Nick Breeze - Articles
- Category: Nick Beeze Articles Nick Beeze Articles
- Published: 15 February 2014 15 February 2014
The UK has recently experienced a deluge of terrible weather that is bringing many parts of the country to crisis point. Our Prime Minister, David Cameron, rolled up his sleeves and appeared on the BBC to exclaim: “We are in it for the long haul!”
David Cameron: "We're in it for the long haul!"
I had never previously considered Cameron to be an ironist but with this defying slogan he has proved himself a man of fine wit… even if slightly distasteful in the circumstances. The mainstream media in the UK seem to have an embargo on telling the public the truth about all the extreme weather (and the rest of the world) we are getting. It is worth keeping in mind that it is not just us. The US has experienced incredibly harsh freezing conditions, while the west coast is unseasonably hot with California recording its worst ever drought and Alaska experiencing extraordinary heat anomalies. In Europe, 40% of Slovenia's forests have been badly damaged by ice storms. In Australia heatwaves are breaking new records, floods in Bolivia have left 42 people dead, while in Brazil, extreme drought means that the water supplies of over 140 cities are now being rationed. The list really does go on. The weather is changing around the world and fast.
Last weekend I visited a friend in Salcombe, Devon and as we hiked along the coast we witnessed the erosion in realtime as the waterlogged cliff was literally collapsing into the sea. Concrete roads eaten away by the roaring seas. The houses that look out boasting views that would merit the front page of a travel supplement, now look eerily precarious. Dead birds litter the beaches and one can only imagine the stress being put on local wildlife as a whole.
Devon Coastline, West of Salcombe, February 2014
The BBC recently made an assessment highlighting a link to the loss of Arctic sea ice that is playing a big role in climate change. As any scientist who is looking at the Arctic will tell you, it is warming much faster than the rest of the planet and as it does so, it turns from white reflective skullcap into a dark heat absorbing region of the globe, which is actually accelerating the warming process.
It was the temperature differential between the Arctic and the equatorial regions that maintained the stability of the Jetstream, this is the fast moving band of high latitude winds that kept the cold air in the Arctic. As the Arctic warms and the temperature differential reduces, the Jetstream has become much more wavy and these larger waves are progressing far slower around the globe (see animation below). Because the amplitude of the waves is getting greater, the air masses have to travel much further north and south, and this means that the wind speeds increase producing the violent storms that we have been experiencing, and the sticking weather patterns.
Without the sea ice, the temperature differential between the polar regions and the tropics will continue to reduce and we can therefore expect to experience even greater extremes in the coming years. This will have disastrous consequences for farmers all over the world. Couple this with the desperate state of the world’s oceans which are increasingly polluted and acidifying, it is clear an impending global food crisis may be only a few years away.
Jetstream Animation Produced By NASA
Some politicians, especially those in the British, Canadian and Australian governments are playing down the causes of these extremes saying that “weather is always changing”. Well this is true of course but on a totally different timescale. Ice core records do show that the Earth has spent long periods at both hotter and cooler temperatures. The depth of last ice age was only 4 C cooler than now on a global average and the ice age cycle is every 100,000 years, driven by the earth's orbit. The difference now is the speed of the change driven by man’s release of carbon dioxide, mainly through the burning of fossil fuels, which has added 40% more CO2 to the makeup of our atmosphere. Ice core records also show that the Earth responds slowly to change and that there is a lag in the system, this means that whatever course of action we take, there is more warming to come.
Dr Jennifer Francis - Understanding the Jetstream
The issues we face now are all directly attributable to how we power our lives as a society and almost everything we do has a carbon cost in its action, or its production. At a time when we desperately need to cut our carbon emissions globally, we are doing the opposite by continuing to increase them in ever larger quanitities, which is making matters much, much worse. Yet here in Britain, where we have the capacity to install renewable energy systems, Prime Minister David Cameron is marching around Britain telling us all we should jump on board with fracking and commit ourselves to a suicidal carbon pollution based future. So for once we have a politician who is (inadvertently) telling us the truth: “We are in it for the long haul!”.
David Cameron’s government has as its key advisers senior figures from the world of fracking and oil. People like Peter Lilly and Lord Brown, who play very prominent roles in policy formation, are ignoring the risks posed to civilians by climate change, in order to make short term financial gains. Peter Lilly MP is also the Vice Chairman and Senior Independent Non-Executive Director at Tethys Petroleum with earnings of £70,000 last year alone. These kinds of conflicts of interest mean that policy making in the UK is corrupt. Mainstream media is being complicit in not properly discussing the causes of climate change. They also seem to have missed the fact that the debate about climate change has moved on from "is it happening?", to "just how extreme is it? How much time do we have available to us and how best to repair our atmosphere?"
BBC News Saturday 15th February
The scientific community now understands what is happening to the Earth’s climate. In the crudest of terms the world is getting hotter and ice is melting. The Greenland ice sheet is 3 kilometres thick in places and its middle has turned soft like butter. It is carving off into the ocean at an ever accelerating rate. If we lose it then we will incur 7 metres of sea level rise. It is no longer a case of “if”, it is a case of “when”.
Most immediate is the effect of the destabilising weather patterns on global food supply. Prices are predicted to go up as food becomes harder to produce. Britain is experiencing new trends in weather extremes. Without serious change in policies and leadership from international governments, there is going to be incredible pain and suffering around the world. What we are now learning is that no one is exempt. Centuries of relatively stable weather enabled us to build extensively close to coasts and on floodplains. Dramatic photographs that we see in the media of houses and villages under water reflect this very clearly. It is a nightmare for the residents who are now learning that their homes are in the front line of climate change, leaving them unliveable, uninsurable and unsellable.
On the bright side it is worth noting that there are good and clever people around the world who are taking these threats seriously and are developing proposals to remove the carbon from the atmosphere. But none of these proposals can really be successful if we carry on pouring our waste gases into the skyfill site. So the ball is thrown back to us to demand change from our leaders and a rapid transition to as close as possible to 100% clean energy. In answer to the question, what can we as individuals do, well if our leaders are too stupid to understand the science or too-weak to detach themselves from hydrocarbon paymasters, then we must vote them out of office.
We do still have a chance to turn this situation around but the window of opportunity is closing. If we cannot make the change then the natural world will respond by forcing change upon us that we will not like. And that will sincerely be “for the long haul” (or in geological terms, the short-haul to extinction!).
Facing The extreme Nature Of Changing Climate
For more information on how the heating Arctic is effecting global climate you can watch David Wasdell's Arctic Dynamics presentation: Video: Arctic Dynamics (Part 1 & 2) by David Wasdell
By Nick Breeze
And Bru Pearce
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