photo credit : jo

Take It From Me
by Jo Abbess
24th April 2008

You should listen to the experts. If all decisions made by our governments were made on the sole basis of public debate, this country would collapse. Honest.

Do you honestly think that people who believe in the healing power of diluted water (for example) should be able to influence health services provision ?

I don't claim to be an expert on Climate Change. I'm not a Climate Scientist. But I have studied enough Science to be able to understand some of the research into Global Warming and Climate Change.

Although I cannot spell out the whole story, I do want you to take it from me : Climate Change is real, it's happening now, and mankind's activities are the largest factor in causing it.

I can also convey to you, with relayed authority, that there are high risks to the natural world, and all Life on Earth, from the progressive and emerging changes to the Climate that are taking place.

The evidence from events that are already happening confirms that the risks are not only real, but are becoming reality.

We have no option but to rein in and cap our use of Fossil Fuels, and dramatically reduce deforestation in the tropical regions of the Planet, amongst other vital measures, including the installation of Renewable Energy technologies, and changes in the use of land, food provision and water management.

This is a message of Life-saving environmental control. It is not, however, a message of austerity. If we properly address the Climate Change problem, and succeed, we will continue to enjoy the great riches and abundance of the natural world.

I want to explain a little about why I feel confident in asserting this message.

My university studies were in the Science of Natural Philosopy : otherwise known as Physics. I did rather well in (Micro) Electronics and Electromagnetics. For my final year project I built briefcase-sized equipment for the purpose of detecting magnetic resonance (you know, like those great big body scanners in hospitals).

During the work placement that was part of my course, I made alloys of various metals and constructed Thermoelectric devices. Amongst other things, I followed studies into Energy (including Nuclear Power), Thermodynamics and Materials Science.

The only reason I am not building high technology weapons for the Military is that I consider that making machines to kill people is unethical and I don't want to be a part of it.

I won't work in the Nuclear Engineering sector, either, for reasons of Entropy, which can be summarised as "the larger the mess, the larger the budget". I don't really believe that Nuclear Power can ever be economic, or clean. So, to all those headhunter agencies out there, please stop sending me text messages about Nuclear Engineer vacancies.

When I joined the workforce, I was initially working on a "civilian" project (i.e. not making equipment to kill people for a living), but when I was invited to worked on weapons technology, I had to desist from that employ. I suppose I could have oriented myself towards a career in Medical Technology, but instead I diverted into Information Technology.

One of the greatest things I learned from my studies was that it is important to try to understand the underlying physical processes in the forces and flows of Nature. I am no longer able to do the Mathematics to construct and solve the equations, but I am still able to work through in my mind the way things move and change and influence each other.

From the basic principles regarding the powers of the electromagnetic spectrum, I have to stop myself laughing out loud at people that claim that the invisible waves from cordless digital phone systems can harm them. It also explains why I pooh-pooh the quaint and frankly anti-technology notion that the signals from mobile phone masts might be killing bees.

I have been reading James Hansen et al.'s recent paper on Carbon Dioxide targets :-

It's been taking me a long time to absorb, and not only because I can't remember all the names for the geological periods of ancient history.

I have been trying to get a handle on the basic underlying processes of Global Warming that Hansen is attempting to describe. These are formed from deductions and inferences and calculations, from the empirical data from the distant past, data that has come from ice core sampling and other sources.

Hansen's team have concluded from their enquiries that the Climate signal from Global Warming, that is, the sensitivity of temperatures on Earth to changes in the chemical composition of the Atmosphere, is an average of SIX DEGREES CELSIUS or Centigrade of Earth Heating for a DOUBLING of Carbon Dioxide in the air.

For any Americans or old British fuddy-duddies, that equates to a little bit under ELEVEN DEGREES FAHRENHEIT of Earth Heating, as a global average, for DOUBLE Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere.

You must remember that easily verifiable models show that the Earth's Polar regions can warm much higher than at the Equator, which means if you're at mid-latitudes the heating may not as high as the whole six degrees, but even so, it could be a significant jump

Considering that before the Industrial Revolution, atmospheric Carbon Dioxide was at around 282 parts per million by volume, and that now it is close on 386 ppmv, a rise of nearly 40%, I think we should be paying attention :-

Don't give in to the smear tactics of sceptics/skeptics. Most of them are not scientists, and even those that are don't have any up-to-date expertise in Climate or Geophysical Science :-

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