Climate Change – Whodunnit?

Whenever consensus starts to appear, I often get worried that we are missing something.  And so the debate on global warming appears to be settling on the side of the man-induced factors with increased emissions of carbon dioxide fuelling the greenhouse effect – something I first heard about in the early 80’s at uni and more recently canvassed well by Tim Flannery in the Weather Makers.  But are the IPCC and Stern reports right?  Are there other factors at play? 

Climate change has occurred in the recent past due to non-man induced factors.  Times like the Little Ice Age of 300 years ago, the medieval warming of 1000 years ago, the extended drought that many people suspect caused major human societies to fail (Maya in 800AD, Mesopotamia about 1400BC, etc).

We know that changes in solar activity affect global climate – the Maunder Minimum, a period of low solar activity, equates to the Little Ice Age.  But other causes such as stated in this article could include impacts of cosmic rays from exploding stars and how they induce increased cloudiness and a cooler world.  The recent high amount of solar activity is postulated to have created a magnetic field that reduces the amout of cosmic radiation and results in reduced cloud formation and warmer temperatures. 

This is not to deny that greenhouse gases do not play a role.  We should invoke the precautionary principle and learn from the climate-induced collapse of previous societies.  We are pushing the carrying capacity of the Earth as our population and lifestyle increases and the consequent increased resource demands.  Any alteration to our climate patterns, even to the extent of another Little Ice Age would drastically alter human society.  We are ill-prepared for any eventuality in future climate shock, be it anthropogenic or not. 

And what to do?  Systems thinking and involving ordinary people in a dialogue is not a bad start as outlined in a recent article in New Matilda.


3 Responses to Climate Change – Whodunnit?

  1. David Montgomery says:

    I think the gases which are most culpable are those produced as hot air by the numerous so-called stakeholders attempting to espouse their views on what is and what is not climate change and consequently their solution for tackling it.

    Perversely, none of us will be here to see the consequences of our actions so arguably it is a theoretical debate for us at present. However, from the day man stopped scavenging for food and started cultivating the land we began the process of tinkering with the natural ecology of the Earth. Fast forward a few thousand years and we are all driving cars, guzzling petrol, having every sort of electronic device you never even knew you needed, buying food that has been sourced on one side of the world and transported thousands of miles so that you can have strawberries on Christmas Day — and we wonder what’s causing imbalance?

    Species continued to become extinct yet the only significant change for Man has been that his appendix became vestigial organ. Perhaps this has led us to the misguided belief that we will always survive.

    Must away and hop into my zillion litre fast car to take me half a mile down the road to network with my mates at the pub!


  2. Have recently re-watched a tape of the 4 Corners ABC production of 28 August 2006 on Climate Change. It shows the denialist and sceptic stand of our PM at the time compared with business and the community wanting to do something about it. This show preceded the tipping point which occurred perhaps in September 2006 on global warming in Australia following the Al Gore movie release and his visit, this 4 Corners special, the speech by Ian Lowe to the National Press Club, the drought, etc.
    There is no doubt that environmental issues are far more topical and important in relation to economic issues now that a year ago, and it will be most interesting to see how this plays our in this election year.

  3. Checkout under category Catastrophic Climate Change.

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