The Battle of Climate Change

For most of us the question of climate change is pretty straight forward, the earth is getting warmer and we are causing it.  But there are people who would rather the issue be a little bit more uncertain.  Yesterday a UK Newspaper called the Independent ran a story revealing that there are those who secretly fund organisations and people who promote this uncertainty – Climate Science Attacks.

Apparently a secret organisation exists called the Donors Trust based in Alexandria, Virginia.  This group is funelling millions of dollars into the counter claims of climate change doubters.  Most of the wealthy backers of this group are anonymous, but an audit trail has led back to one of it’s biggest supporters- the American billionaire Charles Koch.  Koch Industries you will probably not be surprised to hear is a large oil, gas and chemicals conglomerate from Kansas.  In Australia, climate change and the economy is always on the political agenda and it’s worth keeping an eye on the media reports here, ABC Iview is the easiest way to get access.

Just for clarification that’s a big fossil fuel company donating money to sponsor scepticism about global warming.    This is not small amounts of money either, it’s the sort of cash that gets you onto the big stage.  A researcher in Philidelphia estimated that nearly half a billion dollars has been donated in the last ten years specifically to undermine climate change science.

So no vested interests there at all and I suspect we can all work out where the rest of the sponsors are from.  It is perhaps worth checking out the UK Newspapers and media about this story as it develops.  Normally the BBC is great at covering environmental issues and scandals like this – watch for Panorama and Newsnight for any stories.  Those outside Britain can access them by using a UK based proxy server to change their IP address as explained on this site – http://thenewproxies.com/british-ip-address.  It’s quite a simple process if you use the recommended software and only takes a minute or two to access media sites anywhere on the planet, essential if you want to get a proper world view of climate change news.

Carbon and Population

Carbon and hydrogen are the basis of organic matter on Earth. The most basic hydrocarbon is methane – CH4. Carbon dioxide is usually thought of as inorganic (although some contend that there is no such thing as inorganic carbon chemistry) is carbon bonded with oxygen. Together methane and carbon dioxide are the two most important determinants for global warming.

Both methane and carbon dioxide are relatively inert – in other words they don’t react with other chemicals or compounds and so stay around for a long time. They are both greenhouse gases. They stay in the upper hemisphere and allow sunlight to pass through them but when ultraviolet light tries to leave the atmosphere it encounters the green house gases and a large portion of it is re-directed to earth. This is causing global warming and also increasing the risk of skin cancer.

The causes for global warming are hotly disputed. Most scientists make the industrial revolution the key event in the exponential growth in greenhouse gases. Others also point to ruminant farming that produces lots of methane.

In both cases it is human activity – one for industry and one for agriculture. Humans themselves breathe out carbon dioxide. The connection therefore between humanity’s security on the planet and humanity’s main activities of breathing, industry and agriculture is irrefutable.

Models of climate change show different things. One short term benefit of more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will be faster plant growth as plants and algae use carbon dioxide in photosynthesis to make energy to grow.

In the longer term, the rising temperature will melt ice caps and glaciers and cause sea levels to rise.

The ways to lower the carbon count are within our power. Trees, plants and flora in general are great sinks for carbon. Another method is to have a paradigm shift in agriculture and industry. Less livestock would reduce methane emissions. And new systems of energy not based on carbon would also have a positive effect.

If no large scale action is taken population numbers will decrease as climatic conditions become more harsh.