Sunday, 5 February 2012

Global Climate ...

Is obviously up to something, but probably not what the Durban IPCC/Greenpeace bunfight attendees  think. I found this interesting blog post from some scientists which give a very interesting temperature curve picture - not showing warming, but the reverse. The satellite temperature recordings show a different pattern to the surface stations, most of which are in the middle of major urban areas, with a strong downward trend.

What it does show, as we in Germany shiver into a new week of Arctic temperatures, extremely dry air and no snow, Britain shivers and is buried in the stuff and Queensland contemplates yet more flooding, is that the global climate is far more complex than a few computer models can hope, with current technology, to capture. Add to this data indicators from other branches of science such as archaeology, solar studies, agricultural research and geology, and a rather interesting picture begins to emerge of changes in climmate on a cyclic basis over millenia. Yes, whole civilisations have vanished in the past as a result of climatic variability, but one of the more interesting bits of information coming from the wider research is the fact that CO2 actually stimulates plant growth and so do warmer temperatures. The keye element is, of course, water, and warmer temperatures actually increase rainfall by increasing evaporation. But then you have to throw in the recent paper from a group of scientists which suggests we're heading for a "Little Ice Age."

From where I sit, it would seem to me to be a good idea to learn to adapt. The current drive to reduce or technological dependence on hydro-carbons, coal and nuclear and rely on windmills - which are badly affected by ice and extreme weather - is an expensive diversion. We do need to find alternatives to our dependence on oil, if only because, at present, the West can be destroyed simply by cutting off our supplies from the Middle East. It would take time to arrange an alternative supply and, in the meantime, there would be enormous damage to economies and not a little hardship.

The more I read and study the science available about this latest "Doomsday" hysteria, the more I realise that it is actually masking quite a few much larger and perhaps as intractable problems which our politicians don't want to face.  One of them is population expansion. Why do natural events - which have been happening regularly since the dawn of time - now claim so many lives. The answer is, of course, that there are far, far more people now living in flood plains, coastal strips and other "at risk" areas than ever before. More paving means local heat islands, and it also means less absorption of rainfall and more run-off. More strip building along coastal plains, means more people at risk from a tsunami.

As the aristocratic Eastern European Meerkat says - "Simples."

I have a feeling the planet has its own agenda and we had better learn to adapt. Or at least remember how our forefathers coped because we can't stop the climate changing anymore than we can stop continental drift ...


  1. Well said. In my youth there was always talk of a mini ice-age, we hoped that glaciers would begin to return to some of Scotland's mountains, but somehow it didn't happen. In terms of pollution, if the smokescreen that the Victorians started and only Macmillan's "Clean Air Act" began to diminish didn't change the climate then how come our cleaner technologies are going to do it in minutes?

    I do however have two points; firstly, the USA is disgracefully profligate with natural resources and is also iresponsibly polluting, there I'm on the side of some of the pressure groups, clean it up US, you don't own the world, whatever you might think. Secondly, the number of exhaust pipes from vehicles has grown exponentially, but we can't see the smuts and muck any more... is this because modern diesel engines only emit micro-particles, the ones that give me and millions of others asthma attacks where it just used to make our hankies black in the "bad old days"? Ah well, off to light my coal fire and throw another log on the stove, while also burning fossil fuel in the central heating.

  2. Your first point is actually a little dated, the US is now less polluting than either India or China and car ownership in China makes everyone else look positively economic. I think the measure used of CO2 per head is positively unrealistic. It is also well out of date since it is based on figures extrapolated from numbers crunched in the 1970s and 80s. In defence of the US, their CO2 and SO2 output is more or less static, thanks largely to new technologies. The same has happened in Eastern and Central Europe with the closer of former communist factories and generating plants and their replacement with cleaner new technology. The problem is that there has also been an increase in both vehicle ownership and in energy use - but taking this into consideration blows holes in a number of popular "Green/Left" myths ...

  3. WELL the gray monk strikes again .As a recently converted exponent of 'Sod the planet' I am pleased to see that the current media and politically induced hysteria about the state of this 'third rock' has little to do with science - whatever. Having spent a life of 6 decades almost exclusively in the 'current' United Kingdom (northern hemisphere - just to the left of the Low Countries - I cannot pretend to have any massive input into the debate. After a few recent trips I am however able to say with some conviction that the planet looks pretty damn healthy from a few km up in a gas guzzler. Strangely beautiful as one looks down whilst fidgeting to fight off instant death (dvt) eating strange unwanted offerings of food - but of course taking part for cultural/boredom/getting a smile from another human being reasons. Anyway (the saga version of 'Whatever'!) I digress, the gray monk has hit it on the head - this is a journey and we haven’t been here before and the planet in all its glory, simplicity, beauty, complexity etc etc etc will do what it will - despite our (human) infection. Cheers!

  4. I would agree your figures except for one thing, the population of the US is concentrated in discrete pockets, the populations of China and India are massive and more generalised. The vast swathe of empty territory between NY & LA that its inhabitants call America is a dumping ground for some really nasty stuff and the home of mining of the worst sort for a variety of natural resources. The radiation produced by the off-casts of Oak Ridge alone make Japan's concerns over Fukushima Dai-Ichi seem like paranoia! One of the World's most advanced civilisations should have grown out of this sort of thing by now. (IMHO)

    (quote from "KnoxNews"; Oak Ridge is near Knoxville, Tennessee)
    So, what's in that plume of pollution? According to the Tennessee Dept. of Environment and Conservation (using data retrieved from the Oak Ridge Environmental Information System), these constituents have been found in the picket or sentinel wells near the edge of the federal reservation:
    1,4-dichlorobenzene, actinium-228, aluminum, antimony, barium, benzene, bismuth-214, boron, carbon disulfide, carbon-14, chloride, chloroethane, chloroform, chloromethane, chromium, fluoride, gross alpha, gross beta, lead, lithium, methylene chloride, molybdenum, lead-214, pH, potassium, radium-226, sodium, strontium-89, strontium-90, strontium, sulfate, tetrachloroethene, toulene, tritium, uranium, vanadium, xylene.

  5. I think it is fair to say that these issues can and must be dealt with, but they pale into perspective when the pollution being spewed out in China, India and other "developing" nations are exposed - usually when there has been a catastrophe. Personally I lost all confidence in Greenpeace and any of their so-called "science" and "scientists" after the Brent Spar lies and fabrications, and I've seen nothing since to change my view.

    The figures quoted are evidence of bad ecological management, but I would also suggest the only reason the UK is able to claim to be a "good" practitioner in these areas is because we have lost all our "heavy" industry and almost all our mining activity.