A comfortable life

Everyone wants to have a comfortable and fulfilling life, They want the same for their children and grandchildren.

Since the industrial revolution, human ingenuity and scientific invention has aimed to make our lives more comfortable and reduce the hardwork of subsistence farming. It has enabled a larger population to be supported than was possible when we were hunter-gatherers.

At what cost?

Initially to make life more comfortable, humans used the energy trapped in wood.  Burning wood, so long as each tree used is replaced by one planted, keeps the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere in balance. Trees (like all plants) take up CO2 when they are growing and use it to form wood and leaves. They release it when they are burned or decompose. Animals started to be kept in large numbers and put to work for humans pulling machines and providing energy and becoming our food. Animals produce CO2.

The industrial revolution, bringing an even more comfortable life at least for the wealthy few, was powered by digging up and burning the earth’s reserves of fossil fuels instead of just using living trees and plants. But using fossil fuel takes carbon that has been locked away underground by plants that existed millions of years ago and burns it which releases large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. Planting trees will absorb the carbon and trap it in the plant but many more hectares of land need to be forested to keep the CO2 levels in the atmosphere stable.

The opposite has happened. As well as burning fossil fuels and keeping vastly more livestock for food, vast acreages of forest have been cut down.

 

Fossil Fuel

Coal

Coal

Fossil Fuel

Natural Gas

Natural Gas

Fossil Fuel

Oil

Oil

Rising CO2

We know from past history and from the record in fossils and rocks that high CO2 levels in the atmosphere mean hotter temperatures on average and more violent, unpredictable and dangerous weather. Hotter temperatures will melt the ice caps at the Poles and sea levels will rise. High CO2 levels make the seas more acidic and damage the microscopic creatures that live there. The damage to the oceans and the hotter temperatures threaten human food supply and may make parts of the world uninhabitable by humans and will cause extinctions of other animals and plants.

CO2 levels are now higher than they have been for 55 million years. The rates in rise in CO2 since the 1970 are unprecedented, even in comparison with the massive injections of carbon to the atmosphere 55 million years ago, which led to a major warming.

Levels of CO2 in the atmosphere over the last 10,000 years

Levels of CO2 in the atmosphere over the last 10,000 years

Evidence from the past

Past climate changes occurring at 55, 120 and 183 million years ago can be related to geological events. But the Earth’s warming since 1970 is not related to anything recognisable as a geological cause (such as volcanic activity, continental displacement, or changes in the energy received from the sun). It is accepted by the Panel on Climate Change that the large part of the modern increase in CO2 is the result of burning fossil fuels, with some contribution from cement manufacture and some from cutting down trees.

What we must do

In order to ensure the earth remains habitable for the human population of 7 billion people, the growth in CO2 levels must be slowed, halted then reversed.

As this may no longer be possible, human populations will need to prepare to live in a more hostile environment. Food sources used now will become scarce or unavailable and there will be water supply problems.

We all need to prepare and take action to prevent this being the future for us and our children.

Climate Change

Hurricane

Hurricane

Climate Change

Drought

Drought

Climate Change

Mud Slide

Mud Slide