Thursday, October 15, 2009

A change in the air

When I found that this years Blog Action Day was to be on climate change I was a little daunted.
Where do you start?
My life has been, from the time I was a small child, meshed with a conscious realisation that a peel thin atmospheric covering regulates our life on this planet.
From the early days of asthma each time the westerlies blew pollen to me, the trips with my father fishing in a small boat out wide in deep water, to my eventual study in Environmental Science in Wollongong University, it has been an envelope I have been aware of.
For over three decades I have seen the seasons unfold, and have studied ancient patterns in fields as diverse as magnetic field change and carbon dioxide levels recorded in ice.
It is with this long standing interest that I find this subject so daunting.
Ancient records will have us believe that we have been living in an almost unprecedented calm and regular period of climate for over the last 5000 years and, despite the fluctuations such as the "little Iceage" experienced over 500 years ago in Europe, things have been fairly reliable for activities such as growing crops and developing civilization, for it has been over this time that we have developed our modern age. Things haven't always been so regular.
11,000 years ago carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere spiked. Whether they did due to the release of gases from thawing bogs at the end of the last iceage, or whether they caused the end of the last iceage is debatable. Either way, there were no factories and cars that we know of to have caused this at the time.
The sun is known to work cyclically, ranging from sunspot activity to expulsions of gas and the sun is the ultimate climate control device.
In view of the magnitude of the system we live with, is it wise to be so human centric in believing we have such great impact on this world and its climate?
The climate, in my view, is a series of waves. Conditions move back and forth, within the bounds to sustain life, like a sine wave oscillation. Our activities just change the amplitude and wavelength.
The danger is that our changes to that wave may push it too far for human life to be sustained in the way we live now.
If we vary the conditions too much we will not grow our food or get our water.
Civilization would collapse, though humanity will survive having been regulated by this vast interconnected system and made live within its rhythms.
When looking at climate change, don't worry too much about the planet- it can look after itself.
The goal is to see we live within a large system that can, and will, survive quite well without us.
Adaptability and interconnectedness , not control, should be the goals.
We are not the centre of the universe.
I am proud to be part of Blog Action Day again this year. Lets live with our planet, not try to dominate it.


  1. Hi David
    Glad you kept our collective "date" with Blog Action Day, as I missed it. I was committed to going to Sydney, and have just got back to business.
    Pleased to see you are committed to living with our planet.
    You hinted that the Planet can get on fine without us - if we stuff it up too much - to be able to survive the results of our actions.
    I would almost agree, except for the Nuclear option. If we let that genie out of the bottle, we can poison the entire planet - potentially.
    Then again, I have been to Hiroshima, on "Ground Zero", and life appears to be thriving.
    Not sure what that means.
    Glad you posted on this event, anyway.
    Regret I missed it.

  2. Hi Denis,
    Yes, I am happy to live with this planet. When I'm not, the planet has to go ;P
    Around 270 million years ago 90% of life was extinguished in a massive extinction and, around 100 million years later, saw the age of the dinosaurs begin. My point is we cannot extinguish life from this planet, just ourselves and the other 89% we will take with us.
    Every hole must be filled.
    The more holes we make, the more opportunities arise for new forms to fill them.


Add a comment to this post.