of its water. In the Sudan and Malawi regions of Africa 5 million people faced starvation in 2005 when crops failed and the rains never came.
- Overall there are now 20% more rains globally but at the same time some areas of the world are now suffering more frequent droughts. Morocco, Tunisia and Libya are all loosing 250,000 acres per year to the Sahara desert. 2007 was the wettest summer on record in the UK. Claims for storms and flood damage doubled in the 5 years to 2003.
- As global warming increases the temperature in the atmosphere, this in turn extracts more moisture from the soil. This leads to increased global desertification which was claiming 624 square miles per year in the 1970’s, 840 square miles per year in the 1980’s and 1400 square miles per year in the 1990’s globally is lost to desert.
- Artic ice thickness measurements taken by the US Army have shown a dramatic record of rapid melting since the 1970’s.
- Due to the rapid changes in climate around the world, insect species are now starting to thrive in warmer climates where they were not previously found. For example, this can cause reduced crop yields, pine beetle attack to North American pine trees as the beetles are no longer killed off over the winter and mosquitoes which carry disease become more abundant and at higher altitudes. On the flip side, many species are dying off where the climate in their current range is no longer suitable for their requirements.
- The overall biological productivity of the planet is decreasing due to climate change. Global warming ultimately gives lower crop/ food production and with rapidly increasing global population means food shortage will become more common. More C02 in the atmosphere does encourage plant growth by around 8% but the hotter climates mean more droughts. The overall effect is less crop growth
- 1 in 5 species of animals and plants could be extinct by the end of this century. If nothing is done, up to one third of all species which currently exist will be committed to extinction.
- We are now facing a mass extinction crisis with loss of species now 1000 times higher than the normal background rate. In 2005, globally the hottest year on record, there was massive loss of corals throughout the world. In 1998, the second hottest year on record research has shown that an estimated 16% of all corals throughout the world died off causing coral bleaching. Coral bleaching is where the colourful zooxanthellae inside coral polyps die leaving the white calcium carbonate skeleton behind. All of the colourful fish which depend on that coral reef for their survival then more away from that area or die. Coral bleaching caused by global warming was considered to be controversial only 15-20 years ago but is now universally accepted throughout the scientific community. One Third of all CO2 in the atmosphere is absorbed by the oceans which causes an increase in their acidity also contributing to species extinction and coral bleaching. If nothing is done to prevent global warming and there is a doubling of CO2 in the earths atmosphere, within 45 years there will no longer be any optimal parts of the oceans for corals to survive leading to mass extinction of ocean species depending on coral reefs. A recent convention on the health of the Great Barrier Reef concluded that a 1degC temperature increase would see 82% coral bleaching, 2decC increase 97degC and 3degC increase means total destruction. We are currently at 1.13 deg F (approx 0.65 deg C). The oceans take about 30 years to catch up with CO2 accumulated in the atmosphere therefore it is likely that 80% of corals will now die.
- In late 1978, the late glaciologist John Mercer predicted a dangerous warming trend in Antarctica would be seen by the break up of ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula. In 1989, 1995, 1998 and 2005 saw massive ice shelves break off each the size equivalent to the whole of Greater London inside the M25. The Larson Ice Shelf which broke off in 2002 was huge. In early 2002 before this ice shelf broke off satellite images saw dark pools of water collecting on the surface of the ice. This massive ice shelf broke off on the 31st January 2002. To the shock of scientists it, completely broke up and melted within 35 days. In has since been discovered that the dark pools signify concentrations of melt water which creates moulin’s (shafts) and tunnels throughout the ice creating a Swiss cheese effect. This in turns helps the rapid break-up of large ice masses once afloat in the ocean.
- A recent NASA study has found that Antarctica is melting as a much faster rate than normal, loosing land ice at a rate of 31 billion tonnes of water per year.
- Global warming cause’s expansion of the water in the oceans which combined with melting ice masses means rising sea levels. Over the next 100 years there is expected to be between 20cm to 1M of sea level rise, 10-43cm of this caused by expansion of the water, the rest caused by melting land based ice. In 100-200 years time there could be 3 – 6M rise in sea levels. In 2000 years earth could be ice free which means 70 metre higher sea levels. When the Thames barrier was built in 1984 it was closed 1-2 times per year. In 2003 the Thames Barrier was closed 14 times. Scientists have calculated that if half of the Greenland Ice mass melted and half of the East Antarctic ice mass melted then sea levels would rise by 5.5 – 6 metre globally. If this happened then maps of the world would need to be re-drawn, much of Florida would be submerged along with the whole of the Maldives Islands in the Indian ocean, large areas of the Netherlands, 20 million people around Beijing and 40 million people Shanghai would have to be relocated. In India near Bangladesh around 60 million people would be displaced. It seems inevitable that within the next 100 years half a million people living on the sovereign atoll nations which are on average only seven feet above sea level (Tuvalu, Kiribati, Maldives, Marshall Islands) will be destroyed by climate change. A NASA study has shown that ice mass melting is now 150% above average levels. Satellite images now show many more dark pools of water gathering on the surface of the Greenland Ice mass, just like those seen on the surface of the Antarctic Larson B ice shelf prior to it rapid break-up in 2002.
- Another side effect of global warming is increased wild fires. Warmer air produces more lightening. In 1980 there were 10 major wild fires in North and South America. In the 1990’s there were more than 50 major wild fires which all contribute to rising CO2 levels themselves. The same pattern is occurring in other countries throughout the world.
- Scientists now believe that we are now entering a new geological Era which is being caused by human activities and the generation of CO2. Geological Era can last for many millions of years so for humans to create a new Era is a very significant change in earth climate and species diversity.
- Climate change caused by CO2 release is increasing with population increase. The year 1900 started with 1 Billion people on Earth, the century closed in 2000 with 6 billion people. Scientists have calculated that 1986 was the maximum sustainable earth population of 5 billion whom can live off the available land areas for crop growth and use of Earths resources. We are now in environmental deficit by over fishing the oceans; over grazing pasture until it becomes desert; destroying forests; and polluting our oceans and atmosphere. By 2050 when Earths population is expected to reach 9 Billion we will be using nearly two planets worth of resources.
- The Golden Toad, Monte Verde, Costa Rica was the first documented species extinction caused by global warming, lost in 1989. This extinction was caused by changed local climate causing loss of the moisture bringing mists high up on these mountains.
- UK climate change as predicted by the world renowned Hadley Centre in Exeter, UK. The wet summer of 2004 made hey making difficult to impossible in some regions. UK Climate change caused by Global Warming means 20% more rainfall, more frequent heat waves, more severe winter storms, 60% less snow in Scotland, 30% more winter rain and 1 in 3 very dry summers.
- Global Dimming is a term associated with climate change and is caused by atmospheric pollutants derived from coal burning, cars emissions, and increase dust from regional dryer conditions.
- Across the world there are unprecedented droughts in one area and intense rainfalls in others. The malaria parasite will spread due to increased warmth and mosquito range exposing ten’s of thousands.
- USA and Australia are currently two of the worst affected countries by Climate Change. Ironic seeing as these are the two countries which are the highest CO2 emitters and both have not yet ratified the Kyoto protocol.
- Potential catastrophic effects of climate change; 1, Collapse of the gulf stream which has a 5-10% probability of the next century; 2, Collapse of the Amazon rainforest due to warming and loss of rainfall to the region, this in turn leads to a massive C02 release due to soil decomposition and would result in a huge positive feedback effect to climate change. The world renown Hadley Centre in the UK predicts this could start to happen around 2040; 3, Rise of the clathrates which is trapped ice and methane from deep the ocean which would accelerate global warming.
- The US government agency, the National Climatic Data Centre list 17 weather events from 1998 to 2002 which cost greater then $1Billion each which include droughts, floods, fires, tropical storms, tornadoes, hail storms, heat waves and hurricanes. The most expensive was the 2002 drought which is estimated to have cost the US economy $10 billion. Properties in Florida now have a $100,000 deductive off the total insurance claim for weather related damage. The world’s largest re-insurance company estimates that by 2050 the global insurance bill for climate change related damage could top $500 billion.
- Mankind now has to power to decide the fate of the whole planet and human civilisation. Whether we allow the temperature of Earth to rise by 1 degree of 5 degrees will decide the fate of hundreds of thousands of species and most likely millions of people. Never in the history of humanity has here been a cost benefit analysis that demands greater scrutiny – Tim Flannery 2006.
- If we humans continue business as usual over the first half of this century, human health, water and food security will all be under threat and the collapse of human civilisation due to climate change will become inevitable – Tim Flannery 2006
- In the end – the environmental budget is the only one that actually counts
- We may have only 5 years to avoid the tipping point. We cannot wait another 30 years.
What is being done to combat climate change.In Europe targets have been set to reduce CO2 emissions from 1990 levels by 80% by 2050. Governments will face significant penalties if these targets are not met.
The majority of countries have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, all except for Australia and the United Stated.
Global legislation/ C02 control is possible. Control of atmospheric gases has been done in the past with the Montreal Protocol when scientists realised that CFC’s were causing the ozone layer hole. The ozone layer prevents most of the UV radiation from the sun getting to Earth’s surface. No ozone layer means widespread skin cancer.
The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change is now responsible for monitoring the situation. The reports they produce are reliable and based on the current science.
Some fossil fuel companies are moving in the right direction. BP has been one of the biggest providers of Solar PV Panels but now appear to be moving more towards wind power and bio fuels, 2013.
Denmark gets 21% of its electricity from wind generation (2006). 85% of its wind turbines are owned by individuals or wind co-operatives. In the UK the average turbine operates a 28% of its capacity over the year.
Solar thermal power plants are being developed that generate heat and electricity.
Solar PV panels are becoming more ready available with prices falling all the time. Solar PV panels are guaranteed for 25 years but most will last up to 40 years.
The Basic Science of Global Warming caused Climate Change
There is now no double in the scientific community that mankind is causing global warming and the subsequent climate change is taking place
Without quick action, the consequences for our planetary home could become irreversible. This is now a planetary emergency, Al Gore.
- Mankind has increased Carbon Dioxide gases (CO2) in the atmosphere well above natural variation levels. CO2 is the most important of the greenhouse gases.
- Global warming is taking place because the suns energy hits the earth in the form of light waves and infra red radiation. Normally some of this energy is reflected back into space but CO2 gas build up is trapping more and more heat. This has be known since 1977. There are also other greenhouse gases which cause global warming.
- CO2 makes up 80% of greenhouse gas emissions. CO2 comes from buring fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal to heat and generate electricity for our homes and offices, also from manufacturing, cars making cement can cutting down of forests.
- Other greenhouse gases come from gases like methane. 60% of all methane come from landfill sites, livestock farming, fossil fuel burning and wastewater treatment. We have also caused a 17% increase in nitrous oxide. HFC and CFC gases are also greenhouse gases. There is also PFC’s and sulphur hexafluoride. Water vapour which increases with global warming also traps heat from the sun.
- Actual CO2 levels. Pre-industrial CO2 was 280 parts per million (PPM) about 150 years ago. In 2005 CO2 is now at 381 PPM. If we continues business as usual the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere will double in less than 50 years to around 600 ppm.
- Scientist professor Ravelle realised in the 1960’s that the post world war 2 economic expansion and population growth was likely to give an unprecedented and dangerous increase of CO2 levels in Earths atmosphere. Ravelle also saw that the oceans also absorb some the CO2.
- According to Arctic ice core samples, at no point in the past 650,000 years did the CO2 levels in earths atmosphere go above 300ppm. We are now approaching 400ppm, in 45 years we could be at 600ppm if nothing is done. None of these dates, facts or figures are disputed by anybody.
- The melting Artic ice cap will speed up global warming as less heat from the sun is reflected by the white ice but instead will be absorbed by the Arctic Ocean. Melting of the Artic ice cap would profoundly change the entire climate pattern around Earth. The current distribution of heat from the warm equator to the cold poles drives Earths climate pattern like the Gulf Stream. These same climate patters have been around for the last 10,000 years since the last ice age. Every farm, town city around the planet is based on current climate patterns. Disturbing these climate patters could have incalculable circumstances for the whole of civilisation and yet the climate crisis is giving potential to do just that.
- Global climate changes are not seen year and year but happen in jerks and because of the atmospheres telekinetic nature these changes will manifest themselves across the globe.
- The average world wide temperature is about 58 degF. Global warming is on track to give a 5 degree average temperature increase with nothing is done. This increase would be more like 2degF increase at the poles but a 12 degF increase at the equator.
- One of the most fragile parts of the Earths climate pattern is the Gulf Stream which brings warmth from the mid eastern Atlantic to northern Europe. 10,000 years ago after the last ice age melting fresh water from the North American Great Lakes flooded out into the Atlantic along the St Lawrence river. This disrupting the thermo-haline currents in the Atlantic causing the Gulf Stream to virtually switch off, this then plunges Europe into a longer ice age the rest of the world for another 900-1000 years. Some scientists are no very concerned that this could start to happen again due to melting ice from Greenland.
Why are Global Warming and Climate Change happening now?
This is a unprecedented and massive collision between civilisation and Earth for the following reasons:-
- The world population explosion, people are living longer. In the year 0 AD the world population was quarter of a Billion, there were 1 Billion in 1776, 2 Billion in 1945 at the time of the 2nd world war and now 6.5 billion. By 2030 there could be 9 Billion – that is from 2 billion to 9 billion within one lifetime. Many of the developed nations can put a huge strain on Earths natural resources unless effective energy management and recycling can be developed.
- The scientific and technical revolution. We used to plough fields with horses but now we use huge machines which each release large quantities of CO2 whilst they are built and each using thousands of tonnes of resources for their construction. The same machines continue to release CO2 by burning oil through use of petrol or diesel. Global warming may seem slow over one persons lifetime but in the context of Earths history it is happening at lightening speed.
- There is now 0% disagreement with the scientific evidence of Global Warming. The misconception that there is disagreement between scientist over Global Warming but this is part of a dis-information campaign by Oil and Coal companies who’s business relies on the massive unrestrained dumping of CO2 into the atmosphere. Some of this dis-information was created by the American Government during the Bush administration where it has been proven that insiders were deliberately removing all references to Global Warming to deny its existence.
- Our belief that we have to choose between a health economy and a health environment. We must use market capitalism to screw business as usual. Business leads must factor in the environment. Poor leaders suffer from shortermisme and quick return whilst clever investors are now interested in the longer term environmentally friendly options. Geoffrey Emmult, the CEO of the GE Electric, one of the biggest electrical manufacturers in the world said, ‘here at GE we think green means green. This is a time period where environmental improvement is going to lead towards profitability’.
- People can have the dangerous misconception that if Global Warming is so dangerous as scientist say then, we throw up our hands and feel hopeless to do anything about it. Everybody has to be part of the solution. It is possible to make the changes, for example a 1 mega watt wind farm is equal to 50,000 tonnes of coal burning each year and can power 24000 homes. There is carbon released during the construction of wind farms but then they are all clean power generation for their 25 year plus lifetime, by the main structural components we expected to last much longer. We have access to all the technologies now to reduce carbon emissions to 1970’s levels. Primarily we have to 1, become more energy efficient, improve automatic efficiency, improve transport efficiency, use more renewable power generation, capture and store carbon released from current power plants.
Why are people so resistant to Climate Change action (Al Gore)
- People don’t want to believe in Global Warming, especially businesses and industry. They consider it to be an inconvenient truth which means people will have to make changes, turn down the thermostat, change the light bulbs and us renewable fuels.
- As of 2003, all USA government policies were ignoring the scientific evidence of Global Warming. There has been much corruption in the USA and Australian governments by the energy sector and coal mining companies to promote the burning of coal. In the US the Bush administration was the worst. The worst group disagreeing with climate change was the Global Climate Coalition (GCC) in existence from 1989 to 2002 who’s purpose was to cast doubt on global warming theory. The GCC was made up of 50 oil, gas, auto and chemical industries and made $60M in US government donations but collapsed in 2002 after overwhelming evidence from the IPCC supporting climate change.
- Governments are often too busy fire fighting their own local and economy associated problems. Private sector business is often in the best position to take the lead on preventing climate change.
- Climate Change Disinformation campaigns by companies must stop. In 2003 companies in the USA were spending $1M per year in desperation to stop any action against climate change.
Everyone must act now, don’t feel overwhelmed by the challenge, make the changes, get politically involved and educate everyone you know to do the right thing.
Professor Roger Ravelle
Thomson and Sons Ice core samples
Al Gore – Earth in the Balance
Al Gore – an Inconvenient Truth