Skip to content

Climate change

October 25, 2009

A possible scenario

It is easy to think ‘Four degrees more, so what?’, but such a change will have dramatic effects. It may happen, if we fail to take measures to counteract a potential rise of global temperature of 2 degrees.

Screenshot of the map

Just click  here to open this Climate Map made by Met Office, UK (22/10/09). The map is an excellent effort to demonstrate what might happen, if the average global temperature will raise by 4 degrees Celsius.

How climate change relates to Marine Agriculture

Due to a non-equal distribution of changes in temperature, the associated loss of glacial water and the impact on coastal regions, small climate changes will have a sensitive impact on water availability and feed/food production, everywhere. The capacity to produce plant proteins, carbohydrates, fats and oils by Marine Agriculture, on the other hand, is hardly affected by climate change; in fact, it will be the only form of agriculture that can increase its output and at the same time, increase global sustainability.

Can we predict the global climate?

“The future is happening now, you only have to see it”, is one of the many eloquent phrases voiced by Peter Drucker. Put into context with the predicted climate changes by 2050, it means, that some of the effects are already happening now; more precisely, climate change does not proceed in a smooth, linear way. Rather, it progresses in a non-linear, unpredictable way when you look at it on short time scales, but it nevertheless is quite predictable when looked at it on longer time scales.

Some people , who I talk to about climate change, tend to say ‘we cannot even predict the weather for tomorrow, how can they predict climate change 40 years down the road?’

The reason is that tomorrow’s weather and the futures climate are two different entities. They differ in time and spatial scale. If you have a dog or a cat, you may not know how it will move in the next 10 minutes, but you can be sure that he/she will move in more slow movements 5 years from now.

Complicated non-linear systems tend to be chaotic on a short time scale, while they are regular and smooth  on a larger time scale.  This aspect of systems was one of the brightest modern contributions in science, without Nobel prize, by Benoit Mandelbrot.

Mandel zoom 04 seehorse tail.jpg

Mandel zoom 06 double hook.jpg

This is not to say, that predictions will come true… not at all, but, prediction of complicated processes can be accurate assessed,  if one understands such a prediction as being a future scenario that has a high likelihood of taking place, if the main forcing function(s) remains the same as the one which was assumed to calculate the prediction before the events happen.

Since many forcing functions are always changing (a little bit, or a lot, gradually, or sudden), or new ones may show up that we did not think of before (like 9 big volcanoes erupting at the same time) the above statement says that the outcome of the predictions will change…so, the cynic will say: what is the value of a prediction?

And the cynic is right: any single one prediction, or simulation on the future climate change, is likely to be wrong. The cynic may smile now…

However…. climate models are based on many, many, individual predictions, at any one single time when they are made, and on the basis of ongoing check and re-do of the same smulations, adjusting the forcing functions and the inner workings of the models as the modeller’s understanding of the processes improves over time.

Now the cynic may start looking sad: climate models are ongoing activities, and while nobody knows the future, the probability that our climate changes as predicted becomes higher as we go on. We cannot predict every little curvature in Manderbrot’s fractals, but we can get the contours with some level of confidence.

So then we reach the point where we can say, okay, nobody knows the future, but this or that is likely to happen. And each individual must ask him/her self: shall I take actions based on the fact that our entire scientific knowledge tells me something will happen, or shall I continue as if everything will stay as is, because nobody can look into the future…?

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: