Imagine you live on a small spinning spherical ball located somewhere.
We don't know where or when. The ball is made up of a very hot molten rock core and
this is covered by a thin layer of solid rock plates. We'll call them
tectonic plates just to be in with the nerds. At the poles
there is a massive buildup of ice. The weight of this ice is holding
down the plates at the poles. The rest of the plates are held down by
piles of dirt and water. We'll call them continents and oceans, again
for the nerds. One of the great features of these ice piles is that
they are white and white reflects heat. So because they are cold and
because they are white they help to keep the temperature of the whole planet
within a range that is livable for a great many life forms. Fine, so
far so good.
When we look up into the sky it seems endless. In
actual fact the atmosphere around the ball is only about 10 miles high.
Hop into your car and you can travel that distance in less than 10 minutes on
a slow day.
Now let's say that one of the species starts emitting large
amounts of gas and filth into the atmosphere. This stuff affects the
ability of the atmosphere to get rid of heat. The ice on the poles
starts to melt. Slowly at first but then as the reflective ability of
the ice is reduced, at an ever accelerating rate. So the ice goes.
So what? Well there are a few consequences that will affect us.
Firstly the reduced weight of ice on the pole plates will cause them to rise
and when they do so they will cause the other plates to move too. We
can expect an increase in earthquake activity and the faster the melt the
bigger the quakes. the charts in the earthquake pages show this
increasing activity and although 2009 has been a relatively quiet year we
can only wonder if it is the precursor of a really big quake due to the
buildup of pressure.
Secondly our high school physics taught us that
when water freezes it gives off a huge amount of heat. so when it
thaws the same heat is required to liquefy it. All this heat has no
effect on the temperature of the ice.
It is called the latent heat of fusion and it is simply used to make the transition
between solid and liquid. Once we reach the liquid state then the heat
required to raise the temperature by a few degrees is miniscule.
But we still have the heat.
Let's not try to be scientists. Let's just use some common sense
and then draw our own conclusions about the future. I'll look at the
type of science we learned in high school.
Yeh, so if we already have enough heat to melt the ice on the poles then
what happens once the poles have melted? Well we still have the heat
and now we have no reflection to get rid of it so the temperature of the
ball goes ballistic. Now this is an accelerating process. A
little ice melts and the reflected heat is reduced slightly so the ice melts
a little faster and so on. Of course once the ice has even partially
melted the temperature is already rising and we or any other species of
plant or animal cannot survive outside if the temperature is much over 150
It takes about 80 calories to change 1 gram of pure ice at 0 deg. C to water at 0 deg. C. (That same amount of heat would raise the temperature of the 1 gram of water from 0 C to 80 C !)
Since these pages were first put up, there have been some
significant changes to the prognosis for future human existence on planet
earth. In particular the new book by Dr. James Lovelock, The
Vanishing Face Of Gaia. I've read it. Seems that our future will be pretty rocky. In spite of the warnings by the
scientists over the last 30 years, to date, nothing of consequence has been done. Lots of talk, no action. We have frittered away the time.
It is too late to fight climate change. It it already on us, and will for the most part, wipe us out.
Now, if your old like me, this is not really a problem but for my
grandchildren and their children the chances of survival will depend on
their ability to defend themselves and to adapt. Most do not
understand climate change and most will die prematurely because of
their ignorance. Most who read these words will have a good laugh, the
rest will have a slim chance of survival.
What's new for 2009, Copenhagen failure
What's new for 2010, More of the same, lots of talk, no
Let's kick start our thinking:
The symptom is CO2; The problem is population.