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Corona Virus

The Corona Virus has affected many communities and the subsequent lockdowns has resulted in many more people working from home rather than commuting to work and travelling/visiting other countries. Consequently much less transport has been used resulting in decreases in both local and global air pollution. So one positive outcome of the pandemic has been to show that it is possible to reduce travel and its associated pollution through use of virtual meetings using skype or zoom.

For many students, on line learning has become the norm at least some of the time and we hope that these resources will encourage you to undertake some actions to limit climate change.

Record ocean heat levels

Reliable instrumental measurements only go back 80 years, but scientists believe that the oceans are now at their hottest for 1000 years and heating faster than at any time in the past 2000 years. This warming can affect the rate at which nutrients can be transferred by oceanic currents from the floor to the upper layers of the ocean.

Hotter oceans can also disrupt rainfall patterns which can lead in some areas to flooding and in other areas to droughts while warmer water is less able to dissolve carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas responsible for global warming.
[Guardian newspaper 14 January]

Planet now hotter than at any time in the past 12,000 years

New research based on the chemical composition of sea shells suggests that the average global temperature has been rising over the past 12,000 years.

Ice melting at record rates

The melting of ice across the planet is accelerating at a record rate with the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets being the most affected. About two thirds of the ice loss is being caused by atmospheric warming and one third by warming of the oceans. Over a 23 year period, the ice loss rate has increased by almost 60%.

The most recent modelling by Danish scientists suggest that sea level rises could be as high on average as 1.35 metres by 2100 which has serious consequences for many coastal cities.
[Guardian newspaper 3 February]

Increasing use of renewable energy sources

The good news arising from 2020 has been the continuing increase in the use of solar and wind power and the decline of the use of coal in generating electricity. This shift needs to continue if the world is going to limit the average global temperature rise to 1.5 C (2015 Paris agreement).

Decarbonising the electricity grid by switching to renewable energy sources has other significant advantages as wind and solar are everywhere so local generation of electricity at point of use is not only possible but also it is more efficient and less costly as the associated transmission and distribution losses are minimal.

The other major demand for energy is for heating in the winter months particular in the northern parts of Europe, North America and Asia. In these countries there is an increasing uptake of heat pumps which concentrate the low grade heat contained within the ground or air. Energy is only required to concentrate the heat to produce space and water heating but not to produce it . As heat pumps use electricity as the energy source and electricity itself can be produced locally there is the possibility of zero emissions from such homes.

The UK’s Committee for Climate Change has recommended that heat pumps should be installed in 80% of UK homes by 2050 at an annual rate of 600,000 by 2028 to replace gas as the heating source.



 

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