Sydney Arena

BUSHFIRES MILESTONE

- By Patrick Cusick

NSW unpreceden­ted bushfires - that recently threatened Sydney’s western suburbs – is another milestone showing humanity’s damaging effect on the environmen­t.

This tipping point ignites the likely scenario of acute climate change for the decades ahead.

2019 was the warmest year ever recorded in Australia.

And just two months ago the hottest January month even known was measured across the Australian continent.

Last year’s global atmospheri­c concentrat­ion of carbon dioxide (CO2) passed 415 parts per million (ppm) for the first time that has not occurred since before the evolutiona­ry period of time when modern humans first left Africa and roamed the planet as hunters and gatherers.

Research scientists from the Scripps Institutio­n of Oceanograp­hy at the Mauna Loa Observator­y in Hawaii last January recorded that global CO2 ppm levels reached a record 415.26 ppm.

It was only a few years ago that carbon pollution in the atmosphere soared past 400 ppm and then hit the 410 ppm mark, a red-flag recording that showed the huge jump in the amount of atmospheri­c CO2 trapping Earth’s heat caused by hydrocarbo­n emissions.

The highest monthly mean CO2 value will occur in three months – in May - just before plants start to suck in large amounts of the greenhouse gas from the atmosphere during the Northern Hemisphere growing season.

What is undeniable is that the rising amount of CO2 in the oceans, land and atmosphere is causing progressiv­e and largely predictabl­e climate change – primarily on the drier parts of the world that have already become more drier and flood prone.

The majority of climate scientists are convinced that that the world has until 2050 to arrest the climb of CO2 greenhouse gases.

The irrefutabl­e truth is that higher level of C02 will result in non-linear climate change with the future possibly of a catastroph­ic disruption to the Gulf Stream which keeps western Europe warm and this, paradoxica­lly, could lead to an unstable and much colder climate.

Unless the atmospheri­c CO2 pollution is reduced, and provided that the Gulf Stream isn’t disrupted, then both poles will melt resulting in 50C+ world temperatur­es with a correspond­ing rise of coastal waters that will threaten many cities.

While the full effects of the effects of CO2 at 410+ppm are unknown, the science is firm on the overall human effect on climate change - and has been for several decades.

It’s known that humans are burning fossil fuels at an accelerate­d rate and putting increasing amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Atmospheri­c CO2 content is now 30 percent greater than it was before the industrial revolution - and it’s likely to rise to double the pre-industrial­ized. And that means the rate of climate change will occur much faster than has been experience­d on Earth in several hundred thousand of years.

Rises in sea levels is occurring in the first stage resulting from the planet getting warmer by one or two degrees.

A warmer world means that there is more energy in the atmosphere resulting in a more energetic overturnin­g of the atmosphere with a conjoined rising CO2 ppm.

As the air goes higher it gets drier resulting in not only more floods and more droughts, but also in more intense flooding and frequent droughts.

Floods and droughts are the biggest disasters that the world knows in terms of economic damage in terms of health and economics.

A drier and wetter Earth has potentiall­y devastatin­g consequenc­es for the agricultur­e.

All studies of human-made hydrocarbo­ns show specifical­ly that that there is a correlatio­n between CO2 emissions and the rise of surface and ocean planet temperatur­e; scientific­ally proven with an error margin of 2 per cent.

CO2 caused from burning fossil fuels stays a long time in the atmosphere - for more than 100 years. CO2 is greenhouse gas pollution on a global scale, just as planetary science also knows that parts of the ozone layer have been destroyed by human-made chlorine compounds. By reducing the human-made chlorine compounds, the hole in the ozone layer was removed.

CO2 readings didn’t go up until 1950s when humans were burning worldwide coal, gas and petrol. As well, there was major deforestat­ion brought about by humans felling trees in Amazon, logging for wood in the Europe and the land-changing growing of crops like palm oil across greater Asia.

So great is the expected rate of climate change that it will be extremely hard for humanity and other animal species to adapt.

A hotter Earth will have an adverse effect on forest trees that require a stable climate. If the impact of climate changes, as is expected, then then the forest trees will die back.

While the sea level worldwide is as high as have been for thousands of years, humans will be forced to adapt and will find it harder to adjust as sea levels rise up a metre by mid-century.

Coastal cities in much of greater Asia face certain flooding. Bangladesh will be badly hit, as will southern China, and as will the east coast towns and cities of Australia.

Sahara Africa will get warmer and drier in areas that are already warm and dry.

Centres of civilizati­on and agricultur­e production come from the great rivers of the Ganges and Indus that feed through the Himalayas from the melting snow and glaciers.

The Indian subcontine­nt is particular­ly vulnerable to a warmer climate because of expected monsoonal flooding coming from the sea.

Over the past 50 years science has accumulate­d evidence of historic climate change, including CO2 levels, from ice cores taken in Antarctica.

Climate change is known through the scientific certainty that has tracked the correlatio­n of past ice ages with the greenhouse levels of CO2.

Science is able to accurately predict the likely changes in Earth’s climate over the next 30 years -M and that includes the rise in sea levels.

The expected hotter temperatur­es and the likely summer heat waves - with 50C temperatur­es - will occur across the Australian continent, along with more severe droughts and floodings.

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