Introduction: our Mission
The theme of this web site is Climate Change: for better or worse, an advantage or a problem?
This is an independent web site which was initially based upon BSc student Caroline Last’s Climate Change dissertation, plus further content and articles, and other independent contributions.
We have set out to review the current research (Winter 2004 with updates) and to give you our view of the great climate change debate. We hope that you will find our site interesting and will give us feedback by joining our Forum, and perhaps also email us an article for inclusion.
Climate change for better or worse?
The evidence suggests that the 1990s was the warmest decade in the warmest century of the last millennium. Our planet may never have warmed as fast as it has in the past 25 years.
What is the evidence?
The evidence is all around us. In Britain spring comes on average a week earlier than 30 years ago. In Europe the glaciers are disappearing, and Mediterranean droughts are worsening . Also in Europe, unprecedented high August temperatures were experienced throughout August 2003, which resulted in many thousands of early deaths among the old and infirm. To the the eastern seaboard of the United States, and the gulf of Mexico, the summer of 2004 brought an unprecedented four hurricanes, with floods and lethal landslides. In Siberia, roads buckle as permafrost melts. And, as ice melts and oceans warm, sea levels worldwide are rising.
What has caused climate change?
Natural variability of climate due to solar output and volcanic eruptions could partly explain the recent warming. But most scientists believe that the gases emitted as we burn coal and other fossil fuels are the most likely reason for the past 25 years of warming. These gases contribute to the “greenhouse effect” as they accumulate in the atmosphere, trapping the outgoing heat radiated from the surface of the earth.
What is being done about it?
This argument has persuaded the great majority of the world’s governments to sign treaties such as the Kyoto Protocol to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Britain is at the forefront of this effort with its scientific leadership of the International Panel on Climate Change and the government’s lobbying to get the Kyoto Protocol entered into force. In addition, Britain has set itself tough domestic targets for reducing emissions and switching to cleaner sources of energy. These were outlined in the government’s white paper on energy, published in February 2003. While all of this is a small step in toward reduction of the potential impact, which must make sense if only on the basis of the precautionary principal, some impacts may actually be positive. So lets broaden the debate, and as this web site suggests, balance the good and the bad. Unfortunately it has to be said that the negative effects, so far predicted, have far outweighed the benefits.
What can we do?
Apart from making choices in our own lives about our own energy use this is hardly going to “make a difference” on a national let alone a global scale. So most of us feel unable to do anything which would make a difference. (UK EA, 2004)
SO THAT’S WHERE THIS WEB SITE COMES IN. MAKE A SMALL DIFFERENCE BY INTERACTING WITH US, BY SENDING US YOUR IDEAS, AND ALLOW US TO ADD YOUR IDEAS AND THOUGHTS TO THIS WEB SITE, PREDICTING IMPACTS, AND WHEN THE RIGHT PEOPLE THEMSELVES READ THIS WEB SITE, HELP THEM TO PLAN FOR A FUTURE OF CLIMATIC UNCERTAINTY AND RISING SEA LEVELS.