Does Climate Change Really Matter?
Posted on 22 September 2010 by Kevin Judd
Guest podcast by Kevin Judd
(a transcript of a radio podcast)
Climate scientists are telling us that the earth's average temperature is going to rise 2 to 3 degrees over the next 50 to 100 years. But does it really matter that temperatures will rise this much?
You might think that this rise tempertures only means that winters will be a little milder and summers a little hotter, which does not sound like something to be bothered about. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. The effects you are most likely to experience is an increase in extreme weather. For example, an increase in extreme heat-waves in summer, and at other times an increased likelihood of heavy rain, hail, and high winds, that lead to flooding and wind damage. In higher latitudes heavier snow falls are expected too, which might seem contradictory, but it is not.
So why does global warming cause an increase in storms? Big storms and extreme weather require a lot of energy to drive them. You might know that a pot will simmer on the stove for long time, but turn up the heat just a little, and it soon boils over. The same happens for big storms on earth. The additional heat from global warming means that the weather will more often boil-over into very big storms.
We are already seeing this happen. Insurance companies, who keep careful records of damaging storms, have seen the frequency of big storms triple in the last 30 years. Big storms that used to occur only once every one hundred years are now ocurring about every 30 years. Similarly, heat-waves are more common and severe, which, of course, means more wild fires.
Scientists cannot attribute to climate change any one extreme weather event, like say the recent hail-storm in Perth, or the flooding in Pakistan, but the trend to increasingly extreme weather can be directly attributed to global warming.
Anyone who tells you that you and future generations are not going to be effected by the consequences of climate change, either does not understand how weather and climate works, or is being deliberately misleading.
In my next segment I will consider what we can all do to prevent the damaging effects of climate change.
NOTE: this post is also being "climatecast" by Kevin Judd on RTR-FM 92.1 around 11.30 AM WAST today. You can listen to a streaming broadcast of RTR-FM online via http://www.rtrfm.com.au/listen. Please keep in mind that these podcasts are intended for a general audience and required to be less than 3 minutes.