Frequently Asked Questions
1. Isn't global warming a good thing for UK
as it's too cold most of the time?
A little warming sounds attractive for some countries in temperate regions, but can
have a disastrous effect in large areas of the world - more desertification, increased
intensity of weather systems, fires, flooding etc.. Although the UK may warm up initially,
in the longer term it may cool due to modification of atmospheric and oceanic flows.
[Update 9/2007] A raised temperature would tend to increase incidence of the Bluetongue
A rise of say 1 deg C in the earth's mean yearly surface temperature cannot be
considered in the same way as the hardly perceptible fluctuation of 1 deg C in local
day-to-day temperatures. Instead, it indicates a large increase of energy stored in
land, oceans and the atmosphere. I estimate an additional thermal energy of 1.6 x
10 to the power of 20 Joules in the lower 1000m of atmosphere - equivalent to the
energy content of about 1,000,000,000,000 gallons of petrol. So it may be prudent
to keep a wind-resistant umbrella handy!
Feb 2020: after Storms Ciara and Dennis, it seems keeping a boat, hill, mountain,
but not flood plain, close at hand would be useful.
2. Why should I bother recycling and saving energy, I'll be dead long before
the earth becomes uninhabitable?
I won't try to answer that one.
3. What is your Ecological Footprint as calculated by http://www.myfootprint.org/
My result was: 4.7 hectares, "if everyone lived like you (ie me), we would need
[Note 6/2016: this used to be a free website but now requires a subscription, other
sites calculating EF may be available]
4. Isn't global warming due to sunspots and cosmic rays?
According to a Channel 4 TV program "The Great Global Warming Swindle" (March
2007), this is the case. It was emphasised that the sun, particularly sunspot cycles,
drive global temperature changes and not CO2 levels.
I doubt if anyone would argue that the sun's activity is of paramount importance but,
as the program itself explained, the greenhouse effect also influences global temperature
(otherwise earth would be frozen and uninhabitable).
Assuming constant radiation levels from the sun, changes in greenhouse gas concentrations
(water vapour, CO2, methane etc.) would modify the
greenhouse effect, and thus affect the earth's surface temperature. Because CO2
is a greenhouse gas, it's difficult to see how it's concentration in the atmosphere
will not effect surface temperatures.
A statement was made in the TV program: "... climate is controlled by clouds,
clouds controlled by cosmic rays, cosmic rays controlled by the sun ". I would
be interested to know to what extent cosmic rays control clouds ... and vapourise
sea water (as was also reported). There's little doubt cosmic rays have some effect,
and while they may be interesting, we probably shouldn't level too much blame on them
for enhanced global warming on the evidence given.
5. Residents should pay for the amount of waste put in their dustbin for
As many have pointed out this will encourage fly tipping, and some people may put
their waste in someone else's bin. So, couldn't local authorities pay us
for recycling? This would be in the form of a partial rebate on a fixed service charge,
admittedly assessing the rebate value of items for recycling would be a challenge.
This scheme could encourage fly-tip scavenging rather than fly tipping, but there
could be some job losses in the litter gathering business.
6. Are these really Frequently Asked Questions or did you invent them?
If you have a comment, question,
or (preferably) answer please send
it to me and I may include it in this section (with your permission and credit).