So my wife asked me today to explain why if there is Global Warming, why doesn’t the world feel hotter?
True the temperature in many parts of the world has seen record high’s recently, but there are still places getting very cold during winter; and the Earth has seen high’s in the past. Would this be the reason some people just don’t believe that global warming is real. We are coming out of the end of an Ice Age, maybe the higher temps are just a consequence of that?
The Earth is a big place, and while we know many things about climate and the processes that affect the weather systems; scientists would admit we don’t have the specifics. We do know the big picture and the types of change that will occur in a warming planet. But because we are doing this warming planet thing for the first time, predicting time lines has been hard. It is starting to look like the earlier predictions were in fact on the optimistic side; change could be quicker than even the scientists thought.
In the earth’s past it has seen very high Carbon levels, and the sea level was both higher and lower than it is today. The Earth was completely frozen at one point, and the south pole was tropical at another period in time. So in the event of global warming causing climate change on the planet, it may be something the earth has seen before and it will get over it!
The difference this time is we (us humans) have been the instigator of climate change due to global warming, and we have changed the makeup of the atmosphere very quickly compared to earth’s history! In the past there have been sharp changes due to volcanic eruptions, burning forests; releasing CO2 in large quantities into the atmosphere. There was devastation and extinction; but again we weren’t here so it didn’t bother us.
So what will I see in my lifetime? Well let me give myself another thirty years on the planet. I will see climate change at first, as the oceans are the trigger for most of the weather on the planet, the rising temperatures will see currents changing and this will have a direct impact on the weather. If the north Atlantic drift bringing warm water up by the west coast of Ireland was to stop flowing; Irelands winter will be much colder! On the coast of California we have already seen warmer summer’s, the fire season is almost all year round now. Hurricanes will be more frequent and have more intensity due to warmer ocean temperatures. Governments are worried at the future cost and damage control.
Ice caps melting giving rise to higher sea levels will change the face of our planet. Bangladesh will no longer exist, Florida will loose much of it’s coastline. The movement of countless millions of people may actually cause wars. This is not a if or a but, just a when! Some western countries are in the habit of leaving hard decisions until the last minute; because we always pull through somehow. This isn’t one of those times because it’s not just one country or even continent; it’s a planet. We can either learn to work together very quickly, believe the science and find answers; or learn to swim!