MOO Reports:
Are climate changes the result of human or natural factors?

The earth has got warmer in the last 150 years by just a few degrees centigrade. However, the biosphere is very delicate and any slight changes in temperature will melt the polar ice caps causing a rise in sea levels submerging parts of the world. Many attribute this to the 'Greenhouse Effect.' The 'Greenhouse Effect' theory states that the world is getting warmer because more and more fossil fuels being burnt producing Carbon Dioxide. The CO2 gas acts as an insulating layer around the globe trapping in any long wave radiation from the earth escaping into space. Although this theory is widely excepted in public (compulsory to learn in UK schools) because of the successful campaigning of Environmentalists and because if any slightly unusual weather occurs it is blamed on the 'Greenhouse Effect.' (Apart from the United Kingdom there has actually been less than normal freak weather worldwide!) Perhaps it is the cause of rising global temperatures over the last one hundred years. Most scientists believe that the 'Greenhouse Effect' has an effect on global temperatures but they still argue over its significance in relation to other factors such as variations in the sun's radiation. After all, climate change has been going on since Creation with ice ages, mass floods, changing climates (Antarctica was once a warm continent) etc.

Weather is caused by the sun. It heats up the land and air masses causing weather systems to be formed. Without the sun there would be no weather forecast (and no MOO!). Any change in the radiation (Heat) coming from the sun therefore changes, often dramatically or temporarily, the worlds climate/weather. The sun is indeed always changing - there are sun spots, solar flares and solar cycles which all effect the weather on earth. Long range meteorologists accurately predicted the recent storms on the south coast using measurements of the sun's activity. Therefore, only some (if any) of freak weather is caused by the 'Greenhouse Effect.'

The power of the sun on weather is not debated but scientists to argue over the sun's affect on the climate of the last 100 years is. The sun has regular cycles, the most well known being of 10.5 years in length. This is a pretty minor cycle changing the intensity of the sun by only one tenth of one percent. However, this small change is known to have caused drought and changed weather conditions on earth. Some Scientists believe that a longer cycle which has meant that the sun's intensity is four tenths of one percent stronger than at the beginning of the last century. This difference has caused  in theory winds (and so climates) to change.

Many debate if the sun cycle is strong enough to account for the increase in global temperatures last century.

Climate change may be due to the 'Greenhouse Effect' or may be due to solar cycles. What is clear is that climate change is a very complex issue of which we know very little. We do not even know for certain what caused the ice ages (and whether or now we are still at the end of one). What we do know is that the Sun, Volcanoes, the earth's axis/orbit (and perhaps the 'Greenhouse Effect.') Therefore much more research must be done to understand the world we live in and its changing weather. What we must not do is dismiss all other factors except the 'Greenhouse Effect' which we seem to be doing at the moment.



. 1999-2003 Justin Taylor / John Dray

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