Environmental Controls Specialists
Welcome to eco.AUDITOR. Please select the area you require.
What is Climate Change? Recent hot summers and extreme floods show that the UK is beginning to feel the effects of climate change. Climate change is caused by burning fossil fuels for energy, which releases greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere. The UK weather in the 1990ís was the hottest this century with 1998 being the hottest year since records began. Is climate change really happening? Climate change is emerging as one of the great challenges for modern society. Despite decades of research important things remain uncertain but much is now established beyond reasonable doubt. The basic mechanics of climate change are well understood; the world is warming, much of the warming is due to human emissions of greenhouse gases and the changes are set to accelerate in the future bringing many and varied impacts around the world. Over the past 140 years the earth's surface temperature (over land and sea) has increased on average by 0.6 +/- 0.2 Deg C with the greatest increases occurring the second half of the last century; the 1990s were the warmest years in recorded history. Although this rise in temperature may appear small it is scientifically significant and does have dramatic impacts on climate e.g. Northern Europe is predicted to become wetter and the Mediterranean drier. Since the 1950's scientists have observed the retreat of mountain glaciers, shrinking of the Artic ice cap as well as a lengthening of the freeze-free season. Warming increases evaporation and precipitation and both aggregate rainfall and occurrences of 'heavy precipitation events' at European latitudes - the principal cause of flooding - has also increased in recent decades. There is also evidence that the frequency and intensity of storms is increasing in certain areas. What is the cause? Global warming is caused by increases in levels of greenhouse gases attributable to human activities. Carbon Dioxide is a naturally occurring gas crucial to life, but also the main 'greenhouse gas' contributing to Global Warming. Its build up causes rising temperatures, and will have a profound effect on wildlife and people worldwide. Carbon dioxide is the main contributor responsible for 80% of emissions from industrialised countries. The gas is released into the atmosphere primarily from burning fossil fuels: oil, petrol and natural gas. A growing population coupled with increasing demands on transport and energy has led to emissions increasing at dramatic rates. Other greenhouse gases which arise from a range of industrial and agricultural sources are: Methane Nitrous oxide Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) Perfluorocarbons (PFCs) Sulphur Hexafluoride (SF6) Combined, these greenhouse gases absorb infrared radiation in the atmosphere and thus change the dynamic balance between energy arriving from the sun and energy escaping. What is predicted? Although it is difficult to obtain accurate predictions on the impacts of climate change, climate models foresee a global temperature rise in the range of 1.4 - 5.8o C by 2100 if current greenhouse gas emission trends remain unchecked. Even if some measures are taken, the effect will continue accumulating for centuries. The impacts of even a small increase in temperature are expected to be significant, particularly in certain regions. Effects are expected to include: Flooding in low-lying coastal areas Wetter, warmer winters and dryer, hotter summers in the Northern Hemisphere More extreme weather conditions worldwide (storms, drought, heavy rainfall) The impact will be far-reaching and will affect not only the humans but also the wildlife and their ecosystems on the planet; those that are able to adapt will survive, those that cannot won't.