The Fundamentals of Climate Change

Whatever the local effect, the fundamentals are clear!

With All Climate Change, The Cause Is Fundamental

The underlying cause of all climate changes has been known for decades.

At The University of Adelaide, first year engineering students had lectures on global warming, later called 'climate change', and other lectures setting out the benefits Australia has at its feet as potentially the world's leading producer of hydrogen energy.

Adelaide University

University of Adelaide

To give the story the proper perspective, those lectures were in 1957!

In that context, it is easy to see the frustration of people who have known for almost a lifetime, that the climate is being constantly damaged, and at an increasing rate, by our human activities.

Climate science has, in the days since those early lectures, developed enormously, and become much more comprehensive. The elements, though, remain the same, and are easily understood.

While we don't feel or appreciate it, our world is spinning on its axis making it a giant centrifuge. Heavier gases like ozone and carbon dioxide are more likely to spin to the outer edges of the atmosphere, creating the ozone layer and the carbon dioxide blanket.

The ozone layer is a good thing, protecting us from intense UV from the sun. Back in the 1950s, smog in California gave a clue - and we found that we were damaging the ozone layer with our industry.

Emission controls on motor vehicles, which began in the 1960s, and later changes to our air-conditioning practices around the 1980s, are now helping the ozone layer to recover.

The Greenhouse Effect

The Greenhouse Effect

The carbon dioxide blanket is a good thing too, because it helps keep our world warm. Short-wave infra-red heat from the sun comes in, the longer wave infra-red radiated by the earth passes much less easily, and some of the incoming heat is trapped.

Aeons of evolution created a stable state in which we live, until the extensive use of fossil fuels began in the late eighteenth century.

Since then, carbon dioxide has been building up in the atmosphere (as demonstrated by polar ice core research), making the carbon dioxide blanket thicker, keeping in more heat, and making our planet warmer as a result.

Today, learning to understand how that global warming affects climates in various parts of the world, has become the core of climate research. For example, climate research can show us why and how the climate in eastern Australia is making bushfires worse as time goes by.

Understanding that level of detail is important, but the overall problem keeps getting worse. The underlying phenomenon, that of increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, is human induced and the root cause, and we know we can act to stop increasing that carbon dioxide.

Those who say that the climate is always changing can be taken seriously only if their memory extends to the early eighteenth century - plainly nonsensical - because we are in the latest times of 300 years of continually changing climates.

So everyone now living has had a lifetime of changing climate, because the human factors that bring about this change began almost 300 years ago.

Now the extent of those damaging, even devastating, changes is reaching what has been predicted. The time for ducking and weaving, and the time for 'spin' and obfuscation, is past.

When you realise that it was nearly sixty years ago that we took our first step to protect the ozone layer, then it was another twenty years before we took our second step, you see how slowly things change. Recovery of the ozone layer is on a knife edge and still not secure after sixty years.

Increasing greenhouse gases are already menacing lives. Our times are calling for us to act. Now!