Global Warming

Don Herbison-Evans ,

Dairy cattle are being raised in Greenland where a hundred years ago only polar bears could live. The icecaps are shrinking. Ninety per cent of the worlds glaciers are receding, so that in fifty years time, rivers like the Ganges may dry up. The world is warming.

There are counter effects. Algae in the oceans and plants grow faster as carbon dioxide levels in the air increase. Also the warming will increase the areas of arable land over huge areas in Siberia and Canada, that are currently in permafrost.

But the warmer the oceans get: the less carbon dioxide they can dissolve, so they will release their carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which will heat up the planet even faster. This vicious circle is what climate scientists fear most. It does not matter whether the observed warming was initiated by our activities or not. Blame will not help us. Our only hope of controlling this disaster is substantially to reduce the carbon dioxide that we put into the atmosphere. This may work or it may not. Our carbon dioxide may be to blame or not. We cannot ever predict the future with certainty. But we can take out insurance against calamity. It will be expensive. Insurance costs money. But the cost of doing nothing is likely to be

  • the swamping of the worlds major coastal cities by the rising oceans,
  • the swallowing of islands,
  • the loss of animal species, and
  • even eventually making the air unbreathable by humans.

    I have children, and I would like them and their future generations to inherit a planet like it is now.

    Opponents of measures to curb our carbon dioxide production have their heads buried in the sands of denial, and seem obsessed with the shapes of sand grains. The ignorance and short-sighted self-interest shown by such people pose a severe threat to the future of the earth.

    (written 24 November 2009, updated 28 July 2012)