"It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it".
Some loud voices are saying that we have been misled into believing that human activities will cause the earth’s atmosphere to warm up, with potentially dangerous effects on the climate and life support systems, and that we should not rush into remedial action. They are helped by the usual reluctance of responsible scientists to make categorical statements in the absence of demonstrable proof. However, we have been warned that "if we wait until we are sure, it will be too late!". Scientists such as those on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) appointed by the United Nations Environmental Programme, endorse this advice. They are aware that the situation may develop suddenly – so, why then the opposition?
The Greenhouse Effect
The Sun, which is the Earth’s only external form of heat, emits solar radiation mainly in the form of visible and ultraviolet (UV) radiation. As this radiation travels toward the Earth, 25% of it is absorbed by the atmosphere and 25% is reflected by the clouds back into space. The remaining radiation travels unimpeded to the Earth and heats its surface. Greenhouse gases like water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide trap the infrared radiation emitted by the Earth’s surface. The atmosphere acts like the glass in a greenhouse, allowing short-wave UV radiation to travel through relatively unimpeded, but trapping some of the long-wave IR radiation which is trying to escape. This process makes the temperature rise in the atmosphere just as it does in the greenhouse. This is the Earth’s natural greenhouse effect and keeps the Earth 33°C warmer than it would be without an atmosphere, at an average 15°C. Increasing the concentrations of the greenhouse gases traps more terrestrial radiation in the lower atmosphere (troposphere), enhancing the natural greenhouse effect. The "enhanced" greenhouse effect is the direct result of human activities. Processes such as the burning of fossil fuels, industrial operations and forest clearing increase carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere. Chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, are also potent greenhouse gases, and as an added danger, they also destroy the stratospheric ozone layer. Scientists call this trapping of infrared radiation in the lower atmosphere radiative forcing.
Globally 1998 was the warmest year ever recorded and eight of the ten warmest years fell in the last decade. Global ice sheets have decreased, so has global snow cover. During the earth’s history there have been warmer periods, millions of years ago. However this is the most rapid rise in temperature since the end of the last ice age. So evidence is mounting that we, mankind are affecting the global climate, and the current warming has exceeded the natural fluctuations. *
Has the increase in the enhanced greenhouse effect, due to the higher atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, caused a global rise in temperature? According to surface measurements the Earth has warmed by between 0.4 and 0.8°C during the last century.
Remember this data is collected from trees, the earth and ice cores. Its not a second guess – its FACT.
Future Climate Change
According to current projections global temperature may stand as much 5.8°C above the 1990 temperature by the year 2100. To place this change in climate in context, the temperature rise that brought the planet out of the most recent ice age was only of the order of 4 to 5°C. Carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere are already higher than at any time during the last 160,000 years. If concentrations continue to rise, the Earth’s temperature may become warmer than at any time during the last 40 million years.
If such a rise in global temperature occurs, sea levels will rise in response to both thermal expansion of the (warmer) oceans and melting of land-based ice sheets. The rapidity of the temperature rise will mean that many ecosystems will find it hard to adapt and many animal and plant species will become extinct.
Humans, too, will face difficulties.
The average global temperature may rise by between 1.4°C and 5.8°C over the next 100 years. This may not sound like very much but the average global temperature during the last ice age was only 5°C less than it is today! This will release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The overall effect could be a loss of carbon dioxide sinks so less carbon dioxide could be removed from the atmosphere. [And this could lead to even more climate change]. Also many different species would lose their habitats and may become extinct. Many of the rain forests and tropical grasslands in South America and southern Africa could die, but more forests may grow in North America, northern Asia and China.
As the United Kingdom gets warmer over the next 100 years the temperature in summer, as far north as the Lake District, will rise to be the same as it is on the South Coast of England today. The South Coast will take on a Mediterranean climate. It will get drier which could mean that there will be more droughts. The north and west may get even wetter and there could be more storms and floods. Animals and plants may not be able to cope with the rising temperature. More species will become extinct.
WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP REDUCE THIS TREND?
Well you can play at being an ostrich, stick your head in the sand and live in denial – until its too late that is. "It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it".
There are lies, bloody lies and statistics. Sure trends happen…the climate changes – but not at the accelerating pace it has done over the last one hundred years.
Some people out there will deny the facts,[$] water down the facts, or when it suits there purpose ignore them completely. I will remind you dear reader that the Tobacco industry used these professional deniers to ridicule what has now been incontrovertably proved – cigarette smoking is bad for your health and will kill you. In the many power stations where I worked the dangers of asbestos were denied. The manufacturers of pollution will, as the tobacco and asbestos industries did, tell you everything is honky dorey. Well it is nt.
Ignore the statistics – just take a look around you. Acid rain is killing the trees in the pine and deciduous forests. Less snow for a shorter time on the mountains? Lake and river levels not as high? Here 20 years ago January heralded snow – now we get the odd rain shower. Spring bulbs show , on average, are 2/3 weeks earlier than when we were kids. Flowers native to the south of the country now grow in the midlands.
You really can make a difference. It is very important that we can cut down the amount of greenhouse gases made. If we wait, or hope that other people are making an effort, it WILL be too late and global warming WILL change our world forever!
If you save electricity around the home you will be cutting down the amount of carbon dioxide made, and cutting down on the bills too. Why not turn off lights when you don’t need them.
Switch off TVs, computers and hi-fis completely when you’re not using them. If you leave them on standby they still use about half the amount of electricity as when they’re on! When you use the kettle, just boil the water you need – try not to fill it up if you don’t need to.
Reduce the demand on your central heating and air conditioning. Let food cool down before putting it in the fridge or freezer and try not to leave the fridge or freezer door open. Wash a full load in the washing machine and use a lower washing temperature. A half load uses the same amount of electricity as a full load.
Use energy efficient light bulbs. They cost more than normal light bulbs but last longer and will save on your electricity bill.
Insulate your home (this means stopping heat escaping) like having insulation in the loft or in your walls. This saves 25% of a homes heat loss. Showers use less water than baths. Also stop taps dripping and try not to leave them running when you clean your teeth.
Recycle bottles, cans, paper and plastics. When you go shopping look out for the symbol which means that the product can be recycled or contains recycled material. If you have a garden start a compost heap.
Ok – it is nt much if only I do it. But if the folk of this country, this continent, this planet did it, there may just be time to SAVE THE PLANET FOR YOUR CHILDREN’S CHILDREN..