Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Carbon Neutral

Last week there was a meeting in the Village - "Launch of Low Carbon Village ans Sustainability Project". As someone who has followed the theories of global warming and the problems that it will bring from before it was more that a small paragraph in New Scientist, I have a great interest in any proposals that will help mitigate the problem. I did hear a dinosaur leaving the meeting complaining that the counter argument that Global Warming did not exist was not put. Considering the work done by many universities, notable UEA, it really isn't worth commenting on this rubbish. One thought I had was that, while we sat there, the world population had increased by about 25,000 (yes that's the rate of increase). Without world governments, and other influential organisations including religious leaders, tackling the real problem, all we can do is glow at the righteousness of our efforts.

Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) had already cottoned on to the problem when he said:

"The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world."


Anonymous said...

It is so very easy to make sweeping statements about issues such as global warming, both for and against.

Personally, I am divided on the issue. Yes, there have been many studies undertaken, and there is no doubt that glaciers are melting rapidly, and that sea levels have risen, and that the earth's temperature is increasing, etc, etc. Man has certainly polluted sea and space, and depleted some ozone....

HOWEVER, and it's a big however, in relation to the time that the Earth has been in existence, Man has only been on the planet a few seconds! All of our measurements and observations could therefore widely be interpreted as being total rubbish, simply because nowhere near enough historical data can be gathered to make a proper extrapolation of the facts.

Can we really make such massive assumptions about these issues?

Perhaps glacial melting, heat fluctuations and other global phenomonen are normal cycles of the planet? In the grand scheme of things our Scientists know as much as the average earthworm does (perhaps they know more?). Don't forget that :)

Tony Morris said...

While you are right about the very short time man has been on the earth, data from very much earlier than that can be collected on obtained from various geological sources, for instance from samples of ice cores in the Antarctic. Global fluctuations have of course occurred over long periods and have been much more severe than the changes we are witnessing now. The problem is the rate of change.The issue as you say is complex but I don't agree that it is so little understood by scientists that we are unable to make rational assumptions. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency WEB site give a good summary of the state of knowledge.(see http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ )
Thanks for your comment.

Warren Baker said...

will global warming halt our overpopulation of the planet? Every cloud has a silver lining!!

Anonymous said...

Yes, data can indeed be extracted from ice cores - to about 500,000 years I believe, which is like a fraction of a fraction (repeat 100 times) millisecond of time that man has been on the planet. I really do not believe ice cores to show the entire picture, because, again, the data cannot be extrapolated far back enough. Perhaps the earth heated up even more when man was NOT around? Perhaps it got colder? We are at the end of an ice-age now many forget... those ice core samples didn't show any significant temperature rise for the past 150 years by the way - the fossil fuel era, so don't rely on this data too much.

Ice cores may show the rate of change has been higher when man has been around, but then again the rate may be normal due to the planet's normal behaviour? The industrial age of man is so recent - can this really effect the planet in such a short space of time (in relation to the planet's existence?)

To be honest, I don't believe much of what I read on the news, websites and especially from governments.

Being a scientist myself, albeit in a different field, I find myself more and more sceptical of other scientists these days...

I certainly think man is polluting and harming the planet's natural resources, but to go from that argument so one of global climate change will take more concrete evidence, which can of course never be achieved, hence my post. We are really at the flat-earth level of understanding the planet... if that even.