Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Brief and Simple Thoughts on Climate Change

We are probably all sick of hearing about Climate Change, but the sickest thing of all is our resistance to the science  of Climate Change when it doesn't fit with our preconceived ideas. Being a simple soul at heart, I want to write about this topic both briefly and simply so that almost anyone can get it in a few short minutes.

Climate Change, it's not a new topic. We knew about this issue 30 years ago — at least I and my senior students did. Since then, there's been much burying of the nations' heads. I include Canada, which under of former government, led the world in head-burying.

The science is very simple, at least if ordinary plods such as myself keep it that way.

Simply put: natural CO2 and other gases along with clouds in the atmosphere are what heat us up by retaining heat before it can eventually escape into space. When we add tons and tons of CO2, we trap more heat in the atmosphere for longer before it is lost into the great beyond. It's not a difficult concept.

I liken it to switching from a sheet to a blanket on a cool night. In itself, the blanket is no warmer than the sheet, but it sure is better at holding the heat in. It is our own retained heat that keeps us warm. If we get too warm we kick off a covering layer to cool down. We now need to kick off the extra covering that we are putting into the atmosphere.

The following graph shows that we have much more CO2 in the atmosphere than we have had for 400 000 years, and it is indisputable that we pump billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. Yes, billions.  (link)

     from Wikipedia                      

As a result, temperatures have already increased by about 1.53°F (0.85ºC) from 1880 to 2012.

The deniers like to say that the climate has always changed, alternating between warm and cool periods.

Well yes, but if you track those changes in the same time period (400 000 years) as the chart above, it always gets warmer when CO2 levels increase. And humans are increasing the CO2 levels beyond the rise that we should normally expect in this natural warming cycle. The other point is that in natural circumstances the increase takes place over thousands of year not in a hundred years or so, which is what is happening now.

The last spike in CO2 and temperatures occurred about 120 000 years ago (see graph, above) and seems to have lasted for perhaps 40 000 years. This caused much glacial melting and a rise in sea levels. Sea levels are presently rising again.

When the seas rose back then, we didn't have many millions or people living on low lying coastal plains. In fact, there were no people to speak of. If sea levels rise dramatically now, it won't be good for New York or Florida or The Netherlands or Bangladesh and so on. You get the idea.

Climate Change is not a figment of someone's imagination but is based on a convergence of all sorts of observational data. This is called consilience as data from "pollen, tree rings, ice cores, corals, glacial and polar ice-cap melt, sea-level rise, ecological shifts, carbon dioxide increases, the unprecedented rate of temperature increase" (link) all support human-induced Climate Change.

And that, folks, is my short and simple foray into the realm of science, except to say that, according to surveys, this science is supported by 97% of scientists in this field, and it also seems that many of the 3% happen to have a vested interest in denying that there is a problem.



14 comments:

ADRIAN said...

You are quite right bt America and China are now responsible. We pay $10US a gallon for gas. Try living with that.

Marie Smith said...

Prince Edward Island will be submerged. Our granddaughters' home will disappear. Whatever the medicine we need to take to slow this disaster, we need to take it now. It will be bitter pills I fear but we have no choice.

Country Gal said...

I remember being in school 30 years ago talking about the future climate change and to this day believe it is happening faster then we would like , I have always been connected to nature and its weather / climate mainly from being a former farmer and I can say I have noticed my self more so over the past 10 years how our climate / weather has changed right here in Ontario and how all the animals now react to it all through migration or there lack of now ! Great post thanks for sharing , Have a good day !

troutbirder said...

We done and explained AC. I believe the regular supporters of Trump and watcherd of Fix News in the U.S. though would have trouble following your line of reasoning due to their intelligence deficit.

Lorna said...

Thanks, I know I've heard this for a long time, but it's not sticking because of the callous use of "CO2", which never morphs into anything recognizable by me, and I assume, by my ilk.

Did I tell you I have a new and unimproved blog? Can't remember anything except the title She's BAAAAAAAAAACK, and I can't remember how many As I included.

Should Fish More said...

I wish it were as easy as this, you explaining it in terms we can all understand. Which you did very well.
But it's been explained before, and ignored before. And denied. As GOP candidates have repeatedly told us, honesty is unnecessary in formulating opinions, and truth is nothing needing attention. In fact, truth and honesty are what ever we want them to be, just repeat them often enough, they are true.
Not sure what science can do other than what they are doing, present the truth for examination. Listen to peers, reevaluate and confirm or deny findings.

Vicki Lane said...

I've been aware of this for years -- I only wish our politicians would pull their heads out of their donors' pockets and admit the problem. And then start making some difficult decisions.

Excellent post, AC!

Mage said...

You have it in a nutshell. Thanks.

Tabor said...

You must have been an excellent teacher as this explains it far better than I or others I do think that some people think it is in God's hands or that it is too expensive to take action. They have dug in their heels and nothing can convince them otherwise.

Shammickite said...

It's happening, very plain to see. And we have to stop it, or at least show it down. Great explanation, I hope it's clear to the world that we have to act together. And not just hope that someone else will do it.

Geezers said...

YOu realize, of course, that common sense or logic makes no difference to the deniers, right?

Hilary said...

Very well explained, Teach! I hope that our new PM will take a serious stand. Time will tell..

Donna said...

Ouch...what troutbirder said...sigh.....
Have a happy weekend Ac...
hughugs

EG CameraGirl said...

I'm hoping people are FINALLY listening.