9. Climate Change – Apocalypse Now

As this podcast and blog go live, the United Kingdom has been hit by a series of storms resulting in torrential rain and high winds, causing considerable flooding and damage. On the other side of the Atlantic, the US has similarly been struck with extreme weather events. This is just a snapshot of just two countries within one week in December 2015. It is therefore not a surprise that many people are starting to consider why these extreme weather events seem to becoming more and more common, and whether climate change is to blame.

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There is now considerable political and social movement towards providing a greener future, and reducing the effects of human-made (or anthropogenic) climate change. The recent adoption of the Paris Agreement, whereby a global agreement on the reduction of climate change, the text of which represented a consensus of the representatives of the 196 parties attending it, has brought the issues of climate change to the forefront of people’s minds. But what exactly is climate change? What will happen if we don’t stop it? Do we all believe its happening? What scientific evidence is there for it?

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For many scientists who study climate change, these last two questions can be frustrating. Whilst the field of climatology has had its share of scientific controversies, 97.1% of scientific literature holding a position on climate change supports the notion that human influence on the climate is negative. We hear lots of ‘dire consequences’ that may result from climate change, but what exactly will happen? Will we see dramatic sea level rises? A tsunami travelling through the streets of New York? Temperatures so low that the fuel in helicopters start to freeze?

 

 

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