It’s all to do with the sun – for example, there is a strong link between the increased temperature on earth and the number of sunspots on the sun.
But what does the science – and the Royal Society – say?
Change in solar activity is one of the many factors that influence the climate but cannot, on its own, account for the change in global average temperature that we have seen in the 21st century.
Changes in the sun’s activity influence the earth’s climate through small but significant variations in its intensity. When it is a more “active” phase – as indicated by a greater number of sunspots on its surface – it emits more light and heat. While there is evidence of a link between solar activity and some of the warming in the early 20th century, measurements from satellites show that there has been very little change in underlying solar activity in the last 30 years. There is even evidence of a detectable decline – and so this cannot account for the recent rises we have seen in global temperatures. The magnitude and pattern of changes to temperatures can only be understood by taking all of the relevant factors – both natural and human – into account. For example, major volcanic eruptions produce a cooling effect because they blast ash and other particles into the atmosphere where they persist for a few years and reduce the amount of the sun’s energy that reaches the earth’s surface. Also, burning fossil fuels produces particles called sulphate aerosols which tend to cool the climate in the same way. Over the first part of the 20th century higher levels of solar activity combined with increases in human generated carbon dioxide to raise temperatures. Between 1940 and 1970 the carbon dioxide effect was probably offset by increasing amounts of sulphate aerosols in the atmosphere, and a slight downturn in solar activity, as well as enhanced volcanic activity.
During this period global temperatures dropped. However, in the latter part of the 20th century temperatures rose well above the levels of the 1940s. Strong measures taken to reduce sulphate pollution in some regions of the world meant that industrial aerosols began to provide less compensation for an increasing warming caused by carbon dioxide. The rising temperature during this period has been partly abated by occasional volcanic eruptions.
We at www.Peakfood.co.uk have tried hard in the last few years to raise awareness that the food industry has become totally dependent on fossil fuels. Some experts have now calculated that on average it takes 10 calories of fossil energy to deliver 1 calorie of food energy- clearly a situation that can only be temporary given the finite nature of fossil fuels.
We must therefore consider the implications for food supply in future years. US oil production has been in decline for many years leaving them importing 5 million barrels a day from the Middle East. Other big suppliers such as Mexico are themselves now in decline.
The North Sea is also outputing less making Europe increasingly dependent on imports. Around 60% of the world’s reserves are in the Middle East with Saudi Arabia by far the biggest supplier.
Given the relationship already described between food calorie output and fossil calorie input in modern agriculture, this will make us dependent on the Middle East for our food just as surely as if it was grown there. We will, in effect, be importing millions of tonnes of virtual food from this volatile region.
If western governments aren’t worried about this they should be. Maybe they are, and that would explain why billions of dollars and thousands of lives have been spent in an attempt to keep the region functioning and under western influence so that oil, our virtual food, can keep flowing. If there were no large oil reserves in the Middle East, it would be a fairly insignificant region and would not warrant heavy intervention from the US and it’s allies.
Islamic extremists are dedicated to denying what they see as “Muslim oil” to the hated infidels and in the past have planned attacks on oil installations. These have been unsuccessful, but we should expect that they will be planning other ways to cut oil supplies. The dream is to establish Islamist control of the region.
Unless we find sustainable ways to produce our food using renewable energy, we run the risk of severe and sudden food shortages caused by the failure of our fossil dependent system.
Following headlines in the national news about Sir Paul McCartney’s call for everyone to eat let meat, John Gossop, author of Peak Food, spoke on Andy Comfort’s Morning Show on Radio Humberside. John answered questions alongside Annette Pinner, Chief Executive of the Vegitarian Society.
Click below to listen to the interview. It is in two parts and not all is included due to download limitations.
Not many people would welcome a recession, but we must ask if it is possible to continue with economic growth forever, especially now that Asia with it’s billions of people, has joined the party. As we have said before, our prosperity and our food supply has been built on finite fossil fuels, the use of which is causing climatic change. If we continue on the present path of continuous growth, we will be hit by energy, water and land shortages causing food supplies to peak and then go in to rapid decline.
We do have an alternative, but without public understanding, it would be unpopular.
We need to put a proper price on fossil fuels, reflecting their finite nature and damaging effect, by moving the tax burden from income and sale taxes to a massive carbon tax to encourage innovation and invention at the speed needed to transform our society to using the abundant solar energy reaching us each day
New industries need to spring up to provide goods that use much less energy and other resources, and to collect much more solar energy through water, wind, photovoltaic panels and the plant leaf.
The present recession has caused a very small reduction in oil consumption. It will be tragic if we quickly go back to rapid growth in consumption of all recources until disaster hits.