Global Warming Explained in 60 Seconds or Less

derek me cop15 sml logo
Derek and Stephen Leahy at entrance to UN climate conference COP 15 in Copenhagen

One night in a bar a Russian journalist who I’d just met says:  “This global warming is too complicated for people to know if it’s real or not”.

“You don’t think climate change is happening?” I asked with surprise since we were both covering a big United Nations climate conference.

“No one has been able to give me a good explanation to prove it’s real,” said Yuri (not his real name).

“I can explain it to you in less than one minute,” I replied.

Yuri was sceptical but I went ahead and said:

“The moon has no atmosphere so it is scorching hot (+100C) during the day and bitterly cold (-150C) at night. The Earth has an atmosphere made up of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gases. Over 150 years ago scientists proved that CO2 traps heat from the sun. We also know without any doubt that burning fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal emits CO2.

Measurements, not computer models or theories, measurements show that there is now 42% more CO2 in the atmosphere than 150 years ago before massive use of fossil fuels. That extra CO2 is like putting another blanket on at night even though you are already nice and warm. The Earth is now 1.0 C hotter on average according to the latest measurements. Heat is a form of energy and with so much more energy in our atmosphere our weather system is becoming supercharged resulting in stronger storms, worse heat waves, major changes in when and where rain falls and more.

That’s it.

After a long silence Yuri says “I guess that makes sense…”.

I’m not sure he was convinced but the truth is that climate change is not that complicated.

One additional thing to know is that CO2 is forever. Every little CO2 molecule we add to the atmosphere will continue to trap the sun’s heat for hundreds and thousands of years.

One thought on “Global Warming Explained in 60 Seconds or Less

  1. we can only trap again the CO2 when through the aid of sunlight, it is utilized by plants through photosynthesis and convert it into CnHnOn or carbohydrates used forming the different parts of the plants, whose by-products are water and oxygen; that when the plants are decomposed, buried, heated and pressurized, they transformed into oil and natural gas but trapped under the earth. What therefore we can naturally do to lessen the progress of GW is to plant more trees, green more parches of barren lands and radically curtail consumption of petro fuels. At the base of these is for most people to be educated and convinced to reform their values and vision on the stewardship of the earth.

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