Is the climate really changing?
In the UK, the weather does appear to be changing and becoming more unstable. This time last year I was wearing a tee shirt and many people were sunbathing on the beaches. This year, we have snow and there is little sign of Spring.
Last summer was a bit of a wash out too, after the nice weather in March the rains came and lasted all summer. Droughts turned to floods across the UK. We know that the polar ice caps are melting, but is the climate really changing? It seems that it is and it’s been changing ever since the industrial revolution began. Now we are beginning to see some weird weather as a result. The world is heavily industrialised and getting more industrialised. Is it time to rethink our development and think more about what we need rather than what we want? Is it time that the greedy realised that fast cars and private jets aren’t very environmentally friendly. Is it time we put the likes of Jeremy Clarkson and Top Gear out to pasture?
The weather is influenced by a number of things, the rotation of the earth and other phenomenon. In the UK we usually have the jet stream crossing the UK, but at the moment it’s too far south. I just checked and it seems to be moving north and so the weather might be a little better in time for me to do my shopping on Thursday. You can click that link to a website that animates a graphic of the jet stream and gives you some idea of why it’s so cold here now.
Those winds bring in cloud, usually from the West, but at the moment we’re getting icy winds and snow from the North-West. Clouds are actually clouds of water vapour that are formed out at sea. How they are formed isn’t as obvious as you might think. Heat from the sun evaporates the water and then you have cloud. Have you noticed that it’s not so cold when it’s cloudy and goes even colder when we have a clear sky? This bit of science is hard to explain, but take a look at your neighbours windows. They look black right? The light, the photons go in and then bounce around inside and don’t come out again. They get trapped. Now think about the night. There windows don’t look black then if they have the light on. Photons going through glass are a little like a crowds going into a railway station, the people inside the station find it hard to come out with large numbers of people going in. It’s the same with photons going through a window. It’s also the same with photons going through cloud, they get trapped under the cloud and it gets warmer and so more water evaporates and so more clouds are made. Yes, clouds add to the greenhouse effect, once we have rain clouds, there is a good chance more will be produced. That doesn’t always happen, we sometimes get showers, but last summer, once it started it just kept raining. Part of the reason is other greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide also trap photons and hence heat, in a similar way.
Now think about colour. Why is the snow so slow to melt? It’s obviously the colour, photons bounce off white more than they bounce off darker colours. So if we make the polar ice caps darker; if we make them dirty, they will melt. That is what we have been doing, with dirty fumes; soot from industry and vehicles. Next time you’re behind a bus or truck and it’s belching out black smoke, remember that little fact.
Do you still think climate change is some wheeze thought up by governments to screw more taxes out of us? Well you’re partly right. They aren’t taking it very seriously are they? If they were taking it seriously they would put more taxes on fuel and things that add to climate change and cut other taxes. They would preach sustainability, not growth. They would go for population reduction, not encourage people to have even more children. They would have building regulations that encouraged builders to build things to last and be sustainable. They would try to get wealth shared more evenly and appreciate that the rich can’t race around in Ferrari’s and private jets anymore, because the rest of us have to pay the price for their greed.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments box. Does the future of the planet concern you? Are you leaving a mess for your grandchildren to clean up?