A Mildly Angry Rant on Climate Change.

Only the delusional among the human species would disagree with the concrete fact that the Earth’s changing climate is having a heavily negative impact on most aspects of life, which may be irreversible according to IPCC. And I state this as fact; just dig deep past the media sugar coating and read up some IPCC reports. You’ve really got to be open minded here. Sadly, far too many of the world’s leaders and politicians are reluctant to squeeze up a teaspoonful of brainjuice (and only in the odd case of such ability among most of the ‘big guys’, of course…) and see, for example, the effect that CO2 absorption into the oceans is having on the water acidity, disrupting marine lifeforms and destroying coral reefs, eroding some of the most powerful, natural forms of breakwater for the gorgeous beaches of the Maldives. Places where most of the filthy rich visit on the regular. Ah, tourism then begins to dwindle and all of a sudden, climate change is taken seriously. Why? Because homes of the world’s wealthiest percentile are subject to be gobbled up by the rising seas of Bermuda. Yeah, money talks.

theguardian.com credit: Dean Miller / Greenpeace
credit: Dean Miller / Greenpeace

And it angers me. It angers me so much that even though we are all aware of it, we barely ever do anything to change the situation. As was mentioned in one of my Climate Change lectures (a module which I am thoroughly enjoying, for its aspect of climate physics, with swirls of economical and social impacts, sprinkled with a dash of politics) – we are “lucky” to have a Tesco down the road to provide us with “fresh” fish, unlike some sub-Saharan countries where a rise in sea levels has the potential of destroying a whole food source.

Rising sea levels give me chills for a number of reasons. 75% of the observed rise has been contributed to by thermal expansion and glaciers melting. This means (a) less reflection of sunlight off the ice and back into space as total albedo decreases, hence (b) more sunlight absorption into the increased surface area of the oceans, therefore (c) further increase in temperature. This is an example of positive feedback, i.e the response to a primary change is a forcing which acts in the same direction as the change itself, which may create an imbalance. Negative feedback does the opposite: the secondary response acts in the opposite direction to the initial change, yearning to return to a state of equilibrium and balance. Which is what we want. Unfortunately, from all the complicated processes that not even the most experienced climate scientists can fully account for in their models, most of the figures that can be accounted for point to a somewhat skewed imbalance towards a positive feedback prevalence. This is not good news. And here is a 10-year-old’s presentation of a serious problem:

Handwavey Feedback Explanation
Handwavey Feedback Explanation


So. We all know it is happening. The IPCC are calling for immediate reduction in fossil fuel burning with their latest report.

Now either: the world gets their act together and does enough to stop the temperature from rising over 2 degrees by 2050; or… we keep on burnin’ that coal, shale gas and oil for cheap, cheap dirty energy. The real cost of life and nature doesn’t even matter while greed for dollars is the driving force behind most human actions today. “Human”.

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