What are the scientists telling us?

What are the scientists telling us?


Everybody has heard of the greenhouse effect but it is widely misunderstood.  We are not pumping out so much carbon into the atmosphere we are creating a thick blanket of it round the earth preventing heat getting back out, just as glass does in a greenhouse.   The amount of carbon we produce compared with nature is tiny, almost nothing.  Everything that dies surrenders carbon.  But nature neutralizes these vast emissions with cooling mechanisms.  These are mainly three, trees that store carbon, ocean algae that turn it into oxygen and the polar icecaps which reflect a third of the sun’s heat back into space.   What we are doing is disabling the cooling mechanisms.  But it’s worse than that.  Once they are disabled they don’t just stop working, they turn turtle and start adding to global warming. Every tree that caches fire releases its stored carbon and makes the world hotter, with the consequence that even more trees catch fire next year.  Algae dying from carbon poisoning poison the oceans even more.  Ice that melts turns into water that releases heat.  Once this disabling of the cooling mechanisms reaches a critical point, as we release more and more carbon into the atmosphere, they will fail and the feedback mechanisms will take over.   At this crucial tipping point all that natural carbon they have been holding back will roar into the atmosphere.  Climate change will start happening on a far greater scale than anything we are seeing now with catastrophic consequences not only for humanity but most of life.  The scientists are now saying that at present rates of human emissions we have fewer than twelve years to avoid this terrifying turning point.  This is why these years now are so important and so precious.

If we don’t halt carbon emissions what are the scientists saying could happen?  Whole countries will go under water.  Much of the world’s most fertile land will be drowned including East Anglia and the Fens.  Millions will starve.  There will be ferocious hurricanes that could flatten cities, severe floods and ferocious droughts.  Hundreds of millions of climate refugees. And most likely savage resource wars to claim what’s left.  We must hope they are wrong.  But suppose they are right? Do we believe them?  It’s our choice.

But it’s not all bad news. We have wonderful technology.  We can not only halt climate change but create a new and better post-fossil fuel world for our children.  What could be more fulfilling than saving the world for our children?  But we’ve got to do it now and do it with all our hearts.  What an exciting time to be alive.







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