Looking up at the grey British sky, seeing translucent rain drops falling in a synchronised way, just to be stopped and speckled by the cold hard ground they hit. Before you know it roads, buildings and farms all under water with cars, trees and large clutter swaying past by the dense flooding caused by these little rain drops. West Yorkshire is drenched in shadowy brown water, its beyond imaginable, but severe floods have never hit before, so why now?
The 2015 United Nations climate change conference held in Paris saw 195 countries agreeing to reduce emissions in the hopes to reduce greenhouse gasses altogether. This is in hopes to reduce their carbon output as much as possible, the aim is to bring down global warming by 4 to 5C by 2100 and to reduce emissions per capita by 9% by 2030. This is an “ambitious and balanced” plan said France’s Foreign Minister Fabius during the conference. Although a promising outlook on how to reduce global warming, these promises are not seen as firm commitments or even a reasonable aim to achieve, some may argue.
Over the past few years, global warming has been on the radar of every scientist, politician and activist. It has also been disagreed among many of them leaving them divided whether global warming is an actual occurrence or even if it leads to freaky weather that caused the 2015 flooding. Leslie Woodcock who is currently a professor of chemical thermodynamics at the University of Manchester, and previously a NASA scientist says “there is no scientifically reproducible evidence whatsoever to support the global warming hypothesis.” He continues by explaining “the temperature around the earth’s surface has been fluctuating on all time scales for 500 million years. We can say with some certainty that there is no scientific evidence at all for the existence of god, but a majority of people believe in god, global warming is rather like a religion, millions of people are been duped by political gurus.”
With him owning his own farm in Yorkshire, picturing him stepping outside on a clear morning looking over his cows while they eat the green grass scattered on the ground. Just to think how cattle cause more damage to the environment then humans do due to methane release. Even though on NASA’s website which shows carbon dioxide is up by 402.23 parts per million and global temperature is up by 1.4C since 1880, he scoffs at this idea saying “these people are not proper scientists. They are political operators who seek to advance their careers by telling politicians with power and influence what they want to hear to justify their existence,” he continues by adding “there is widespread misconduct by these pseudoscientists.”
Estimations are always made on the negative impacts global warming will cause weather wise. The negative future impacts can include more or worse flooding as sea levels are seven meters higher, more forest fires due to increase temperatures, as well as increase of heat related deaths on hot summer days. Global warming is also linked to poorer winter health as bugs survive warmer winters better. But these are just estimations, we cannot be sure that raising of overall temperature of the atmosphere attributed by greenhouse effects by high levels of carbon dioxide and other pollutants can cause flooding or even poor health.
So if there isn’t a thing as global warming then what can be used to explain raising temperatures? “Le Chatelier’s principle vitiates the argument for global warming caused by carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. The principle states that if a chemical system is at equilibrium, and you perturb the thermodynamic conditions, like temperature of a component, the system will change to alleviate the effects of the change.” Leslie Woodcock explains and continues with “if the temperature of the atmosphere increases, all the vegetation in the biosphere will grow faster and everything will grow more to restore the balance. Le Chatelier’s principle keeps the earth’s atmosphere in equilibrium even if the carbon dioxide level increases.”
The notion of not believing in global warming can be seen as impossible with the topic being talked about more than ever before, when asked a member of the public where they stand on the debate of global warming, Kate Johnson said “I do believe that the temperature of the earth is raising and we should use other forms of energy, but I don’t think that global warming is causing extreme weather like the flooding we just saw.”
Likewise, for some global warming is a serious topic which cannot be ignored. With new facts and figures coming out more than ever before, it shows the issue being unavoidable. A panel of 1300 independent scientific experts from all over the world came together to determine there is more than a 90% chance that human activity over 250 years have warmed our planet, with the business sector contributing to 16% of the UK gas emissions. They concluding with human produced greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide has increased earth’s temperature over the past 50 years.
Matt Carmichael who has been campaigning and speaking on global warming in Leeds since 2005 and has also read many denialist books on global warming says “for me, denial is a normal part of human nature. For some people the issues raised by the climate crisis directly challenge strongly held beliefs about the world, so its easier to deny the issue than face it.” He continues by saying “now a whole industry has grown up to supply the demand for this denial. The likes of Esso for example, who knew it was happening, poured billions into funding the denial campaign are now very evidently losing the battle in the face of overwhelming science, public pressure and investor nous.”
Carmichael was the chair of stop climate chaos in Leeds from 2006 to 2009 and ran a monthly climate café which including speakers with Q&As. He spoke with his hands and very rapidly saying “we also helped form a group which successfully got a commitment from Leeds city council to cut the cities carbon emissions by 40% by 2020.” The excitement in his voice continued to show his fulfilment on the topic as he highlights the current negative impacts, “there are so many news stories that are affecting people’s daily lives that have a link to climate change. For example fracking in and around Leeds, we can’t frack for shale gas and also meet our carbon reduction commitments. Also the VW emissions scandal, there wouldn’t be a scandal if emissions weren’t being monitored. Finally the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that exists free trade are already being used by governments to sue each other to stop subsidies to start up sustainable energy companies, TTIP are likely to make things worse.”
Most people aren’t even aware these news stories have a direct link to global warming. But he acknowledged there are many people that don’t believe in the notion of global warming saying “it doesn’t worry me too much, I have good friends who deny its happening, but they are good people. I would recommend a book called don’t even think about it by George Marshall, it looks at how to communicate about climate change in ways that are meaningful too hard to reach groups.”
So perhaps the release of pollutants can lead to increase of temperatures, or then again perhaps not. Realistically we will never be able to monitor the increase of emissions that are let off into the atmosphere which many believe lead to global warming. But can this really be explained for the musky grey rain causing swamps of flooding that take control of entire cities, or even the tennis ball size hail storms that destroy everything they hit in a swift moment. Does global warming cause freaky weather or are we just brainwashed to think it does like Professor Leslie Woodcock suggests? Where do you stand in this argument?