How to Stop Climate Change

Someone born today in the United Kingdom will have a life expectancy which, during his or her lifetime, will probably be much more than 85 years. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 85 years is about the length of time that we must phase out fossil fuel burning if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change. We have, they think, a decent lifetime to provide lifetimes for the billions of people yet to be born. Continue reading

If you destroy life supporting forest you make death bringing smoke.

What happened to London in the 1950s is now happening in Singapore and Indonesia. Burning, in this case the illegal burning of tropical forest in order to clear the land, has created, as burning always creates, smoke and the smoke has settled in a haze around Singapore and parts of Indonesia. The governments of these nations have issued health warnings, recommended that people stay indoors and do not engage in heavy outdoor activity. Singapore is blaming Indonesia for failure to control and prevent the illegal burning of forest.

We need clean air to breathe. Everyone knows that and everyone mostly ignores that. The imperative of economic growth, the making of money and the belief that because nature provides resource humans can exploit it until that resource no longer exists prevails over the simple knowledge that we need to breathe clean air. If you burn life supporting forest you create death bringing smoke.

In places in Singapore and Indonesia the air quality is 371 on the pollution standards index.  The scale on the PSI ranges from perfectly clean air (0) to unhealthy (+200) through hazardous (+300). The air quality is Singapore is now worse than hazardous. PSI levels above 400 will be life-threatening to ill and elderly persons. And healthy people may experience adverse symptoms that prevent them from living their lives as normal. Older folk may remember the song, written about a different kind of smoke, but just as relevant.

Purple haze all in my eyes

Don’t know if it’s day or night

You’ve got me blowin, blowin my mind

Is it tomorrow or just the end of time?

Even if the haze clears rapidly, the particulates in the atmosphere will add to global dimming and to the Asian Brown Cloud.

North of the chemical equator

If you live in the northern hemisphere, and most people do, you will be breathing a different and poorer quality of air than if you live in the southern hemisphere. Researchers from the University of York have found that roughly coincident with the equator (but not completely) there is another imaginary line – a chemical equator – which divides air with poor quality in the north from air with better quality in the south. This is probably the only north-south divide that favours the south. Continue reading