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Climate Change Themes

Someone recently asked me to explain climate change. I wanted to bring together both the science and the responsibility issues, which are too often separated from each other. So I created this page, to help us think clearly about climate change.

The page covers half-a-dozen of the main themes that have been discussed in various places over the past twenty years. In each theme, a summary is presented of some main issues therein. Though still incomplete, it might help you decide what to include in talks, publications or discussions.

They are all equally important, so the order they are presented here does not imply an order of importance, in either direction.

As time goes on, I intend to add more, and also hope to add links for each, to detailed source material. If anyone wishes to add something, please email me. Thank you.

Theme: The Physics and Chemistry of Climate Change

1. Rise in CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere leads to rise in energy in the atmosphere and oceans.

2. This is because when these gases increase in the atmosphere, the rate at which energy is radiated from the Earth out into space reduces. Since the average rate of energy received from the Sun does not change, this results in more energy being retained here.

3. This increased energy is manifested in increased kinetic activity like storms and winds, and increased temperature (which is why some call it "global warming"). This changes the major wind patterns around the globe. (The latter is why it is called "global warming" even though the change in wind patterns will lead to some places being cooler.)

4. The increase in both increases the temperature of the oceans.

5. In polar regions all this results in increases in temeperature of ice and frozen land.

6. Both of these are likely to result in "positive feedback".

Recommended book: John T. Houghton, 2015. Global Warming: The Complete Briefing. Cambridge University Press.

If you don't know of better sources, see also some earlier science (2009) on this - which is still largely valid.

Theme: Damage that Climate Change will Do

We cannot predict the future precisely, but the following damages are likely:

Theme: Causes of Rise in Greenhouse Gases and/or Global Temperatures

Most of the causes in the rise in greenhouse gases are human activities. Here are some of the main human causes:

Some are natural, but they add to the human causes.

The implication is that we have a responsibility to reduce each and every one of the human causes.

Theme: Who Is Responsible: Developed and Developing World

Theme: Responsibilities to Whom?

When people talk about responsibilities, they often focus on just one target for these responsibilities, such as "future generations". Whenever I think about climate change, I like to think about a different responsibility to each of the following in turn:

Theme: What Responsibilities

"The government should ...", "The rich should ...", and so on. Many participants in Climate Change discourses emphasise one or other of these. In fact all the following have responsibilities and they are linked together.

It is no use each of these denying or shirking its responsibility by pointing to the responsibilities of others. It is no solution to act only on one of these. We need action on every one.

Notice the reinforcing cycles: individuals affect business and governments, even though they are controlled by the wealthy, and the media influences individuals.

Notice the recurring theme of aspirations and expectations. The root problem seems to be attitudinal and ideological-religious. It takes courageous individuals to take action against the stream even at their own expense or sacrifice to make a radical change.

Courageous individuals in the ordinary population, in industry, in government, among the wealthy, and in the media. Each one of us.

This page, "", is an expression of part of a project to understand the links between climate change, global economy and other matters including society's beliefs and aspirations. It is designed to stimulate thinking and discourse. Comments, queries welcome.

This page is written on behalf of the CCGE Group by Andrew Basden, but the views expressed herein are his and not necessarily those of the other members of the Group. Written on the Amiga with Protext in the style of classic HTML.

Created: 14 October 2019 Last updated: 15 October 2019 slight clarifications, plus purpse. 9 March 2020 contents list at start, and some rewrite; removed copyright restriction.