Earth on Fire: The Overheating Planet

Earth on Fire: The Overheating Planet

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The reason some popular posts are tagged ‘no title’ is not because they have no title—they all do—but because the old Blogger embedded the title at the top of text, and the new software does not see that. You can see the titles in capitals at the start of each snippet. (It would be nice if Blogger introduced an upgrade program that could fix this little problem.)

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Monday, 17 April 2006


An item on BBC Newsis yet more evidence that we are for it--that the consequences of global overheating will be far worse than suggested by the reassuring offical noises coming from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). The air over the Antarctic has risen a massive 2.5 degrees Celsius in the last fifty years, a rise that the computer modelling did not foresee because it uses a simplified model of the Antarctic's complexities. But it has long been plain that the predictions based on computer modelling are conservative. Indeed, those who do the modelling say that they take the middle line through the results. What they publish is not the worst scenario predicted, nor the best. The middle. But the actual readings are tracking along the top.

Now this latest study, using real readings from all over the Antarctic, underlines the point. And the matter is serious. If we lost all the ice in the Antarctic the oceans would be 60 metres higher.

But it should be no surprise that the Antarctic is heating up much faster than most of the rest of the planet. At the other end of the earth the Arctic is doing likewise, and it is agreed that that is due to human activity--burning the black stuff. So to suggest that the Antarctic's rise could be a natural phenomenon is just sticking the scientific head into the Arabian sands, the Canadian tar sands, the nearest coal mine...

Another recent item on BBC News quoted Britain's Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir David King, as saying that we are in for a rise of at least 3 degrees Celsius this century, and that that would put 400 million people at risk of starvation, up to 3 billion at risk of running out of water, and threaten forests all over the place. Curiously, before this blog could react with a posting, the page was revamped and all that bad news, except for the 3 degrees, was deleted. Very curious. But, as the old saying has it, truth will out. The full horror will come, ultimately, from official mouths. When, of course, it is many decades too late to do even a blind bit about it.

Sir David's expectation that we will reach 500 parts per million of carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere should be enough to scare everyone. That is twice the 280ppm we had before we started burning solid black stuff (coal) in 1795, and way above the 380ppm we have got to now by adding liquid black stuff (oil). And at that level, said a high-powered scientific convention in London at the start of 2005, there was no safe increase. 380ppm is already monumentally insane: unadulterated, unstoppable global vandalism. So what do you call 120ppm past the point of no safe increase. What word is there for beyond insanity?

To say that 500ppm will bring an increase of only 3 degrees Celsius on average over the whole planet is beyond optimism. As this blog has already pointed out, the paleoclimatologists say that last time we had 380ppm the temperature was 6 degrees higher. The masking effect of solar-dimming and hysteresis have kept that to 0.6 degrees, so the worst scenarios of computer modelling--of 10 degrees of more--look a serious prospect. That means the meltdown of polar and glacial ice will be much faster than the optimists like to think.