People’s Climate Marches took place on 21st September 2014 in 166 countries uniting millions of people in 2800+ events to focalize attention on Climate change. UN Climate Summit starting 23rd September with 100+ heads of state from around the world.
The two biggest factors in ‘climate’ are: Temperature + Water. The HEAT and WATER available. These two are at the origin of climatic conditions. This is not to be confused with climactic conditions (although a lot of people feel we’re headed for a climax). Temperature and water come in various forms and cause varied phenomena: humidity, precipitation, sunshine, cloudiness, and winds.
Temperature: The two key heat sources in play are:
- The 6000 degree Celsius interior of the Earth
- The 15,000,000 degree Celsius heat of the sun just 8 minutes away at the speed of light.
Water: There’s a fixed total amount of H2O associated with planet Earth
Nobody really knows how it got here, but that’s another story. The point is the quantity never changes, although the form water takes can be liquid, solid, vapor.
Man has NO control or means to intervene on either of these fronts.
This mass of heat and water ‘meets and reacts’ in five major areas:
- Lithosphere: Rocky crust or outer shell of the Earth, the outer part of the 6000 degree core
- Hydrosphere: All the water under, in and above the Earth’s crust.
- Cryosphere: Earth’s poles where water is solid ice. Most don’t realize the tremendous effect the heat/water equation plays here.
- Atmosphere: Layers of gases around earth that protect us from nauseous sun rays and also warming the earth by retaining heat from the sun.
- Biosphere: This is all life on earth: plants, animals and man and their effect on heat and water
It is the interaction of the forces in these five ‘spheres’ that determine Earth’s climate.
We’re not talking about ‘weather’ which is local atmospheric conditions. For instance, the ‘windward’ side of an elevation, a mountain where the wind causes hot air to rise, forming clouds giving precipitation with lush green growth. The ‘leeward’ side of the mountain gets little or no rain and has drier weather with more barren ground cover.
Another local phenomenon can be altitude. In the Reunion on the coast where I spent a few days, you can have 35 degrees and boil on the beach or you can drive for 30 minutes up the volcanic ridges, just a few hundred metres of altitude, to a more clement 20 degrees Celsius where you don’t need the humming air conditioner all night long.
In the above five major players to do with climate change, it’s what I call 4+1. Four areas that are ‘givens’ and one area that is the ‘giver’. The four givens are:
- lithosphere: Earth’s crust under our feet
- Hydrosphere: The water cycle
- Cryosphere: The icy poles
- Atmosphere: The air around and over our heads
The one ‘giver’ in the climate picture is the biosphere and even here there are ‘givens’ and a ‘giver’: the givens are animals and plants. THE (in capitals) ‘giver’ is MAN. Mankind, 7 billion human being including you and me.
When you get right down to the bottom line, humans are front and center in the climate change situation. Man alone can leave a lasting imprint on the lithosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, atmosphere, fauna and flora. Man alone has this power of impact to alter the face of the Earth. The Explanation exposes both what these forces are, how they function including and especially how man functions and his relationship to Earth.
I will add one major point here, that of volcanoes which would be part of the ‘lithoshpere’. Some would say that of and by themselves they produce more CO2 than man’s combined combustion of oil, coal and technology.
You can read this articles dating from 2007 that explains this dilemma. You’ll see that volcano production of sulfur and carbon dioxide is far inferior to that of mans. In fact it’s less than 1%.
The long and the short of our climate situation today is the biosphere, and particularly man and his influence on the lithosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere and atmosphere.
It is quite incredible to realize that puny mankind can manipulate and pressure the dominant forces of nature. In the next post I will highlight some of these colossal forces of nature like floods, hurricanes and lightning.
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