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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Friday, 18 December 2009


Those who say that the changes in climate, average global-temperature, and weather are not man-made are dead wrong. The facts are irrefutable, the reasoning from them is irrefutable, and therfore the conclusion is irrefutable. The argument is so simple it is beyond denial, even for the worst prat-headed denial-addict on the planet.

A mixture has the characteristics of its components. The behaviour of a mixture is determined by its components and their proportions. Every cook on the planet knows that. Change the ingredients or change the proportions of the ingredients and the outcome will be different. The mixture will behave differently; its internal activity will be different.

The atmosphere is a mixture. That is undeniable. We have changed the characteristics of the mixture by putting in components that were not there before and changing the proportions of existing components, in particular carbon-dioxide. That is undeniable. For two hundred years we have been busily putting back into the sky massive amounts of carbon that were taken out of it many millions of years ago and put deep into the ground in the form of nice safe coal and oil. That is undeniable. We know how much carbon-dioxide we are pumping into the sky; it is a simple calculation--at present over 9 billion tonnes a year. That is undeniable. Before we started using the sky as an open sewer for the waste gases from coal and oil, carbon-dioxide was 280 parts per million. Now it is 390ppm. That is undeniable. That is a massive change--about 40%--in the proportions of a very important ingredient. That is undeniable. The ingredient we have increased is one that traps heat, like the glass of a greenhouse. That is undeniable. After 4.5 billion years the Earth had reached a perfect equilibrium, and for the past 10,000 years it had not gone outside a one-degree band. Now it has. Before we changed the atmosphere the same amount of heat was being reflected back into space as was being received from the Sun. Now ~0.8 watts per square metre more is coming in than going out. Therefore the atmosphere is warming up, the average global temperature is rising, the polar ice is melting. That is all undeniable. The rise in temperature has been compounding at 1.5% per annum; the rise in carbon-dioxide has been compounding at 1.5% per annum. The correlation is no accident. That is undeniable.

In short, it is undeniable that human beings have changed the mixture called the atmosphere. We have therefore changed its characteristics and its behaviour, its internal activity. Weather is the short-term behaviour of the atmosphere; global climate is its long-term behaviour. We have caused a fundamental change in those behaviours.

That is undeniable.


For the latest data off the satellites, and records going back to 1880, click here.