• Question: What is you main view on global warming today?

    Asked by Isabella to Ashwanth, Jeni, Mark, Natalie, Stephen on 14 Jun 2016. This question was also asked by 547envf27.
    • Photo: Stephen Richardson

      Stephen Richardson answered on 14 Jun 2016:

      I think global warming is going to be the biggest deal of the 21st century.
      its going to be more and more part of our lives and I’m pretty sure that we won’t do enough to stop it completely so we will end up having to deal with the problems it causes – not just crazy weather and melting ice in the Arctic but also lots more people having not enough to eat and drink and lots more people migrating to get away from places where it’s really bad.
      Sorry if that sounds a bit doom and gloom! It’s just my opinion, maybe the others are feeling more hopeful??

    • Photo: Jeni Spragg

      Jeni Spragg answered on 15 Jun 2016:

      Hi Isabella,

      I’m afraid I’d have to agree with Stephen on this one. Climate change is one of the biggest problems our society is facing today. And it is definitely happening – 97% of experts on the subject agree – so we need to move on from debating whether on not it is happening and start to focus all our attentions on doing something about it.

      This is because it affects so many things- as well as all the problems Stephen mentioned, economists also reckon it is a big risk to our economy. And, worst of all, is the fact that it will probably be the world’s poorest who are affected the most. That doesn’t seem fair to me.

      On a more positive note, we are at an exciting time in history, where our generations will get to decide the future of the planet. Let’s hope we do the right thing!

    • Photo: Mark Gowan

      Mark Gowan answered on 15 Jun 2016:

      Climate change is happening, but it is not a man made event in the main
      The earth is still in the last Ice Age, but we are coming out of it. If you look at the Geology of the UK it can be seen that the Polar ice sheets, stretched down to Bristol. The earth has warmed up since these days and we had nothing to do with the ice melting all the way back up to its current position. The current Ice Age has lasted for about 30 million years so far and we have had periods of glaciation about every 100,000 years.

      We are not helping and are increasing the rate of the warming, but as engineers we need to look at ways of living with these different climates.

    • Photo: Natalie Wride

      Natalie Wride answered on 15 Jun 2016:

      Hi Isabella 🙂

      It’s so important because it’ll affect our whole future. I think a lot of us think of global warming and think of just ‘warming’ because we see things like the ice caps melting, but equally we might get more rain or colder weather – it all depends where you are.

      Carbon dioxide and other gases called ‘greenhouse gases’ cause global warming and climate change – it’s important to know that these gases are produced naturally by plants and animals as well as man-made processes such as burning fuels, which you probably learn about at school.

      Global warming and climate change affect the world in lots of different ways due to changing the weather we experience. This will continue happening with worse weather events. So in some areas it gets warmer and ice caps start to melt, leading to flooding, or there are long period of drought which mean some places are unable to grow and water their crops and unable to access water. Similarly, places can get colder which prevents them from growing certain crops. In other areas, you might get lots more rainfall or shorter periods of rainfall that are more intense. This can lead to flooding and can also trigger landslides and mudslides.

    • Photo: Ashwanth Vijay

      Ashwanth Vijay answered on 16 Jun 2016:

      Hi Isabella,

      Hope all is well. Global Warming is the increase of Earth’s average surface temperature due to effect of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels or from deforestation, which trap heat that would otherwise escape from Earth. This is a type of greenhouse effect.

      With the start of industry in the 1700’s, humans began emitting more fossil fuels from coal, oil, and gas to run our cars, trucks, and factories. By driving a “smarter” car, you will not only save on gas, but help prevent global warming.

      Most researchers agree that, short of some global economic meltdown, even decade-long averaged temperatures are destined to go above 1.5 degrees of warming by mid-century. So delivering the target by the end of the century will require drawing down temperatures by using technologies and energy systems that can extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere on a large scale.

      While there are chemical processes for removing CO2 out of the air, they remain very expensive. More likely are biological methods — using plants to soak up CO2 and then preventing that CO2 from getting back into the atmosphere when the plants die or are burned.

      The trick that puts a glint in the eye of some technologists and climate scientists is known by the acronym BECCS, which stands for “biomass energy, carbon capture, and storage.” The idea is to convert the world’s power stations to burning biomass, such as trees or marine algae. The industrialized production of this biomass on such a scale would accelerate the natural drawdown of CO2 by plants during photosynthesis. If the CO2 created by burning the biomass could then be captured from the stacks and buried in geological strata — the prototype technology known as carbon capture and storage — then the net effect would be a permanent extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere.

      It would be the reverse of the current fossil-fuel energy system. And the more energy generated, the more CO2 would be drawn out of the air.

      There are huge questions about such a strategy. Wouldn’t such a vast new industry have its own absurdly high-energy requirements, putting us back at square one?

      Some analysts argue there is little chance of hitting even two degrees, let alone anything tougher.

      Is there the land available to cultivate all that biomass? Would we end up chopping down forests to make room for growing the biomass, creating a massive new source of emissions? While there are back-of-the-envelope calculations, nobody has yet satisfactorily answered these questions.
      Other geo-engineering options that have been proposed include fertilizing the oceans so that more algae can grow, sucking up CO2 as they do, or a terrestrial equivalent – burying charred biomass known as biochar into soils, where it could provide a kind of deep fertilizer that would turn soils into carbon-suckers over many centuries. “Of all the ways of achieving negative emissions, BECCS seems to be the most promising.”