The journal Scientific Reports shows that human caused climate change is affecting extreme weather

The 2016 AQA Religion and Life paper asked what problems were caused by climate change and today’s article in the Guardian underlines the way that weather patterns such as heatwaves, droughts and floods across the world had the fingerprint of climate change on them.

Large scale wind patterns are largely driven by the temperature difference between the poles and the tropics. But global warming is altering this difference because the Arctic is heating up faster than lower latitudes and because land areas are heating up faster than the oceans.

“It is not just a problem of nature conservation or polar bears, it is about a threat to human society that comes from these rapid changes,” he said. “This is because it hits us with increasing extreme events in the highly populated centres in the mid-latitudes. It also affects us through sea level rise, which is hitting shores globally. So these changes that are going on in the Arctic should concern everyone.”

Extreme-Weather-and-Climate-Change-Infographic

Linking climate change to extreme weather in a Religious Studies exam is a canny move, as you can then refer to its impact on people. Christians might be concerned as we’re born in God’s image; that the Parable of the Good Samaritan showed to Love thy Neighbour; that the Golden Rule wants us to do unto others as we would have them do to you; and that we should protect life as all life is sacred and holy (sanctity of life). Buddhists might be worried too about the extreme weather’s impact on people because the first precept is to not harm; they are concerned about metta (kindness); as well as compassion to others.

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Laws to reduce pollution might be less likely in USA

How might someone (possibly a person of faith  if we’re thinking GCSE RS but in reality anybody) reduce the effects of global warming; put a stop to climate change; conserve the environment; protect our world for the next generation?

In list form: pray, protest, sign a petition, give speeches, attend Earth Summits; join a political party, join an environmental pressure group such as Greenpeace, join a charity which cares for the environment like Christian Aid, give sermons in a place of worship reminding people of the importance of our earth… and try to get governments to make laws protecting the environment.

This might be less likely in the USA now that the US President has cut the funding of the Environmental Protection Agency and a Republican politician is contacting colleagues with the idea of getting rid of the Agency completely! It was President Nixon all the way back in 1970 who created the Environmental Protection Agency with the mission of: making sure the US “plays a leadership role in working with other nations to protect the global environment”.

Does the new US President believe in Climate Change?

Evidence 1: U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to remove the climate change page from its website.

Evidence 2: Trump’s nominee for for Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt accepted more than $250,000 in donations from the oil and gas industry over the course of four campaigns for attorney general, lieutenant governor and state senator. In a joint op-ed in the National Review, Pruitt wrote that the debate on climate change is “far from settled”, adding: “Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.”

Evidence 3: In 2012 Trump dismissed climate change as a hoax cooked up by the Chinese

Evidence 4: In May 2016 Trump said he would “cancel” the Paris climate change agreement, though in November 2016 he said he now had an “open mind” about the accord.

Evidence 5: President Trump has signed executive orders to allow two controversial oil pipelines to be built in the US which tie the country to years more dependence on fossil fuels and all the environmental damage the construction of the pipelines will bring.

Below is a diagram showing the link between greenhouse gases and climate change:

greenhouse-effect-09-2014

The best short video I’ve seen on the changes in the earth’s atmosphere is from a retro BBC Bitesize Science video lasting about 12 minutes.

Trump’s disinterest in the frightening consequences of global warming is in stark contrast to Pope Francis, leader of the Catholic church, who has called for urgent action to stop climate change.  Francis described man’s destruction of the environment as a sin and accused mankind of turning the planet into a “polluted wasteland full of debris, desolation and filth”. “Global warming continues,” the pope said. “2015 was the warmest year on record, and 2016 will likely be warmer still. This is leading to ever more severe droughts, floods, fires and extreme weather events. Climate change is also contributing to the heart-rending refugee crisis. The world’s poor, though least responsible for climate change, are most vulnerable and already suffering its impact. ”

drought-and-death-climate-change pope-francis

Mountains will become hills

The Ordnance Survey (OS) uses mean sea level as the starting point for measuring the absolute height of mountains, which must be at least 609.6 metres (2,000ft) above sea level. With rising sea levels there is a risk to numerous mountains which only just got classified as mountains by a few centimetres that they might get downgraded to hill.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Two mountains which are most at risk are Calf Top in the Yorkshire Dales and Thack Moor in Cumbria.  Calf Top only got classified a mountain in September when the OS determined its true height is a few centimetres taller than was concluded when it was last measured in 2010, putting it just over the required height for a mountain. Meanwhile Thack Moor is only 2cm over the 609.6 metre requirement.

Second Lowest Ice Cover in the Arctic

In 2016 it was recorded the second lowest ice cover in the Arctic (joint with what was recorded in 2007). The lowest was recorded in 2012 and being so low again sets off alarm bells for those measuring if climatic change is likely to bring about dangerous weather patterns around the world.

Ted Scambos, NSIDC lead scientist, commented: “It really suggests that in the next few years, with more typical warmer conditions, we will see some very dramatic further losses.”

This year’s minimum is seen as something of a surprise as scientists believed that the low atmospheric pressure and cloudy skies in June and July had slowed down the melt.

On Youtube you can watch short videos about the melting ice in the Arctic from both Al Jazeera and Video from Space with Nasa.

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