Some Like it Hot

When George Harrison sang “here comes the sun” it was all about the end of winter and the joy that comes as things becomes both brighter and warmer in the spring and summer. But, can we have too much of a good thing?

With a global climate that is getting increasingly hotter we might indeed end with too much of a good thing. The question of the day, indeed a question of vital importance to us all, is “is global warming real”? What do you think?

As far back as 1824 scientist were registering their concern about the effects of fossil fuels and the effects that carbon dioxide was having and would have on planet Earth. Scientific research increased during the1970s and 80s. Most scientists are now predicting that our use of fossil fuels will lead to a warming of the surface of the planet and create global warming that could, in the end, become devastating for the planet and for all of human kind and every other living being on the planet. Well, most people seem to agree except for apparent “experts” such as Donal Trump, that well known scientists and climate expert, shouting them down calling them ‘gloom mongers’.

The one thing that was promised to Britain with global warming and a warmer earth, was cool dry summers and warm wet winters. My experience is that is what we now have. The scorching summers of the 60s and 70s have disappeared as did the British holiday makers as they chased the sun on various package deals to Spain. The cold winters with real Christmas Day snow, often several feet thick, has become an occasional sprinkling of white.

The fact that it is getting warmer would seem to to be beyond dispute. The question is why? Donald Trump is re-energising the US coal industry suggesting that global warming is nothing to do with human intervention and simply one of the many cycles on Earth’s planetary activity.

As I understand it we are carbon based organisms living in a carbon based world. Where we are all subject to the carbon cycle. Carbon is used to construct living matter and then broken down and released back into the atmosphere to be recycled into new growth.

Everything is on fire

When the pages of an old book are turning yellow they are, actually burning but very slowly. The pages are slowly turning back into carbon, this is the carbon cycle. The carbon was captured in the trees that created the wood pulp that made the paper. Fire is a catalyst that increases the rate of the carbon cycle that is going on any way. Fire releases carbon and energy, in the form of heat, into the atmosphere.

The carbon based system that we live in stores carbon into the growth of vegetation or carbon is held in the natural storage of the seas. This has been, throughout creation, a natural process of living and dying. Example plants and trees, that need CO2 to grow, soak it up and turn it into vegetation that is either eaten by animals and turned back CO2 when the animals die, or as leaves fall to the ground carbon is released as the leaves rot down to provide nutrients for further vegetation growth.

Coal is the fossilised deposit of the forests of the past. As they died and were buried they were compressed into what we now call coal. The coal, just like the forest is full of carbon. This is what is released into the atmosphere when we burn it.

The natural process of growth and decay, birth and death, of carbon storage and release, has been in balance on the planet throughout time. Then the humans arrived and it all changed.

If the carbon released into the atmosphere is greater than the planets ability to store it the system goes out of balance. The atmosphere of the earth, apart from providing the oxygen that we all breath filters out the effects of the sun. The CO2 creates a blanket in the atmosphere that increases the heat at ground level.

We are having three main effects, I can see, that are contributing to global warming. The first is this issues of putting more and more CO2 into the atmosphere. The second is deforestation that has removed the planets ability to store carbon in vegetation. It is said that the forests are the lungs of the world. Right now the world if suffocating. The third effect is methane.

Methane
Described as the ‘Greenhouse gas’ is said to be more dangerous than CO2, though once in the atmosphere methane does react with oxygen to create even more CO2. The majority of methane in the atmosphere is said to come from ruminants. That is, animals that ferment vegetation as food in their gut and then both fart and burp methane. It is estimated that the 1.5 billion cows and bulls currently on farms account for 18% of all harmful greenhouse gases. That is more than the entire negative CO2 effect of the entire US economy.

So, number one we have deforested the planet. That would has been burned. And two, the land that has been cleared of tress is now used to raise cattle for human food consumption. Both actions become a recipe for a warmer planet. I have not even included the effects of burning oils and gas and the love affair that we have with the motor car. As I write this I am on the plane about top head off to Qatar. The plane is half full and I do not have a clue how much fuel it will take to get us all there, I do not know what my own carbon footprint is in the journey.

There are things that we can all do to reduce our individual effect on the carbon cycle and collectively reduce global warming. Now, many people will say ‘what is the point of me doing anything, I am only one person, I can’t have much of an effect?’ And yet a lot of people doing the same thing can have a big effect.

The two biggest things that we can do immediately that will have a huge effect on global warming. The first is use less fuel. Walk rather than taking the car and cycle to work and the shops if you can. If you are going to drive try and go electric as a bike or a car. The second is stop eating meat, especially beef, and stop consuming all dairy products. Becoming veggie or, if you can, vegan has an enormous effect of your carbon footprint. The last things is recycle all that you can and where possible by things that are not packaging that requires recycling in the first place. Only time will tell what effect we are really having on the climate. The trouble is that by the time that we realise it, it might just be too late.

I am veggie considering becoming vegan and currently looking at electric bikes. I am thinking that if I cycle, with a bit of electric support, I could reduce my carbon footprint without being sweaty at my destination and at the same time get fit. Sounds like a win, win.

Take care and check your footprint

Sean x