What is climate change and what is causing it?
The definition of climate change is; a change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels.
There are both natural and human sources of carbon dioxide emissions. Natural sources include decomposition, ocean release and respiration. Human sources come from activities like cement production, deforestation as well as the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas. ( definitions from Google)
The graph below shows CO2 emissions for the years between 1973 and 2015 a period of just 42 years. We can see from that graph produced by Key World Energy Statistics that our carbon emissions have doubled in the past 42 years. We can see that China has increased its emissions from 5.7% to 28%
Blind Freddy can look at these statistics and see that we do have a serious problem. It is not sustainable for us to continue to spew carbon into the air we breathe and expect it not to have an effect.
The question still remains What can we as individuals do about it?
There are two causes of carbon emissions, one being natural such as the decomposition of biodegradable matter, the other is the burning of fossil fuels for our energy needs.
Most scientists think that recent warming can’t be explained by nature alone. Scientists agree that most of the warming we have seen over the past 100 years is due to the burning of coal, oil and gas. Burning these fuels releases heat-trapping gases, such as carbon dioxide, into the air. These gases are called greenhouse gases.
We cannot reduce the natural release of carbon dioxide but we can make every effort to reduce the green house gases by thinking more about the amount of fossil fuels we use. The more the population increases the more fuels we use, and the more we consume of the earths resources.
Population growth over time and its impact on climate
There are some interesting charts showing the exponential growth in population over the past 300 years, but I also came across a chart showing the worlds population prior to the big flood when most of the earths population was wiped out. This chart shows the worlds population has been higher than it is now. The difference is that the people living then did not fly around the world in huge aeroplanes, or drive around paved roads in fancy fuel guzzling cars, nor did they work in big industrial factories churning out volumes of toxic waste.
The graph to the right shows a sharp rise in population growth after 1950 where it grew from 3 billion to 7.6 billion. This can only be explained by the corresponding increase in hygiene and disease control. During this time we also saw the industrial revolution, and the agricultural revolution providing better means of transport and a more secure supply of food with better nutrition. We have also seen great advances in medical knowledge and with that , ways to treat peoples illnesses,thus prolonging life. However during the last 50+ years we have also had access to birth control which should have slowed growth so that leaves us with a question as to why such exponential growth over the last 50 years.
Before the Flood and after:
The graph below shows population variations pre and post flood. This is made credible because people lived longer prior to the flood and so population was only increasing for up to 900 years. There are varying opinions on the validity of the calculations but there is a mathematical formula for calculating growth over time given different variables.
It was said to me in conversation just this last weekend that the only way we can halt climate change is by culling the worlds population to a more sustainable level. I believe there is room on the earth for all of us if we can adapt to live more simply. It is not predicted that we will continue to see the rapid growth of the last 50 years , in fact it is determined that growth will plateau then decline. We have to create new ways to live the same way without the need for burning fossil fuels. We need to embrace new technologies such as solar and wind energy and be more thoughtful in the disposal of our waste matter. The old saying ” live simply so others may simply live” has real meaning if we are going to have a future on planet earth.
I am not concerned about the slight rise in global temperatures, (just 1 degree over the last 100 years) what is of more concern is the toxicity of our air and water. These we can and must do something about. Man is his own worst enemy. He creates all these wonderful things to improve our standard of life but in doing so threatens our very existence with the increased use of chemicals and fossil fuels.
We see more people with allergies than ever before, more people suffering from various forms of cancer and respiratory diseases than ever before and more mental illness than ever before.
Climate change is happening but we need to be more focused on the air we breathe and the water we drink.
Just this week in Australia we have been alarmed by the use of a very toxic fire retardant foam which has contaminated large areas of the country and the water for the people living in the communities affected.
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson:
Long before her time Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring which I read back in the 60’s. She warned us about the use of toxic chemicals in agriculture. We all need to read Rachels book again and heed the warnings.
Another very interesting demonstration of the rising levels of CO2 is clearly represented in this time line put out by NASA.
Have your say, share your thoughts and knowledge regarding the worlds climate and what we can or should be doing to address it.