Today’s Weather will be Tomorrow’s Climate

When I started writing essays about the environment, many years ago, I was always careful to point out the difference between climate and weather. Climate, like class in a sports person, is permanent. Weather is akin to form, a temporary phenomenon. As I write these words the United Kingdom is experiencing its hottest July ever recorded and will probably, before the day is out enjoy or suffer (as the case may be) its highest recorded temperature ever. This weather, of record heat, affects not only these islands but also Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands and many parts of the United States of America.

There have always been heat waves and always been extreme weather events but one of the predictions of scientists more than twenty years ago was that the effect of humans pouring more and more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere would result in more extreme weather events which would be more extreme and more frequent than the planet has previously experienced.

Predicting the future is usually unproductive because it is unreliable. However,  I shall try to do this, making a few uncontroversial (I hope) assumptions.

  • I assume that climate change is linked to an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide.
  • I assume that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide are mainly the result of human activity.
  • I assume that humanity will continue to increase the  proportion of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
  • I assume that humans will in the foreseeable future continue to procreate, continue to acquire more and more material possessions and continue to live longer lives.

With these assumptions I cannot see humanity being able to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide or even hold it to its present levels. I cannot see humanity occupying less of the planet or using less of its resources. I cannot see humanity carrying out a cull of its numbers. I cannot see those now living in luxury giving up that luxury or those living in deprived circumstances being willing to remain in such.

Things do not bode well for the future. The weather of today will be the climate of tomorrow.

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