Global Warming And Our Weather

December 27, 2013 11:16 am

Recently, the world’s weather has been completely unpredictable, and that’s putting it lightly. The United Kingdom’s weather last summer and the summers for around five years before that, were a complete wash out, with torrential rain and widespread flooding. Then this summer was scorching, reaching 30 degrees in some lucky areas, and now, Britons are wrapping up again and fighting with energy bills, in anticipation of what some say might well be the coldest winter since 1946.

In other countries, the erratic weather has done more harm than just damage homes and livelihoods, it has cost tens of thousands of lives. Words cannot contextualise the horror that the people of the Philippines witnessed when Typhoon Haiyan claimed lives at a horrifyingly exponential rate. It is going to take years for livelihoods to recover and homes to be rebuilt, but the mourning for lost loved ones will take a whole lifetime.

Mexico has also recently been battered by two typhoons which merged into a supersized storm, killing dozens, and forcing the government to rethink its economic output goals because of the damage to businesses. Sardinia, moreover, saw freak flooding most recently, when the islanders had half a metre of rain in less than 24 hours. That’s more rainfall than they would usually expect to see in half a year. Torrents of floodwater swept cars from roads as the swollen rivers finally gave way and burst their banks.

Why?

So why is there a change in the weather? Is it to do with man-made global warming or is the earth just going through a strange patch; after all, there have been many ice ages in the past 2.6 million years, and that’s pretty freakish weather if you ask me.

I have to say, I’m undecided on this one, yet it is a fascinating question to ask yourself. Scientists who say that man-made global warming will happen, whether we like it or not, have warned that the weather will become more erratic and harder to predict.

For example, the Philippines are used to many typhoons each year, but what was the game-changer was the sheer size and destructive winds experienced on that day. Scientists have predicted that in areas usually used to bad storms and typhoons, with the sea warming up, their destructive power will increasingly worsen. This is due to the bigger temperature change from the hot air rising from warmer seas, and the cooler air in the atmosphere; a bigger temperature change means more violent clashes between hot and cold air, which creates a bigger storm.

The UK’s erratic weather could simply be put down to it being an island climate. However, meteorologists have warned of a change in position of the jet stream because of global warming, which, until now was what kept our weather somewhat more predictable than it otherwise would be. This change could signify that the UK sees colder winters and wetter summers in the future.

Sceptics

Sceptics to man-made global warming would argue that the weather has changed and evolved throughout history. With countless ice ages, and continents drifting away or towards each other, the world’s landmasses have changed and the weather systems with them.

I think that they have a point, but only to an extent. The changing environment around us will always leave us second-guessing the weather; it always has and always will do. Yet I think we should be careful to ignore experts’ warnings that this change in the weather is being forced along by human activity.

Why should we worry, I hear you ask, if the weather was going to change anyway? I think we should be concerned because our lack of consideration to the environment could irreversibly change it. We could set something in motion that we hadn’t banked on – be it global warming or global cooling. If we change something to the extent that it gets ever-worse, I don’t think this planet will be so inhabitable anymore.

Why has the weather been so unpredictable? Can we stop these weather systems’ severity through limiting carbon emissions? Or would it change nothing? I haven’t attempted to answer many questions here, but have put an emphasis on asking them. The main reason to this is that I don’t know the answer; yes we could be worrying about nothing. But I believe that it’s vital to continue the discussion about climate change, because it is certainly happening, meaning a severe loss of habitat for many species. In a way, I think we have a moral duty to be aware of what we’re doing to the other species that we co-inhabit this planet with, because I don’t think any of us wish to be responsible for ruining it for everyone and thing.

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