A presentation was launched last month by the UK climate ministry. It is a Google Earth (*.KML file or plugin) which ‘highlights some of the changes that may occur if the global average temperature rises by 4°C above the pre-industrial climate average.’
It spurns us, not just in the UK or the US – where a potential congressional climate bill was recently abandoned due to mostly right wing opposition – but everywhere to make sure we do our part not only at the ballot box but by our daily actions to help alleviate or eliminate such bleak future scenarios.
Burning fossil fuels has contributed immensely to the problem of climate change or global warming as some call it. It is clear that some countries have contributed far more in terms of pollution and emissions. One of the big political debates hampering progress in the ‘climate debate’ is the acceptance of the share of responsibility and any extra costs for those more responsible. In the final analysis important conferences like the upcoming Copenhagen 15 or COP15 need to produce near term and tangible results if we are to survive.
The Washington Post science section has produced an interactive global emissions chart. Using the chart it is possible to visualize pollution levels per country or region since 1950 and track changes through the decades to the present time by using a slider. No prizes for guessing the present top 2 or top 3 polluters.
Svante Arrhenius (Feb. 19, 1859 – Oct. 2, 1927) was a Swedish scientist and Nobel Prize winner in 1903. His earliest works were on electrolytes and later in life he turned to astronomy and origins of life but along the way he worked on predicting the effects of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) on the Earth’s atmosphere.
He studied the works of French scientist Joseph Fourier, who had earlier predicted surface temperature increases, and worked on predicting how much they would affect the Earth. He even went as far as saying that it may possible to prevent the next ice age with the increases in emissions. One of his main conclusions was that doubling CO2 levels, plus the water vapour that will be held in the atmosphere partially as a result, could cause a 5 to 6 degree centigrade rise in surface temperatures. His conclusions were long term, he had cited 3000 years as a time line for example, and he even viewed it as a positive because the Earth’s climate would be less harsh or cold as a result. In the late 20th century his work has had him called the father of climate change for the predictions that he made and is one of the basis for the more modern and accurate climate change models.