While most of us can intuitively understand the relationship between a hotter planet and more intense tropical storms, droughts, forest fires and glacial melting, some of the effects of a hot, high carbon atmosphere are less tangible. A cursory glance at the geological record reveals that it doesn’t take much to upset the fine balance of processes that drive the climate, and the slightest shift can have a domino effect resulting in bizarre consequences that seem totally unrelated to the original cause. Here we look at four of the more unusual effects of anthropogenic climate change on the planet. Continue reading “Four Unusual Horsemen – Weird Consequences of Climate Change”
With increasing public awareness of climate change and carbon emissions, much attention is given to the ‘big boys’ of pollution – energy and transport. But how many of us realise that the internet is also a major producer of emissions? Or that the emissions from the internet are growing rapidly as the online world expands and becomes more data intensive? I spoke to the Managing Director of Wholegrain Digital, Tom Greenwood, who is actively working to reduce the emissions of the internet, to find out more.
What fundamental pillar has underpinned every civilisation from Ancient Egypt to the modern globalised world? The one called agriculture. After all, without food there can be no people; and when food is insufficient, populations collapse. So it should come as no surprise that the rise and fall of many past civilisations can be directly tied to their agricultural production, which in turn depends on water supply and – by extension – climate 1.
Continue reading “Apocalypse Then…Apocalypse Now? – Three civilisations caught out by climate change”
With an ongoing drought in South Africa, the authorities in Cape Town are counting the days off till ‘day zero’, predicted to be sometime in early July 1, when the water runs out. Until then residents are having their water rationed in efforts to ensure reserves stretch as long as possible. Undoubtedly the situation has both a climate and management component, but climate change is likely to make many areas of the world increasingly dry and droughts increasingly frequent 2. Continue reading “When The Wells Run Dry – Groundwater and the challenges of sustainability”
Extinction is a natural part of life and evolution. However, there have been several episodes in Earth’s history when the rate of extinction increased dramatically. Perhaps the most infamous of these events was the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
That was the fifth great extinction event the planet has witnessed, but the current rate of extinction (a rate that has persisted since the end of the last ice age) puts this period – the here and now – firmly in the ‘mass extinction’ category. Yes, we are living through the sixth great extinction event Continue reading “A Beastly Burden – Fourteen Extinctions of the 21st Century”
One thing which both climate scientists and climate sceptics can agree on is that the climate has changed in the past and that changes in climate can be natural. However, that climate change has occurred in the past does not mean that current climate change is natural. That assertion is equivalent to pointing to the existence of lung cancer before the discovery of tobacco as evidence that smoking can’t possibly cause lung cancer. Nonetheless understanding how and why the climate has changed in the past is important to understanding how and why it is changing now. Continue reading “What Drives Climate Change? – Forcings and Feedbacks”