I’m not the Liberal America climate change expert. We have other writers who stay very much on top of climate change topics and write about them frequently. As for me, guides like this short video are helpful. I like to share them with kids and climate deniers, too. I’ve put the transcript of the video below the video.
From the video description:
Danny Chivers, author of the New Internationalist No-Nonsense Guide to Climate Change, gives a whistle-stop tour of the science and impacts of climate change.
Check out www.nononsensevideos.org for references on everything in the video, great resources and ways to take action.
Buy Danny’s No-Nonsense Guide to Climate Change here: http://nin.tl/1at9sSo.
Why we’re heating up
Our story begins in 1896 when Nobel-prize winner Svante Arrhenius discovered that carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere traps the sun’s rays and keeps the planet warm.
So having some CO2 is great, because without it the earth would be a frozen lump of empty rock, the problem is that as CO2 increases the planet gets hotter. And ever since the industrial revolution we have been burning more oil, coal and gas, causing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, which is measured in parts per million, to shoot up from 290 back in the 18th Century to almost 400 today.
So according to the science we should be getting hotter. And we are. Over 7000 measurement stations around the world show that the Earth’s surface temperature has increased by one degree Celsius since 1880.
Keep in mind the last ice age, as in woolly mammoths hanging out in Europe ice age, was only five degrees colder than today.
Current Impacts of Climate Change
The words Global Warming may bring to mind a warm lavender scented bath, but the idea that things are just getting warmer is way too simple.
Our planet is a beautiful, interconnected system with huge circulating ocean currents and weather patterns that create the mostly comfortable climate that allows us to grow food and have enough drinking water.
But global warming is pumping loads of extra energy into the system in the form of heat and that’s messing with these weather patterns and causing unseasonably hot or cold weather. Like the frozen spring in 2013 that caused serious problems for farmers here in the UK or the droughts that caused major crop failures in the US and Russia in 2012.
More energy in the system from global warming means more floods, storms, and droughts.
The number of natural disasters per year has more than doubled since 1980, and that’s according to those radical environmentalists the big insurance companies.
More than a billion people rely on water supplies fed by mountain glaciers. If we don’t slow down global warming then these glaciers will rapidly shrink, threatening the freshwater supplies of tens of millions of people in places like China, Peru, and the United States.
Farmlands require just the right conditions. If we keep on changing the climate that’s going to mean more floods, droughts, rainstorms which could seriously impact on global food production.
Add to this a growing world population, and you’ve got a recipe for serious destabilisation or even war, as people and countries fight to secure food.
And then there are “tipping points” that could shove us into runaway climate change. Just one example is that global warming could dry out the rainforests increasing the risk of major fires which would release more CO2, and so speed the process even further.
There are a number of these tipping points and if we hit enough of them then climate change could spin entirely out of our control.
These are all just predictions, we can’t know the precise details of what will happen as the climate changes. However we also can’t know the precise details of what would happen if we released 200 angry gibbons into an air traffic control tower. But we do know enough to know that it’s probably not a good idea. To avoid those dangerous tipping points we need to get the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere down from 400 to 350 parts per million. This will require some serious changes in our societies, but it is still possible if we just get on with it.