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What is Climate Change?

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 April 2017 08:50


Climate change is a natural phenomenon, which continually occurs on our planet. It can be a gradual or a sudden process. What is discussed in the newspapers is the climate change associated with humanities use of fossil fuels .....

When burned fossil fuels emit the gas carbon dioxide and in turn the carbon dioxide acts to trap the heat in Earths atmosphere in much the same way that heat is trapped in a greenhouse, hence the name the “greenhouse effect”

cold lager in the sun

We burn fossil fuels to provide energy for transport, heating, electricity, agriculture and many other things. The problem for our planet is that the rate of carbon dioxide emission from burning these fuels is greater then the rate that the planet can reabsorb it, as a consequence the greenhouse effect increases and the planet warms. It has happened naturally before but it took thousands of years, humanity is achieving the same results in just over 100 years and the consequences will be more turbulent weather, crop failure, sea level rises, mass extinction and inevitably famine as agriculture fails. On the plus side there may be more excuses for a cold lager in the sun.

Some with business interests in oil gas and coal deny that human induced climate change exits at all, but the vast majority of qualified climatologists agree that it is happening and accelerating.


Many governments are now looking to ways to support their energy needs without fossil fuels using renewable energy solutions. Whilst this is good, on a global scale as the use of renewable energy increases so does the use of fossil fuels, we are actually burning twice the amount of fossil fuels that we did 30 years ago. The availability of cheap energy drives population increase and in turn increased populations require more energy. It is simply not possible to deny the world population energy without causing famine. Governments increasingly face the choice of using renewable energies and their populations living in poverty or the use of fossil fuels.


Without radical change over the next 30 years we will burn even more fossil fuel than we do now, even though we will make increasing use of renewable energies. Very few national governments will risk their economies or the wrath of their voters and lobby groups by removing their source of cheap energy. Even immediate advances in technologies like Nuclear Fusion are unlikely to propagate across the planet fast enough to substitute for fossil fuels use.

Until sensible solutions are delivered should we mitigate the effect of increases carbon dioxide levels, by removing it upon power generation perhaps by chemically removing it from the atmosphere or more radically by partially screening the planet from the sun? What is possible, what is the scale of the problem?

 

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