Wyrd - OE: that which has become; fate-shaping; destiny-unfolding

Monday, 12 November 2012

Ten tall-tales from the skeptics – the come-backs to topple them

Photo Credit: WireWizard
First published on EarthTimes as "Ten tall-tales from the climate change skeptics

The devil has all of the best songs, so they say. And the climate-change denial camp have certainly banged out their tunes to good effect, over the last few years. It's not hard to see why the clamor of the climate skeptics has won more and more of those thronging in the stalls. But if you're caught out by one of those seductive refrains from the naysayers, what you need is counter-melody to cut them short. So what are the top-ten comebacks to the tall-tales often peddled by the denialist community?

1 Warming isn't really happening, it's all down to the 'urban heat-island effect'
The consensus that the planet is warming didn't just drop off of a graph of dodgily-placed thermometers. Yes, cities and towns are warmer than the countryside, and yes, urban areas have swallowed rural ones over the last century. But climate scientists try to correct for these when working out the globe's average temperature.

And the indicators that temperatures are rising come from a myriad of sources, not just land-based temperature records. Satellites, tree-rings, snow and ice-cores, stalactites and corals – all of these are used to piece together the global temperature record. And they confirm that the recent warming is unprecedented.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Black stain or clean climate?

First published on Earth Times as "Clean stoves could save lives and maybe the climate too"

Flecks of soot from a smoky open fire in India blacken more than just the roofs of the hut it is smoldering in. Fine particles of such smoke lodge deep in the lungs of women preparing meals, gifting them a dark scourge of ill-health and premature death. That same black soot floats higher into the air, where it helps to change the way clouds form - and so to warm the climate. Some specks may even end up coating ice in the frozen extremes of the planet, dulling their pristine surfaces, and hastening the melt of glaciers and ice-caps.

And recent reports suggest that the weakening monsoon in India, and unprecedented storms in the Arabian Sea, may owe their genesis to the smoggy brown clouds gathered over the Indian sub-continent. For such tiny little particles, soot appears to be having mammoth impacts, and in a host of different ways. But the problem of soot is not one of those tangled and knotted issues that needs an impossibly herculean effort to sort out. It may be that its dark legacy can be addressed by something as simple as a clean-burning stove.

From cooking to climate change

The problem of the gathering smoggy clouds over many parts of the developing world has been visible for decades. But only recently have all of the implications become apparent. Some of the particles making up the haze come from wildfires; some from coal-burning power stations; some from diesel-fumes, as urban traffic swells. But in many places, and especially in the Indian sub-continent, a large share comes from cooking stoves. It is thought that up to 3 billion people worldwide still cook over open fires or stoves, filling their homes, and the local atmosphere, with smoke. Maybe 800 million of these people are in India, in both cities and villages. And the sheer number of their cooking fires is helping to build up a 2 mile-thick hazy cloud over much of South Asia.