Climate change: a real and present danger
A documentary presented by David Attenborough (BBC 1,Sunday 21st Jan) will present the findings of the largest ever climate prediction project involving simulation programs run on over 54,000 computers. The resulting data was analysed at Oxford University to give the most detailed picture of our likely future climate.
The study predicts a harrowing 4 degree Celsius rise in average global temperature by 2080. While this may seem like a small variation in temperature over the course of a day, such a rise in the average global temperature could have devastating effects for many terrestrial and oceanic animal and plant species.
To conceptualise the effect of such a temperature rise for humans, imagine ordinary houses becoming unbearably hot in summertime, accompanied by long droughts and water shortages. In winter, increased rainfall would contribute to floods. Many coastal settlements could be threatened by increasingly violent storms, rising tides and higher sea levels caused by melting polar ice caps. Some climatologists predict that melting ice from the Arctic may eventually reverse the Gulf Stream, the ‘blanket' of warm water that prevents Northern Europe from freezing over in winter.
Climate change described in such drastic terms is hotly debated in the scientific world. However, global warming is now accepted as a real and present danger to many species of life on the planet, and as David Attenborough shall present, the prospect of inaction is bleak.