Climate change is an important subject, not something to keep silent about, even if that means that some people may not like what they hear. People in the high artic and on islands in the Pacific and elsewhere are already noticing changes in the weather, including hotter, drier summers, higher tides, glaciers that melt, and shallower currents, not so much to make a dramatic difference, but enough for negative ramifications.
The reality is that we don’t often like it, but that won’t stop it from happening. And if it’s being studied, talked about, brought to everyone’s attention, then people can get an idea of what’s going on, find ways to deal with it, and prevent it. When the Bush administration said no to the Kyoto protocol, there were countries that said, well we do want to do something about it now, demonstrating their commitment to the future.
It makes it all the more troublesome that a NASA climatologist, Mr Jim Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has been told that he should not talk about dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate, because we do not know how much humans are changing the Earth’s climate or how much change is dangerous. To which he replied, in 2004, “Actually, we know quite a lot.”
I wonder if the person who told this to Mr Hansen knows that in the high artic regions, there are people who have to move from where they have lived for generations, because the climate is changing, and that means that the ground doesn’t stay frozen as long as before, and it isn’t as well protected. Water eats away at the coastline, where it couldn’t do that before.
People on small islands in the Pacific start to get woried as well. The water that floods their islands stays longer and the flood levels rise all the time. The islands aren’t very high above the water, so any rise in sea level is a problem for them. They may not know all the science, but surely they can look and see that something is changing. People like them will be the first to find out about the effects of climate change, while most of us will watch and hope it doesn’t happen where we live.
I can’t say I look forward to a possible seven meter rise in global sea level. It would mean that my country would have to double the height of its levees. Seven meters is a lot. The levees are already high, not so high as some in the Netherlands, but we can’t afford to be without them. Most of where I live lies between one and three meters above sea level; other parts of the country lay higher. A rise of seven meters would mean that we might have to fortify some of our cities again, not as protection against war, but against the sea. But other people, like those in Banlgadesh, may have to do that as well but might not have the resources to do so.
A lot of the fertile ground in the world that people depend on for agriculture is rather low-lying. So a car that would use water as a fuel would be a nice thing. It provides transportation, drinking water if wanted, and doesn’t contribute to global warming.
In Greeland the ice melts, and the current that keeps Europe warm has diminished, not so much that consequences would be disastrous, yet enough to be concerned about what would happen if it did. The current that keeps North America warm is, to my knowledge, still intact. There have been more major tropical storms this year than there have been for a ong time. In order to understand why these events are occurring, climate change must be a subject that is discussed.
Animals that previously did not appear in certain regions, because the climate there wasn’t hospitable for them, are living there now. Certain fish species have been found in waters along the French coast, but more to the north than before. Some diseases have been travelling slowy but steadily to the north. These diseases have been in existence for a very long time and are just now beginning to spread to northern climates. Scientists should be able to study whether this is due to climate change or to some other cause.
“Mr Jim Hansen was the person who first got global warming on the world’s front pages in 1988, when he told a senate committee hearing during a sweltering US drought that there was strong evidence for the greenhouse effect and it was time to stop waffling.” It sounds to me as if someone is still waffling.
And for those who say, well we’ve heard about it, but why should we care ? Well isn’t it a government’s job to serve and protect the people? And is global warming, climate change and the effects of that not something that everyone, will soon start to notice? President Bush’s speech about a cleaner future is a good step. It is. He is about the last person I had expected to say that. So I was wrong. I’m glad I was.
Not only will it make the US and other countries working on that less dependent on foreign oil, but it also provides cleaner air, which would be a big benefit, especially in cities. People are already researching new fuels, like hydrogen, fuel cell technology, and bio-fuels. I was also surprised to read that people are researching the use of iron as fuel, a strange but seemingly workable idea.
I remembering at school in English class, reading an article from a newspaper, about the development of smart vehicles, which was a consequence of the high oil prices in Europe. To give an example, a few years ago I was in Tampa, Florida. I noticed that one gallon of fuel there cost about the same as one liter in Europe. That is quite a difference. Supose you fill your tank in the US and it costs you $1.50 per gallon, and you travel to Europe and there it costs you $1.50 per liter. You’ll notice the difference in how much it costs you rather quickly.
So although a smart car is unlikely to appear in the US market, other initiatives like hybrids have appeared, and more fuel efficient cars. Energy efficiency is also practiced in heating technology and power generation.
If a laptop can work on battery for several hours, then what else can be made to work on batteries for a while ? Some lamps can be used for up to six hours without having to be powered by electricity. People will not like giving up thier comfort, so providing convenience and comfort while being energy efficient should be studied, and shouldn’t be impossible.
If the voices discussing climate change would be silenced, then research into such initiatives that would benefit people could be seen as not worth the trouble. Fuel cell powered bikes, due to arrive on the market in the UK end of this year, offer clean transport. You can drink the exhaust, it doesn’t contribute to global warming, it provides people with jobs.
Perhaps you know somebody who is intrested in this, or works on it, or is studying it. If there is bad news, like the possiblity that the melting water from Greenlands glaciers is lubricating them so that they move faster to the sea, then it is better to know about it, because then people can look to see if it’s so, and deal with it. It won’t go away because some people say, well no you shouldn’t talk about it. It will surprise us in ways that nobody will like.
It can be only concluded form this that we should support people like Jim Hansen and others so that they can tell us what they know, what they have discovered, things that can be looked into, dealt with if possible, and people can learn what we need to learn to know what we’re dealing with.
Keeping it silent will do us no good, because it means that the news may be delayed and a consequence of that delay would be a higher cost over a shorter amount of time. I prefer to spread costs and to be ready, rather then pretend nothing is going on, and then suddenly being faced with that which we pretended not to know. We may wish then, if only we had …
(Source: New Scientist)