Andrew has been writing for decades, publishing articles online and in print. His many interests include literature, the arts, and nature.
Global Warming=Climate Change + ?
Climate change and global warming go hand in hand. According to the experts, they are both real, caused by humans, and there is no scam involved. But, according to other experts, they are not really caused by human acitivity, they are part of a natural cycle. Who is correct? Who is wrong?
The Earth, according to most scientists who study these things, is getting warmer due to greenhouse gas caused mostly by the burning of fossil fuels. Some ocean temperatures are rising, causing massive ice melt.
I'm no expert, I'm not a businessperson or a scientist, I have no vested interests in the planet save for my own family and their future. I'm just your average Joe trying to get a handle on this contentious issue. Is climate change for real? I want to try and answer this very important question.
Recently an important figure was reached by the Earth. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere went over 400ppm (parts per million). Scientists say that the safe threshold for a stable planet is 350ppm.
So, have we entered an unsafe period for our beloved planet, our home?
If all the figures are true it seems we've come to a cross-roads. One road leads to a positive future, the other into the unknown. Humankind cannot continue along the same path seems to be the message here. There has to be change, and quick. But just what are the changes needed for the future to be secured?
In this article I want to look at all the arguments, try to make sense of the statistics and come to a conclusion on whether it's too late to do anything about climate change. or not.
Climate Change and Opinion
If you go online and look up climate change you'll be immediately confronted with a number of arguments. When you boil them all down you're left with 3 basic assumptions :
1. reasons not to believe in climate change
2. reasons to believe
3. reasons to be disinterested in the whole idea
So, just how do people arrive at these assumptions?
Well, there are those who believe that climate change (and global warming) is nothing but a hoax, a scam, developed by an alliance of scientists, lefties, greens and animal lovers who want to 'do good' and take the moral high ground. The climate change denier is sometimes seen as an ignoramus or someone paid by the fossil fuel companies to spread disinformation.
The climate change cultists, so called, are keen to present evidence, both scientific and historical, into the public domain for scrutiny. They then remain committed to the cause even if this evidence is refuted or challenged.
Meanwhile, as the argument rages between sceptics and believers, those without a care in the world declare 'OK, so the planet's warming up, there are palm trees growing in the Arctic, a lake has appeared at the bottom of my garden, giant jellyfish live next door. My new job is jellyfish counsellor. Live with it. This is the new normal. Things are beyond our control. Stop fretting humans!!'
The concept of the greenhouse gas effect was first thought of by Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenis (1859 - 1927) who said that burning fossil fuels would give rise to global warming. Greenhouse gases are cause by:
- burning fossil fuels.
- agriculture and deforestation.
- manufacture of cement, chemicals and metal.
The following bullet points might help to simplify what is a complex and difficult subject.
- The average global temperature of the planet has gone up by 0.89 degrees C from 1901 to 2012.(UK Met Office)
- The constant burning of fossils fuels and other organic material has led to an increase in CO2.
- The rise in temperature has also led to the release of methane trapped in previously frozen earth. Warming of the oceans has also led to an increase in water vapour.
- CO2, water vapour and methane lead to the greenhouse effect.
- Deforestation and soil erosion exacerbate the problems.
- If you heat up a system - planet Earth - that system will become more unstable.
The Media and Big Business
As you'd expect there are some wild claims and counter-claims out there in media land. Climate change and global warming are fertile grounds for the purveyors of propaganda! For every report on the potential dangers of rapid climate change there's an article telling of conspiracy and even the benefits of global warming.
Big business - those giant corporations who produce oil, coal, metals and cement - obviously want the whole subject of climate change brushed under the carpet. Any wonder they aren't saying much!
Some are coming round to the idea that we can't continue to spew carbon dioxide out into the atmosphere willy-nilly without some damage to the environment. And some are even turning their attention (and dollars) to greener, more sustainable models for the long term.
But will this change in attitude be too little too late?
So, when you see an article titled 'The Net Benefits of Global Warming' be certain to check out the author and their pile of shares in a big fat corporate manufacturing giant.
Top 10 Countries - CO2 Emissions
|Country||CO2 Emissions Total||CO2 Emissions per Person|
Extreme Weather - Extreme Opinion
Here are some of the quotes and comments I've seen, paraphrased.
Global warming and climate change means more hurricanes, and they are signs of the devil.
God will help us if we help ourselves. Floods are part of the whole bible story.
It's Mother Nature. She's angry. Stuff happens.
Hillbillies care not a cent. It's money, then Jesus, then science for them. If you're lucky.
Our weather is being manipulated. By the Russians and the Chinese.
Fasten your seatbelts and don your helmets, hell is coming for breakfast.
Republican=climate change deniers Democrat=doom mongers.
Climate scientists invent statistics and then controversy in order to obtain future funding.
Not doing anything about climate change will cost us 44 trillion dollar (Citibank,USA)
The Left wants the death of Capitalism, climate change is their last chance to kill the monster.
....read chapter 7 of Mark Levin's Plunder and Deceit...climate change is false. End of.
Who Measures the Global Temperature?
For the average person in the street, myself included, being told that global temperatures are rising on an unprecedented scale is a fact we just have to believe, right? The scientists who present this data have to be trusted, and the instruments they take the data from we assume are accurate?
Having done a little research it seems there are 4 major sources for this data:
- UK Met Office Hadley Centre and University of East Anglia Climactic Research Unit produce HadCRUT4
- USA NASA Goddard Institute for Space Sciences produce GISTEMP
- USA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration produce MLOST
- Japan Meterological Agency produce JMA
Their work has resulted in the often disputed fact that global temperatures are rising. Fast.
Two Scientific Graphs - What Do They Tell Us?
The first graph comes from the four official collectors of global temperature and shows a definite upward trend over the last 135 years. For anomalies, that is, temperature above the agreed norm. If we trust the source then the lines are pretty clear - temperatures rising!
The second shows the global temperatures over roughly a 20 year period. This graph is showing us that the global mean temperature change during this time reflects no global warming, or, more importantly, a pause in global warming.
Consequences of Climate Change for the USA
Scientists are coming to the conclusion that global climate change is happening and that weather patterns and other phenomena will differ from region to region. Find out more about what may happen in the USA.
More Information on Climate Change
Over the past ten years or so many countries have produced scientific documents backing the need for action because of climate change. Here are three of the most influential:
5 Reasons to Believe in Climate Change
- The surface temperature of the planet has risen dramatically over the past 100 years, since industrialisation. Human activity has caused this.
- It's best to act now just in case. We don't want to leave the oceans full of acid, large areas of nothing but desert and no strategy for future generations.
- Look at the plight of the polar bear. Arctic ice is melting at a rapid rate and they need ice to hunt for seals otherwise they die.
- In many areas around the world extreme weather has caused havoc for communities large and small. Think about tsunamis, droughts, wildfires and massive storms. The signs are obvious.
- The negative consequences for the planet and humankind if we don't do something positive right now will be dire.
5 Reasons to Be Indifferent
- Over 2 billion poor people in China and other developing nations will want to drive a big car in a few years time. Try telling them to cut down on energy! Politely request they ban consumerism or else the planet will die.
- Carbon dioxide emissions will increase over the next decade or so, perhaps longer. Nothing can stop that. Mitigate the outcomes.
- All this scientific evidence - it's neither right nor wrong. It's all down to natural variations. You can base an opinion on natural variations but what's the point?
- The weather's calm. The news is good. My salary just increased. What's the problem?
- Perhaps God or the powers that be will sort it out - one way or the other?
5 Reasons to Be a Climate Change Denier
- Climate change models are wrong. History shows that the planet goes through both warming and cooling cycles.
- Scientific consensus is not proof of climate change. Just because a bunch of scientists agree on certain things doesn't mean they are true. Past theories have been proven wrong .
- Predictions made by climate change advocates some years ago have not manifested.
- Arctic ice volume has actually increased since 2012.
- Measurement of global warming has shown no increase since 1997.
Tipping Point - 2 degreesC
If the global temperature can be kept to 2 degreesC or less this could mean -
- severe storms and droughts, extremes of rain, seasonal upset.
- seas become more acidic, coral and krill die off, food chains disrupted.
- little or no Arctic summer ice.
If the global temperature rises above 2 degreesC this could mean -
- rainforests start to die off.
- ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica begin to melt
- sea levels rise unpredictably.
Climate change is a serious issue, no doubt, but it's a big challenge intellectually to grasp the idea that the planet is under threat. From a personal point of view I have no concrete evidence of global warming, only anecdotal - are autumns longer and warmer and winters shorter?
Where I live, in Yorkshire in the north of the UK, things seem pretty much the same - pasturelands, rolling hills and woods, dales and rivers and dry stone walls. Cows feeding on grass, birds singing. The essential fabric hasn't altered in any way.
And yet. If I check online for climate change in Yorkshire I see that record temperatures have been achieved in certain months over the last 15 years or so. Floods due to excessive bursts of rain have hit certain areas like never before.
There are now official Climate Change Risk Assessments for Yorkshire (and all of the UK) and government information about global warming and its consequences. No doubt, similar warnings are being published in many parts of the world.
I'd be irresponsible if I didn't think something potentially threatening could happen if global temperatures and fossil fuel burning continues unchecked.
And, I don't think climate change and global warming are hoaxes, I think they're real. So, what steps to take next?
© 2015 Andrew Spacey
Jay C OBrien from Houston, TX USA on January 01, 2018:
The climate of the earth has changed many times over millions of years. We have even had major extinction events. Regardless of the causes of climate change we should move toward, "Sustainable Population." There is no reason to have 6 billion or more people on the earth. Why not have 1 billion or fewer and be able to feed the people?
Sustainable Population can be achieved by teaching Birth Control methods. See Link.
Andrew Spacey (author) from Sheffield, UK on December 05, 2017:
Yes, we seem to be approaching crunch time - over emphasis on growth at all costs is alarming, whilst not enough is being done to deal with waste and pollution AND population growth. Plastics in the ocean is a huge concern. We need solutions and quick. In the past, climate change happened at its own pace and we were unaware or not around - we humans are now speeding it up no doubt. Time to act.
Verlie Burroughs from Canada on December 05, 2017:
Andrew, I was happy to see you've found Patrick Moore, he is very convincing, although his stance is not popular, as it's associated with the whole 'climate change denier' side of the argument. The man-made messes on our planet are cause for alarm. We have reduced air quality in some locations to the point where millions of people cannot breath, cannot go outdoors. Even if this has nothing to do with 'climate change' it's still happening, and needs to be addressed. Oceans and rivers are becoming too polluted to sustain life, due to human activity. What difference does it make what we call it. Solutions still need to be found. Great article. Thanks.
Andrew Spacey (author) from Sheffield, UK on November 24, 2015:
Hey, thanks for the visit and comment Bill, appreciated. The overall picture is still unclear but by at least meeting up country by country and agreeing on common goals we're moving in the right direction.
Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on November 24, 2015:
Very interesting article Andrew. If all of the statistics are accurate it would appear that the planet is changing. Even here in New England we have noticed a change in our weather patterns and we have seen some of the warmest months and years on record recently. Is this just a normal cycle? Personally I don't think so. I think we are putting the health of our home at risk for future generations. I sure hope mankind does the right thing, just in case.
Andrew Spacey (author) from Sheffield, UK on November 23, 2015:
I appreciate your visit and interesting comment Genna. The latest figures seem to show that CO2 is now 412ppm in the atmosphere and rising. Not good. If the Paris Summit can gain agreement from all the major players there could be a chance of keeping the temperature at 3degreesC or under by the end of the century! I would like an agreement to be made in Paris.
Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on November 23, 2015:
Excellent article, Chef. My Dad was an environmental scientist and research biologist. He and his colleagues were warning about climate change/warming due to the burning of fossil fuels and carbon emissions decades ago. Whether part of this is due to a cyclical change, it has become more than apparent that we are prodding it forward with a huge stick of ever-increasing carbon emissions. I agree with you and Jodah, wholeheartedly. Some countries have become almost energy independent by utilizing renewable sources of energy, not burgeoning our planet or destroying ecosystems and using up our natural resources. My Dad said, "They won't do anything about it until it's too late." I worry about the earth and environmental conditions our grandchildren's children will inherit.
Andrew Spacey (author) from Sheffield, UK on November 23, 2015:
All things considered I agree with you Jodah.
I did a lot of reading - I'm sure you have too - on predictions, doomsday scenarios, temperature measurements, the loss of Arctic ice, weather trends and so on. There's just so much information, too much, it's virtually impossible to know everything about this subject!! I wrote the hub to try and get a grasp of things as they stand. What sealed it for me is the temperature rise. Most scientists agree that global warming is happening. That's now verified. If we can keep it to 2 degreesC we have a chance to slow things down a bit. Now it's up to the politicians to act impartially.
It's better to do something now, no matter how small an act or deed, to offset the amount of fossil fuel burning.
Keep up the good work and all the best to you and the farmyard.
John Hansen from Australia (Gondwana Land) on November 23, 2015:
Chef, I have been concerned about climate change and the future of a planet since reading a book by David Suzuki 20 years ago, predicting we had ten years to do something to turn it around. Well that period has come and gone and it is already predicted at the present rate that global temperatures are almost certain to increase by more than 2 degrees in the foreseeable future.
The thing is, even if climate change is not due to man's overuse of fossil fuels etc, isn't it better than take action and err on the side of caution and reduce carbon emissions, utilize renewable energy etc? It will be better for the health of the planet and all living things anyway. I'd rather do that than stick my head in the sand and just leave it up to fate.
Very good and unbiased hub.