Climate Change, Crimes of Violence and Wars

You can blame climate change for many things; poor crop yields, prevalence of forest fires, poor summers, cold winters, good summers, warm winters, migration of some species and extinction of others have all been blamed on a climate change. Recently climate change has been blamed for rising crime. Apparently, according to some scientists, there is a correlation between rising crime and climate change and between wars and climate change. Continue reading

Climate Change from idea to perception to almost truth

This is the third attempt that I have made to write an essay for today. At one time the previous two attempts would have reached the waste paper bin, but these days failed attempts are simply cremated before they are born. Continue reading

What is all the fuss about – carbon dioxide emissions by source – a very simple guide

It is very hard to be accurate because no one has a measuring stick that is large enough, by the planet earth is in a constant state of emitting carbon dioxide – from natural combustion, volcanoes, respiration of animals, land disturbance and by simple release from the oceans (which also absorb carbon dioxide). Mankind (or would it be more correct to say humanity) is responsible for somewhere between 3% and 5% of annual worldwide carbon dioxide emissions.

Why then, should we be worried about anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide which most scientists hold to blame for the rapid recent global warming and their expected future global warming? Continue reading

The Certainty of Our Changing Climate

Yesterday I wrote about floods and exceptional rainfall in the British Isles and in Russia. Today I suggest that we turn our attention to the drought that is affecting continental North America. More than half of the USA’s mainland is today in a state of moderate to extreme drought. The effect drought has been exacerbated by very hot temperatures and farmland has dried out, topsoil lost, crops decimated as 2011 was the hottest year in the USA since records began in 1895, and 2012 looks like equalling or surpassing last year’s record. Continue reading

The Simple Truth Lies

If I were a scientist specialising in climate change, I would be rather depressed about my work. It seems that hardly a week goes by when some journalist gets air time on a serious news programme to dismiss anthropogenic climate change as nonsense. This happened on Thursday when Melanie Phillips spoke on the BBC’s Question Time. Continue reading

Clean planet or dirty planet?

Humans have been on this planet long enough to change vast tracts of it and to influence change in almost every region of its surface. Humans have influenced a few miles above the surface of the earth and a few miles below it. The change the crust that they inhabit, and in that crust, the most important part of the planet to us where we are born and die, our changes have been planet changing, even though humans are such a relatively short lived and under developed species, with nothing to commend them but their ability to think and reason.

In my country, England, there is hardly a part of it that is within its natural state. The patchwork of typical English countryside, the hedges and fields, the winding road and the hills, have all been shaped by generations of cultivation. There is hardly a natural crop or animal to be found therein. The wilds of Scotland have been cultivated in their present form for the gentry. I could write about the changes humans have wrought on every corner of the planet.

In fact, taking the planet as a whole there is hardly a part of it that humans have not changed. I fear that by our pollution and insidious burning, particularly of fossil fuel, humans are changing the places where they do not live as well as those where they live. Deserts are becoming hotter, arctic ice is becoming less stable and melting, glaciers are mostly melting and wherever you look you can see the ugly footprint of humanity. 

In less than two hundred years humans changed the appearance of North America driving out indigenous plants and animals and those people who live there at harmony with their surroundings. If you fly over the United States at night you will see on the ground in a clear night hundreds of thousands of light, every one of then put there by humans and powered by the enterprise and will of humanity. You will today find the buffalo in zoos. The Native Americans, those that are left, have been herded onto reservations, and given the sop of running casinos as compensation for being subjected to a great genocide.

The Americans are no worse or no better than others; I could find such injustices in every part of the world where people live because most people want to dominate those that surround them and the environment in which they live.

In order to dominate humans must change the dominance of nature. Humans are very good at changing things. Unfortunately, they tend to confuse change and progress with improvements. Today in the United Kingdom’s General Election politicians are telling us we should vote for them because they will change things or vote for them because they will not change things. We should they argue either embrace change or be very frightened of it. Some changes are benign just as some things that stay the same can be malignant. Of all the changes that we welcome of fear the hardest to comprehend is the changes that will affect the fabric and structure of the crust of the planet upon which we live.

The changing climate has got to be our biggest fear. Of course anthropogenic climate change is not yet proven. I hope that some of the contributors to these pages are right when they do not intellectually accept the theory of anthropogenic climate change, but I fear they are wrong.

If we accept that anthropogenic climate change is true take all appropriate measures, and the theory turns out to be quite wrong (perhaps like the imposition of a no fly zone over northern Europe die to volcanic ash) then what have we lost?

Certainly energy costs will rise quickly but having risen they will stabilise as people learn to use renewable energy. High energy costs will not bankrupt humanity or make our life harder, just more harmonious with nature. The supplies of fuel on this planet are finite, but it seems the supply of humanity and economic growth is infinite. Taking up more renewable energy forms will sooner or later have to happen.

We will, in the course of taking environmental measures, create a cleaner planet; is that a bad thing? There will be far less smoke, far fewer particulates and much less pollution. Will we really miss the hazes over Los Angeles, Mexico City and Santiago do Chile, and the chemical smogs that sometimes come to harm us in other cities? Will we weep if we lose the Asian Brown Cloud?

If climate change poses no risk then certainly pollution and falling energy stocks do pose a risk. And anyway, should not we manage risks?

Some people point to the hundreds of millions spent each year on the IPCC, climate science, the Met Office and the like, none of which have proved terribly reliable in their predictions. However, that misses the point. For all this expenditure humanity is unwilling to change, as we saw in Copenhagen in December. Let us live with the fact that the science is too complex and stop expenditure on trying to decide just how hot or cold it will become. We should spend the money on measures. We will have nothing to lose but our pollution and we have a cleaner planet to gain.

Is climate change caused by human activity?

I set out my ideas about the world’s climate becoming warmer. The measurements show that this is happening, even though the measurements are incomplete, not well organized and there are anomalies. The best view of the measurements is that the planet is now warming at the rate of around a quarter to a half degree Celsius every decade. It also seems that the planet has (almost) never warmed so quickly. Continue reading