Global Warming / Climate Change.

A Personal View.




As it has become linked to ideas of rising sea levels and the end of the world as we know it, the idea of global warming or climate change has been developing the power to inspire fear in the hearts of many people. But although it is a popular topic with scientists and the media, there is as yet, no clear agreement as to what actually causes global warming. Greenhouse gasses are definitely a contributory factor but many believe that they only contribute to the problem and do not, in themselves, create it. There are in fact many conflicting ideas on the subject, including the effects of sun spot activity and this makes it difficult if not impossible for any government to take some form of decisive action in an effort to do something about the problem.

I myself have been a little confused by the disagreement among scientists. They don't all agree on the causes and so one cold December evening, as I sat pondering the problem, I glanced over at my oil filled, two kilowatt radiator which was heating the room in which I sat. Then suddenly, in a kind of eureka moment, I realised that not only was this heater heating my room and keeping me warm, it was also heating the planet, even if the electricity it used was being produced by wind turbines. The amount of heat this heater was putting into the atmosphere was, bearing in mind the size of the global environment, minuscule in the extreme and anyone who tried to actually calculate its effect would come up with a figure of point, an unimaginable number of zeros, one. But there is a figure on the effect of my little radiator on the global temperature and no matter how small it might be, no one can deny that my radiator contributes to the problem of global warming. Not that I bothered to turn it off - of course.

Then it occurred to me that on this cold December evening there were sixty million people in Britain using heaters to stay warm. Not only that, but while I was only heating the room in which I sat, many others were heating their whole houses and some were even heating empty buildings in case somebody might need to use one of the rooms. Consequently, if all the heat that was created and then allowed to seep out into the atmosphere was taken into consideration, then it is reasonable to assume that in their efforts to stay warm the people of Great Britain were, collectively, also heating the global atmosphere. Not by much it is true, but probably by enough to be measured by the world's most sensitive equipment - just.

After this it occurred to me that on this cold winter's evening almost all the people in Europe were using heaters to stay warm. The people of Russia were also using heaters to warm themselves and, by default, the planetary atmosphere. A billion people in China wouldn't be too happy with the idea of being cold on this day and so they would also switch on their heaters and that's before we even start to consider the people in Canada, North America and Greenland. In fact, on a cold winter's day there are many, many heaters, all around the northern hemisphere, working hard to keep people warm and, in consequence, the planetary atmosphere.

But the problem doesn't stop there. Even if we don't count the heaters being used to heat empty or unoccupied buildings the internal combustion engine produces a great deal of heat and it could be said that every car, lorry, ship and aeroplane works to increase the overall temperature of the planet. Exhaust fumes are not only polluting, they are also extremely hot and it might not be unreasonable to say that if the heat from all the car, bus, lorry and aeroplane exhausts in the world were piped directly to Europe, Europe would quickly become hotter and drier than the Kalahari Desert.

But even still the human desire to create heat doesn't stop there. Televisions produce heat and so do computers and all this heat, collectively, does its bit to increase the global temperature which, a mere few thousand years ago, depended only on volcanoes, forest fires and sunlight to maintain a temperature capable of sustaining life.

On top of all this is the fact the six point seven billion people on this planet all want, on average, at least one hot meal a day and producing that meal means heat must be created. Heat that not only heats the food to be eaten but in a collective sense, also the global atmosphere.

Where does it end? Steel works, oil refineries, furnaces, factories and power stations all produce enormous amounts of heat. Scientists say that pollution makes it difficult to get rid of heat produced by the sun, but it also makes it difficult if not impossible to get rid of all the extra heat produced by this planet's human population.

Finally, although it's possible that although the world's population will eventually be willing to switch to non polluting sources of energy, I double if they will be willing to give up the energy which makes modern life so pleasant and also produces so much extra heat.

Consequently, who can deny that luxury loving Homo Sapiens has an appointment with a future it cannot avoid.

---August 27, 2008---

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