Storms, hurricanes, tornados and volcanic eruption, are some of the stories on which the media thrive on, eager to be the first one to bring breaking news story to share with the rest of the world. Almost every day, there will be a new story related to natural disasters somewhere in the world. According to some scientists, humans are the main contributes; these disasters are somehow linked to climate change and global warming. Global warming is the overall warming of the planet, which is based on average temperature over the entire surface. Whereas, climate change is the regional climate characteristics, including temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind and severe weather events (Warburton 2001, p.5). Warburton on p.47 goes on to explain, the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation have both resulted in a steady rise in CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Along with the emission of other gases, known collectively as ‘greenhouse gases’ these have resulted in an overall warming effect to the atmosphere.
Thanks to the media, millions of viewer became aware of the impact which climate change can have upon the world’s population. But can the media be trusted because most of the times the media does not tell the whole story, it only informs the public about what the government wants them to hear. It is dedicated to making our society feel guilty about its wealth and materialism, and to using the powerful levers of government to for us to adopt lifestyles it thinks are best(Suttell 2007). Due to too much information, there are many conflicting views on whether human activity is leading to climate change and further to global warming. Warburton (2001) explains:
“The consequences of global warming are unclear and have caused much controversy (p.57)
Whereas, Ian Stewart (2007) warns us of the dangers of global warming and climate change. He explains that humans operate on a different timescale to the planet. In changing this world we are altering every environment that allowed our species and civilization to flourish. Just like the dinosaurs, we can’t cope with sudden change. This time it is us, not dinosaurs who are top of the food chain. So all this stuff about ‘saving Planet Earth’ is nonsense that’s not the problem. Planet Earth does not need saving. For four and a half billion years the Earth has been a survivor. It’s not the planet we should be worried about. It’s us. In order to agree or disagree with Stewart, this assignment will look at the contributing factors that have resulted in climate change from the scientific, meteorological, and geographical and the media views of climate change and the impact it has and will have upon humans and other species in the world.
it wasn’t until 1980’s that Global warming, was seen as a serious threat to the world, this belief was sensationalised by the politician Margaret Thatcher(lecture notes).This decade became known as the era of anthraposcene- era of human intervention.
Along with the threat of global warming also arrived new technologies and new gadgets which allowed meteorologists to record data and predict the weather pattern for the next few days, years or even centuries. Our knowledge of Earth’s climate history is being supplemented with the help of such new scientific tools as solar- monitoring satellites and mass spectrometer measurements of oxygen and isotopes. These are allowing the Earth itself to tell us about its climate history for the first time. This new technology has also allowed meteorologist to see what is happening to planet earth via satellites. Meteorologists discovered changes in the ozone layer, which they believe are connected with the green house effect, which again they believe may lead to global warming (Law and Smith 1993, p.44). Other statistical information has also been collected; both from recent historical records and contemporary sources, changes in the levels of CO2 and temperature have become apparent (Jones 2003, p.98). Warburton (2001) adds, in 1990, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) used mathematical models to predict a 3 C increase in temperatures by 2100. but (Jones and wigley 1990) cited in Graves and Reavey(1996,p.16) noticed that since the 19th century there have been temperature data avaliable from weather stations throughout the world, yet it is surprisingly difficult to compile an accurate picture of changes in world temperature over the last century. In 1990, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) used mathematical models to predict a 3 C increase in temperatures by 2100.
Whilst satellites can record data and predict what is likely to happen the next day, week, year or even a century, they are unable to tell how earth has managed to survive in previous decade. The real evidence can be found in earth itself, in ice cores and seabed sediment because they’re the most important long record proxies and among the most accurate, if treated properly (lecture notes). But if the public were suddenly convinced of the natural, moderate 1,500 year cycle, there would be a crushing impact on donations and grants to environmental advocacy groups and on the reputations of the journalist who wrote the global warming scare stories, along with professional starvation for many university departments, government laboratories, and whole divisions of NASA and EPA (suttell 2007). Furthermore the daily telegraph (2008), states, there is no link between weather patterns and C02 levels in the atmosphere. No serious meteorologist is positing such a link; but this hasn’t stopped plenty of journalist and politicians from trying to identify a villain, the better to sustain what one might call the anthropocentric fallacy: the belief that we ought always to be in control of events, and that disasters must be therefore someone’s fault. But, global warming may also be an example of positive feedback, a more rapid and potentially catastrophic disturbance to natural processes caused by human activities (Warburton 2001, p.51). By using and depending on technologies such as computers, fridge freezers, cars and then replacing the older model for a new model has resulted in endless rubbish dumps around the world, which contribute to diseases and spread harmful pollutants into the atmosphere. But Singer highlights, the fear that warming will lead to more diseases is based on a misunderstanding of history. The focus should be on prevention rather than the cure.
However, there still continue to be many different predictions as to what might happen to planet earth in the next 100 year. According to Barr (2007,p.6) some scientists say global warming will cause Earth to become a hot planet, while others say it will cause a premature ice age. Whereas, Lovelock (2006) explains that, the earth continually warms and cools. The cycle is undenaiable, ancient, often abrupt, and global. It is also unstoppable. This can be explained by taking a closer look at history and the ancient civilization, such as the Indus Valley, Diamond highlights;
The ultimate cause for civilization in certain places, or lack thereof, is not because of superiority or inferiority of one race over another, but rather because of the environment and climate of the people’s land.
The Indus valley civilization flourished for many years. The decline is one that is still unknown, but there are a few theories that have been put forward, such as climate change, invasion, salination, and migration. Using their survival techniques, both humans and planet earth survived many hardships in previous decades, but now that just seems an impossible task. Just the predicted theories of decline associated with the Indus valley civilization, there are no real theories which support the fact climate change and global warming are the result of human activities, which in turn can backfire and result in the destruction of the earths’ species, including humans, animals and plantation. Never the less, many theories continue to be formed, most of which state that the major contributers to global warming are carbon dioxide and pollutants released into the atmosphere (Waugh, 1995).the is no denying that the world’s population is on the rise and so too is the demand for more houese, transport and technology.This in turn is resulting in the many harmful pollutants that are being released into the atmosphere, the direct cause of climate change. Whereas, Warburton(2001,p.53) explains, In the table on p53 you can see that water vapour and clouds) are responsible for 97% of natural greenhouse effect but this is not something that is considered the output of human activities. But Jones (2003 p.98) argures, most people would agree that fossil fuels are responsible for climate changes to some extent. But, Warburton (2001) counteracts by explaining;
“Some scientists believe that if it were not for human interference and global warming, the earth would be approaching a cooler period and possibly another ice age”. (p.35)
Furthermore, Daily Telegraph 2009) states, if it wasn’t for global warming this cold snap would happen much more regularly. Even with global warming we will have a cold winter every so often. It sometimes rains in the Sahara but it is still a desert (Daily Telegraph, 2009) but from a scientific point of view, the facts are less contentious (earths dynamic system, p.246)
According to most scientists, the major consequences of global warming are the predicted world changes in climate and sea-levels. According to Henson ( 2006,p. 3) scientists have shown that the average surface air temperature of the Earth has shown an increase of about 0.8% over the past hundred years, he goes on to point out that scientists are fond of pointing out, Earth’s atmosphere has gone through countless temperature swings in its 4.5 billion years. In Warburton (2001, p.55) scientist further explain that a bloom marine life caused by a rise in temperature or more sunlight may lead to the removal of large quantities of atmospheric co2. This co2 fall to the sea floor when marine organisms die, causing an in balance in the system. As a result, climate will cool due to the loss of the warming influence of the atmospheric co2… other variable are also involved, for example, scientists suggest that, during an ice age, iron from wind-blown dust may reach the oceans. This nutrient could encourage the growth of plankton, leading to further removal of atmospheric co2. But Henson (2003) states, these temperature swings can be attributed to many natural forces, e.g. volcanic eruptions, variations in the earth’s orbit. Research scientists now argue that, although the overall temperature changes are not proof of human-made global climate change, there is growing evidence (Warburton2001, p.52).But whatever the cause, there is no denying that as a result of world change in climate and sea-levels, which results in precipitation. Precipitation refers to the many ways in which moisture fall s from the atmosphere…details of precipitation form an important part of weather forecasts.(Warburton 2001,p.106) this the results in similar occurrence to the el Niï¿½o, such as draughts and floods.
El Niï¿½o causes climatic disturbances when sea surface temperatures in the south eastern tropical Pacific are abnormally high. Usually, the warm waters are restricted to the western tropical Pacific, where temperatures are higher than the eastern waters of coastal Peru and Ecuador by more than 10 degrees Celsius. The air pressure is low over the warmer waters and moist air rises, resulting in the clouds and heavy rainfall typical of south eastern Asia, New Guinea, and northern Australia. In the eastern Pacific, the water is cold and air pressure is high, creating the characteristically arid conditions along coastal South America. In the east cold water rises to the surface as warm surface water is a pushed westward by the trade winds blowing from east to west. (Waterpage 2000, online).
The oceans temperature, results in floods, which cause destruction of humans, animals and plants. But research scientists now argue that, although the overall temperature changes are not proof of human-made global climate change, there is growing evidence (Warburton2001, p.52). This can be compared to events in history, such as Mesopotamia and Indus valley civilization, when the population was considerably lower than it is now. Nor were there any new technologies which released harmful pollutants into the atmosphere, to weaken not only the earth’s defence mechanism but weaken other species will to survive as well.
What natural disasters destroy, humans have to rebuild in order to survive. new habitations are built on grounds where floods were liable to happen. This in turn results in cutting down of trees and starving the land of solid soil. Posser (1992, p.243) explains, extensive deforestation of the steep Himalayan slopes in Nepal has caused accelerated runoff and erosion. The effects are being felt well beyond the Nepalese border as the floods surges and sediment load move down the Ganges and become contributory factors in the recurrent disasterous Bangladesh floods of the Ganges delta. What happens in one place can sometimes have a direct impact on others in the world, i.e. relatives stuck in such areas, with no communication. Warburton (2001) further highlights:
People interact with the atmosphere; we do not just passively receive the but also, through our activitirs, we modify stmospheric processes (p.8)
Not only are humans losing their homes, livelihoods and basic instincts to survive, they are also loosing vital oxygen supply, and animals which they need for survival. According to Singer, any future famines will be humanity’s fault- caused by war, corrupt governments or irrational opposition to new technologies- not the fault of the climate. As a result of new homes and industries being set up many animals have had to relocate their homes. Species of native mammal lived in the wheatbelt before European settlers arrived. Thirteen of these species have disappeared from the region and nine of those thirteen are extinct on the Australian mainland. This sheds further light on the fact that human activity does play a role in climate change. But according to Warburton (2001) studies are usually quite restrictive in that they focus mostly on circumstances in developed countries and perhaps some tropical countries. However, there is not much information records about the weather elements in remoter areas such as the oceans which make up such a large percentage (I think it’s about 70%) of the Earth. Along with the fact, there is a problem in integrating the findings from studies around the world.
The concluding thoughts are, there is no doubt that for millennia, humankind has exploited the Earth without counting the cost (Lovelock 2006, p.161). meteorologist, scientist have and still are using advanced technology to assess and try to slow down the process of global warming at a large scale. Yet the media still paints un clear picture of the future, for example, uncertainty in how warm it will get, how rainfall levels will be affected, and so. It is becoming difficult to assess because there is so much complexity in the natural processes that are involved. As (Jones and wigley 1990) cited in Graves and Reavey(1996,p.16)explain, since the 19th century there have been temperature data available from weather stations throughout the world, yet it is surprisingly difficult to compile an accurate picture of changes in world temperature over the last century.
There is no question about what needs to done on behalf of the humans. If they are to survive the predictions of scientists and meteorologists on global warming leading a big freeze in the temperature, because according to Singer, history, science, and our instincts tell us that cold is more frightening than warmth.
The frightening concluding thought is; the new technology that bought the news of global warming is becoming part of humans’ daily lives and is thus restricting them to operate on a level which they do not find possible to do with this technology. The earth can survive as lovelock and Stewart point out Gaia, the living and self regulating Earth will look after itself as always. It is hubris of us to think otherwise. We should not worry about earth we should be more worried about how we will survive what nature has in store for us.
Barr, G. (2007) Climate change: is the world in danger? Oxford: Heinmann
Henson, R. (2006) the rough Guide to climate change. London: routledge
Jones, G. (2003) people an environment: a global approach. Harlow: Prentice Hall
Lovelock, J. (2006) revenge of Gaia.
Prosser, R. (1992) Natural system and Human response. Walton-on-Thames: Nelson
Suttell (2007) Weathermen cool to global warming. Crain’s Cleveland business.
Warburton, P. (2001) Atmospheric processes and human influence. 2nd Edition. London: Collins Education
The water page. [Online], Available:
www.africanwater.org/el_nino.htm [05 may 2010]