Updated: Aug 4, 2019
Contribution of the Conservation Advisory Committee (CAC)
In the last presentation on Climate Change we wrote about what climate change is and how the atmosphere works to make our Earth a livable planet. We have been adding more and more of the gases our atmosphere uses to keep us warm. More Greenhouse Gases means more heat held in by our atmosphere and that changes the climate. So, what is wrong with a warmer climate? Less snow to shovel, more crop growth, and longer summer fun.
Maybe for some but probably not for all. It’s not just a warming - but a change in how our atmosphere and oceans work and that does not necessarily equate to nice warm summers. Because of the complexity of the atmosphere-ocean interface some places may get hotter (dangerous for some, 114 degrees in France in June), some may get colder (more severe winters), some may get more rain, (severe flooding in the mid-west and south this spring), some may get dryer (severe fires in the west last year and already starting this year). There is so much more.
It is difficult to predict exactly what may happen in any particular region due to the uncertainty of how the very complex atmosphere and ocean interface may change, but what is certain is that there will be change. How much and how fast depends a lot on what we do or not do.
We are already seeing other changes than described above. More and new insects in some areas, less in others. Crop failures due to draught or flooding. Some species are arriving sooner while some not at all.
Sea levels are rising and some Oceana and Pacific island nations are being forced to leave their homes. Ice is melting very quickly in some areas. In the Artic new shipping lanes have opened that have never existed before. Maybe that will help some, but at what cost?
Permafrost, what used to be frozen all year long is now melting at a very quick rate, releasing more methane and CO2 into the atmosphere and warming it even faster. Some homes and roads built on what was believed to be permanently frozen ground are now cracking, tilting and falling down as the ground beneath them becomes thawed and unstable.
It is recognized by many scientists that we are entering a new period of mass extinction. This is in part due to climate change, and in part due to our sometimes-reckless use of our resources. Some believe we are leaving the Epoch known as the Holocene and entering the Epoch known as the Anthropocene from anthropo, for “man,” and cene, for “new, because humans have caused mass extinctions of plant and animal species, polluted the oceans and altered the atmosphere, among other lasting impacts.
Putting all of this together and much more not mentioned and possibly not even thought of yet, we see a planet changing due to our actions. This is going to cost us or not, there is still time to do something. This July we celebrated the 50th anniversary of one of mankind’s greatest accomplishments; putting men on the surface of the moon and safely returning them home. We as a country did this in less than a decade. We can do this for climate change as well.
Next time we will discuss what we have to do to make this less costly for all.