Seabirds on narrow strip of ocean sand
Our oceans are absorbing most of the greenhouse gases – with consequences. Photo: ©Tony Neilson

Why global warming could be a whole lot worse

The last time the planet saw levels of CO2 as high as they are now was more than 800,000 years ago. And we’re getting away with it, thanks to our oceans.

But when Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) and the CSIRO included these and other similarly dire warnings in their biennial State of the Climate report late last year, the nihilists crawled out from under their rocks.

One such – Liberal National Party (LNP) Queensland Senate hopeful Gerard Rennick – went so far as to accuse BOM of fudging data to suit its global warming agenda. He said the bureau was tampering with temperature data to “perpetuate global warming hysteria”.

Notoriety-seeking

In dismissing Rennick’s notoriety-seeking claim, a BOM spokesperson simply said Australia’s leading statisticians and mathematicians had “confirmed the rigour, reliability and robustness of our methods”.

Dr Helen Cleugh, director of the CSIRO’s climate science centre, says atmospheric CO2 is up 46 percent since before the industrial era began in the 1750s.”We know from our analysis that the cause of the increases in CO2 concentration is human activities, through burning of fossil fuels and through land use change.”

So, what’s happening to all the energy associated with those greenhouse gases? “Over ninety percent has been taken up by the oceans,” says Cleugh. “Our oceans and the land are performing an enormous ecosystem service at the moment … A very live research question right now is, will the oceans and land continue to take up CO2 into the future.”

Extreme events

The report says ocean temperatures have warmed by around 1C since 2010 (as has Australia’s temperature in that time), and we can look forward to more ‘compound extreme events’ like: severe cyclones, increased ocean acidity, less rainfall and longer fire seasons.

Public concern about political reluctance to seriously reduce greenhouse gas emissions is certain to play a major role in the outcome of Australia’s May Federal Election.

©Natural Images 2019

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

©2018 TONY NEILSON All Rights Reserved. All images are protected by Australian copyright law and cannot be downloaded or reproduced without my permission. Please contact me.

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