Club member, Paul Newman, had been a government advisor on sustainable development for many years. He began by quoting António Guterres, Secretary General of the UN, who has said “Climate change is the most important item in the world’s in-tray”.
Here are just a few points from Paul’s very detailed talk:
(a) The ice of Antarctica reflects heat back into space but in the Arctic regions, free water, trapped between continents, absorbs heat and so heating is greater there than elsewhere.
(b) Cold fresh water running off areas of permafrost, ice shelves etc., creates less salinity, which slows down the cold current travelling south down the Eastern seaboard of North America and has a slowing effect on the Gulf Stream.
c) Humans do have an effect on the planet: a composite photo of the earth from space showed an enormous belt of light across the densely populated parts of the planet; this and the majority of the energy we use is produced from the stored-up ‘ancient sunlight’ we extract when we burn fossil fuels.
(d) The problem with plastics is that they retain energy and are hard to break down- in fact they require a great deal more energy in order to achieve this!
(e) Is there climate change? What has caused current disruption?
Paul left us to draw our own conclusions but he suggested that we need to make a greater effort to work within the planet’s own cycle of natural energy.