Climate Change — Cliff Lea – 30th November 2015.

Cliff’s first talk to us  in April 2013 was on the oil fields in Derbyshire, which was bril­liantly delivered and we looked for­ward to this one. We were not dis­s­ap­poin­ted.

Cliff was a Chemical Engineer work­ing in the Oil Industry which brought him into con­tact with sci­ent­ists in dif­fer­ent spheres of influ­ence, which inspired his interest in Climate Change (as opposed to ‘weather’), which is a very com­plex sub­ject.

Firstly he explained to us how the vari­ations in the earths orbit, rota­tion, and inclin­a­tion affected the vary­ing amount of heat and radi­ation reach­ing dif­fer­ent parts of our planet, over time. The amount given off by the sun also varies. Some of these vari­ations are cyc­lical and the time scales can be huge, caus­ing cli­mate change in the nat­ural course of events.
Secondly we learnt how the heat and radi­ation from the sun was reflec­ted or absorbed at dif­fer­ent stages through­out our atmo­sphere, until the remainder reaches the sur­face of the earth.

John Tyndall .
John Tyndall .

John Tyndall (1820 – 1893) ori­gin­ally con­duc­ted exper­i­ments on how dif­fer­ent gases trans­ferred heat and radi­ation, and his equip­ment is on dis­play at the Royal Institution.
Taken as an aver­age over the whole globe, the heat reach­ing the sur­face of the planet today is approx­im­ately 342watts/square metre.
To under­stand the cli­mate, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was formed in 1988, by the UN, to assess all the inform­a­tion avail­able from some of the best sci­ent­ists in the world. 195 coun­tries con­trib­ute at present.
Climate inform­a­tion from mil­lions of years ago, can be ascer­tained from cores taken in ice in the Antarctic and these show cyc­lical trends as well as events like vol­canic action spread­ing ash into the atmo­sphere, but these were times when man did not really figure on the planet.
Physical records of cli­mate from around 1600 A.D. have also been kept and show a stable cycle of changes until the begin­ning of the Industrial Revolution in the early 1800s when the global warm­ing effects (green­house gases) of mostly carbon diox­ide, meth­ane and nitrous oxide in the atmo­sphere have been noted to be dra­mat­ic­ally and sub­stan­tially increas­ing. 100ppm of carbon diox­ide increase in the atmo­sphere causes 1.5 watts increased heat/sq. m. on the Earths sur­face, and causes the oceans to rise 3mm which affects 10 metres of the shore.
The total world pop­u­la­tion has doubled to 7 bil­lion people in the last 50 years and is increas­ing rap­idly, caus­ing green­house gas emis­sions by new indus­trial coun­tries like China and India, to also increase wor­ry­ingly.
The oceans heat up and expand, and the con­veyor belt of ocean cur­rents become sus­cept­ible to change e.g. the Gulf Stream and El Nino, affect­ing weather. This also changes the pH value of the sea water, which in turn des­troys sus­cept­ible marine envir­on­ments.
We were shown irre­fut­able evid­ence that man is caus­ing the cli­mate to change.
A fas­cin­at­ing talk, very pro­fes­sion­ally delivered, which gen­er­ated many ques­tions. Cliff could only sug­gest that we all tried to save energy in our daily lives to combat the prob­lem, and hope that the world could be per­suaded to give up the carbon pro­du­cing fossil fuels coal, oil, and gas, in that order, and be replaced by envir­on­ment­ally friendly sources of energy.

(Cliffs fee today went to the Arkwright Mill pro­ject at Cromford.)