Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Climate Change

I suspect that we will tired of climate change news before the Copenhagen summit ends. It hasn't been helped by the frenzy around the UEA email leaks which implied some scientists might be fiddling the figures. At least it seems that the major industrialised nations agree that something needs to be done.

As I was saying on Sunday, I remember reading about CO2 levels and their impact on the greenhouse effect back in the 1970s in New Scientist. They expected levels to rise as emissions grew and forests which absorb carbon were felled. The additional CO2 acting as extra 'insulation' for the earth. This so-called greenhouse effect is the process that actually keeps our climate temperate, so it's a good thing. It guarantees our survival. The debate raging today is how much influence the emissions from human activity have on the overall picture.

My own view has always been that there will be natural fluctuations in climate, but overlaying that are substantial changes due to human activity. It seems inconceivable that the temperature and weather changes are completely unrelated to the vast increase in CO2 emissions from fossil fuels (and the methane and other gases from farming and industry)

Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels means those resources will be available for much longer for essential use, the pollution from them will be hugely reduced, climate change will be slowed, and side effects such as acidification of the sea will be mitigated (good news for shell-fish!) I just hope that our leaders have the courage to go for ambitious targets that will not only reduce CO2 emissions, but will produce a significant shift in the way we think about how economies should develop and grow.
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