How the greenhouse effect will influence Spain | Part 1

Autumn is the time for the "gota fría" in this part of Spain and normally we can observe torrential rain inundating cities the length of the Spanish geography and some are people claiming that is getting worse.

 

Since the last glaciations, the fascinating figure of 52 million cubic kilometres of water were redistributed by the planet, ice sheets melted and previously depleted global sea levels increased more than 130 m thus compensating the weight of the enormous masses of solid water distribution. The rebound effect today continues and accelerates alarmingly.

 

Not only the oceans are getting warmer, they are getting acidified due to the absorbed CO2, the corals are dying, the rest of sea animals must adapt in other contexts.

 

More than half of the world's population now live in cities.

Climate is exiling today more than 50 million people. The lacks of food and disease have forced them to move on. We only have to see todays news to see the south African people desperately trying to jump over the wire fences in the Spanish cities of Ceuta an Melilla.

 

Our cities have grown in an unstoppable manner together with an insatiable demand for energy. Since 2010, a radical change in evolution occurred: more than half of the world's population now live in cities, a new experience for life on the planet that we know joint without damaging or the environment that sustains us and ourselves. Scientists will have to advance effective proposals to bring human and nature itself not to destroy each other.

 

What really matters is what is happening to the climate.

Maybe to talk only about the temperature increase does not matter so much, but needed a parameter so that we all understand so that we could be sensitive to what is coming over us. What really matters is what is happening to the climate, and we are already seeing it: we are experiencing live extreme events that only a couple of years ago the scientific community still doubted if it could be a consequence of the so-called 'climate change', or not.

 

A new atlas submitted to the Governments.

Politicians can`t claim that weren`t warned. A new atlas has been submitted to the Governments which aim to disseminate information buried in technical documents of different scientific agencies and turn it into "something that can be directly used by decision-makers". This atlas charts a map where intersect the health and climate in this era of global warming, clearly showing examples such as the peaks of meningitis and sandstorms or outbreaks of dengue in the rains.

 

Extreme events are becoming more frequent.

Now what leaves me flabbergasted is the intensity and frequency of extreme events, which have increased. And that is very clear: disasters and concatenations of climatic responses that were happening every hundred years now are taking place every five or ten. Developed countries have been able to reduce the growing emission of CO2, but the methane increases (twenty times more potent than CO2 with the greenhouse effect) proportionally to the introduction of new techniques of extraction of hydrocarbons.

 

Recent research points to earthquakes as being influenced by climate change which also contribute to the warming of the planet through the release of methane gases from the oceans beneath. The authors, from the German University of Bremen, have proven among other examples that a big earthquake occurred in 1945 in the Arabian Sea, freed more than seven million cubic meters of that gas.

 

The Arctic permafrost that is fading away will be releasing soon a good amount of methane and will result in the direct expulsion into the atmosphere from about 50 giga-tonnes of this greenhouse gas. A recent study by Gail Witheman says that the already irreversible process will develop in the coming decades into more worldwide disasters.

 

This discovery, both the direct loss of methane trapped in permafrost, and especially the major earthquakes release, reveals a natural source of emission of greenhouse effect which so far had not being considered and that has to be added to that produced by humans. According to this German study, there are huge amounts of methane stored in icy structures called "hydrates" in the subsoil of the continental shelves surrounding the emerged continents. They have calculated that methane hydrates contain between 1,000 and 5,000 giga-tonnes of carbon, more than the total amount that is emitted each year by the burning of fossil.

 

Next week I will try to show how that warming of the climate will influence directly Spain.

 


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