Friday, July 29, 2011

Climate Adaptation

Shivantha Withanage

Climate change, the realistic gift from nature as a consequence of the man’s contribution to imbalance the global warming process of earth, started hinting about the disasters it can cause since several decades. Since then many activists forecasted the future of this crisis and present many ideas to stop or more practically to control this chaos. But as we experience now, human kind has been unable to return the favor to the Mother Nature. As a result climate change crisis is augmenting each and every moment, and we are reaching the disorder from a relative order.

It has been proven in front of our eyes that we are clueless in this crisis. We had the chance to return the order in to the global warming process, but we were too busy achieving the so called industrial and economical development. For a while man has been overridden by the things which man has created, and that while was enough to alter a natural phenomenon, which is essential to keep our planet warm, in to a disaster generator. So far we have experienced number of disasters due to climate change such as heavy rain falls, too cold winters, too warm summers, droughts, storms and the list goes on. Not only natural disasters but also infections which can easily spread with the new conditions can cause a large damage. But we should understand these are just minor scenarios comparing to the major disasters which we yet have not imagined.

Currently United States of America is responsible for nearly 25% of world’s carbon dioxide emission, making them the largest polluter of the earth and a major contributor to the climate change. Therefore they wanted to prove themselves as the biggest cleaner of the planet. In order to do that they initiated an agreement among the mayors of cities which they called as the U.S Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. With that they aim to decrease the carbon dioxide emission in their own cities and cut greenhouse gas emission to levels below what they were in 1990 by 2012. Similar local and national programs have been launched around the world to restore the natural process of global warming of this planet. However the success of those programs is seriously doubtable.

Climate change activists came up with ideas like [1]using CFL bulbs instead filament light bulbs to minimize the energy expenditure thus decrease the carbon dioxide emission, using canvas bags over plastic or paper bags, recycling papers and minimizing usage of papers in order to decrease the deforestation done to make papers, reforestation, promoting electronic messaging systems and billing systems, using hybrid vehicles, moving to alternative energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro, geothermal or nuclear which do not emit carbon dioxide in their electricity generating process, promoting bio-fuels which have higher efficiency than normal fuels in order to control global warming. Even though entire world precisely make active these ideas, not even half of carbon dioxide that we emit now will be stamp out. If we need to bring back order to the global warming process before it become worse, what we need is a zero carbon footprint over the planet for a certain time. As it took time to develop this chaos, it will take time to return to normal. The question is, whether world is ready to accept the reality and sacrifice some of their daily things in order to protect the future?

Eventually we are running out of choices while we are reaching a chaos. Since we are unable to correct our own fault, only choice left for us is the adaptation. There were many changes in the earth since life origin. Life survived and came a long way to the present through various adaptations to those changes. Adaptation is a key feature of any living kind in order to ensure their survival in various changes in the environment. Therefore in order to face these climate disasters and ensure the survival of human kind we need climate adaptation. Climate adaptation is the last option on the list. Even though climate change activists added it to the list they hardly thought they would be using it.

Climate change is the result of the altered earth’s atmosphere by increased atmospheric temperature due to impaired global warming process. Due to climate change, unpredictable and disastrous climate conditions are possible all around the world at any moment in any place. Climate adaptation involves the development and utilization of viable methods and techniques to face the climate change disasters with the minimum damage and enforce the rehabilitation.

Climate adaptation has several aspects. In order to reach the ultimate goal, we need to fulfill all those aspects to the utmost level we are capable. There are three main dimensions in climate adaptation; development of methods to minimize damages from climate disasters, utilization of them and after disaster management for a strong rehabilitation. In this task not only physical damage should be taken in to account but also the psycho-social damage. Following are some prioritized ideas in order achieve goals in climate adaptation.

  • Planning cities to withstand natural disasters.

  • Building flexible and defendable structure which will get less damaged.

  • Identifying areas with less damage and relocating.

  • Developing forewarning systems for various climate disasters.

  • Strengthening the communication about climate disasters among society.

  • Educating people about natural disasters and management to minimize damage.

  • Building a strong partnership among countries/regions to help each other in such disaster situations.

  • Selecting areas and increasing cultivations in those areas in order to use as food storages.

  • Capacity building among people.

  • Enhancing the power of sectors such as medical, rescuing teams and rebuilders which are vital in climate disasters.

  • Initiating programs to maintain supplies like water, food, medicine and shelter which are vital in such situations.

  • Developing versatile facilities to use in disastrous conditions.

  • Utilizing technological approaches to minimize the damages.

  • Keep on researching and developing novel eco-friendly technologies.

  • Counseling and initiating rehabilitation programs for victims.

Ultimate and only goal of climate adaptation is the survival of the civilization. This is something we all should achieve in our personal aspects as well as in our social aspects. Coordination between local areas or regions is not sufficient in this case. Entire world should act as a unit to overcome this challenge. Humans should not try to take economical advantages through climate adaptation. The core of climate adaptation is respect of one life towards another. This is a situation where humans should stand for one another and show their gratitude towards the society which raised them.

[1] The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming (Laurie David & Cambria Gordon)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hint for a Disaster

Shivantha Withanage

Recent heavy rain falls in Sri Lanka has badly affected daily life of many people. Usually Sri Lanka gets monsoon rains in late May and in September. Before the monsoon periods, occurrence of premonsoon rains is normal. But through last four decades this weather pattern has changed. Research results show an accountable disorder in raining periods and amount of rainfall.
This fact prove that climate change is happening all around the world. Climate change is the main impact of Global Warming. Global climate depends on the temperature in the earth’s atmosphere. Any change in atmospheric temperature can cause changes in the climate. Even a slightest difference in the atmospheric temperature can give rise to major natural disasters such as, storms, heavy rain falls and high sea waves. These primary disasters cause secondary natural disasters such as, landslides and floods.

Recently we have experienced disastrous storms and floods in North American region. Now we are experiencing the same thing in Sri Lanka. How can we explain these changes in climate? Normally Global Climate gets change. But it takes thousands of years. The matter is, it did not take thousands of years for these changes. All these climate changes happened just through several decades. So Global Warming is the only probable explanation for these climate changes. This is a forecast for the people who thoroughly believe, that Global Warming is just an idea.

Central Park, Colombo

We can only see a little part of the scene. The main impact is yet to come. May be it will take several decades to reach to the climax. Somehow it will happen, if we do not stop enhancing the global warming by increasing the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.

Chronicles of Global Warming

Shivantha Withanage

Today the main topic of every field in world is Global Warming. Most of the medias are trying to give awareness about global warming, what kind of affects could be happen by that and what can we do to stop them.

Global warming is something that planet earth needs for the natural existence. Without global warming earth could be a very cold place. Everywhere in earth will be like Antarctica. So we cannot stop this scientific incident. We can only control it in the correct range that is safe for every living being on the planet.

The scientific reason for global warming is explained according to a universal phenomenon called the green house effect. Most people know about this scientific explanation but don’t know about the invention or the inventor.

Charles David Keeling is the scientist who explains about the environmental scientific basis of the global warming at the first place. In 1958 he set up an instrument called Manometer a devise which can measure the gnarliest green house gas of all; carbon dioxide (CO2). Then for a year he took daily measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, where he set up his manometer. After that he made a graph using his readings. He found the CO2 level in summer has decreased and in winter it has increased. It was because; in the summer plants are grown and full of leaves. Through a reaction series called photo reaction and dark reaction CO2 is turned in to carbohydrates, amino acids and lipids inside the chloroplast in the leaves. This process is well known as the Photosynthesis. So if there are many leaves they can absorb extra CO2 and then the CO2 level has decreased. That’s the reason for calling plants as CO2 sinks. In the winter leaves have fallen and the photosynthesis is not going so well. So the CO2 level has increased because less amount of CO2 has been consumed. He called this as the Annual Cycle of atmospheric carbon dioxide

Keeling was fascinated from this discovery and continued his researches for another three decades and took daily measurements. After he graphed all his readings he was bemused from what he has found. He noticed that the high CO2 concentration in winter is increasing annually and the low CO2 concentration in the summer is also increasing annually. After analyzing all his data, he found that the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is increasing and let the world know this. The graph that Keeling made from his readings is now famous as the “Keeling Curve”.
In 2004 British Antarctic Survey team known as the BAS did a research based on Antarctic ice cap. They drilled the ice cap about 3 kilometers and took samples of the ice core. The oldest layers among those samples were about 650,000 years old. Then they analyze the air bubbles which had been trapped inside the frozen ice. After these analyses they found that CO2 concentration has increased from 27% in past 650,000 years. They also found the slow increase of CO2 concentration through past 650,000 years, when it took us modern day humans just 17 years to cause the same kind of increase. Again the connection between CO2 and global warming has proved.

The latest calculations shows that CO2 is the main green house gas (GHG) and its involvement for global warming is about 85%. The main source of this CO2 is burning fossil fuels. Daily 100 million tons of CO2 is released to atmosphere by human activities. So how could a world like this make statement about carbon neutralization? Through the way to conventions authorities should be more practical. Otherwise world would have no good but more Carbon Disasters.


Friday, April 30, 2010

Global Thermo Controling Process

Shivantha Withanage

In the history of human race different things had become important to humans in different periods. Among these important things, there were things that helped to improve human civilizations and also things that leaded humans to the path of disasters.

Carbon, the fundamental element of life plays a key role in the history of universe. Life on earth is a carbon based system. I shall lead you to have a look on carbon in a scientific way. Carbon belongs to the group IVA in the periodic table and located in the sixth place of Mendelief categorization. Its relative atomic mass (r.a.m) is 12.0107. It means exactly 12.0107g of pure carbon contain 6x1023 carbon atoms or 1mol of carbon. Relative atomic mass is calculated relative to the mass of one twelfth of the mass of 126C isomer.

Every atom is consists of subatomic particles known as electrons, neutrons and protons. Protons are positively charged and electrons have negative charges which is similar to the charge of a proton, while neutrons remain uncharged. Each electron has a charge of -1.6x10-19 C (Coulomb) and each proton has a charge of +1.6x10-19C. Neutrons and protons are gathered to the center of the atom known as nucleus and electrons take there individual paths, belong to various fixed energy levels around the nucleus. These electrons maintain close vicinity in order to make a negative charged discontinuous cluster around the nucleus.

Carbon it self has 6 electrons, 6 protons and 6 neutrons. In here I only count 126C isomer as carbon, because 146C isomer is radioactive and automatically turn in to 126C isomer in natural status. Every atom likes to maintain a lower energy position, because it is the most stable position. So atoms usually emit energy in order to stable themselves. In this stable position carbon atom has no charge, because the level of positive charge is equal to the level of negative charge.

Atomic Structure of Carbon

So all the positive charges are completely cancelled by the negative charges. I may not pursue describing advance atomic structure and characteristics of carbon, because it might be hard for a typical reader to comprehend. Carbon plays two main roles in the warming process of the planet earth. It strengthens the warming process as well as the cooling process. Two different molecules formed with the participation of carbon, contribute to these two processes.

Molecule is the stable configuration of atomic nuclei and electrons bound together by electromagnetic forces and electrostatics. This is the simplest structural unit that displays the characteristic physical and chemical properties of a compound. There are two types of molecules, known as Element Molecules and Compound Molecules. Element molecules are the molecules that consists of one kind of atoms (eg-H2, He) and compound molecules are made with two or more different combined atoms (eg-CO2, N2O).

Carbon particles which are made of single or many carbon atoms contribute to the cooling process. Usually when organic compounds such as fossil fuels are partially combustion, carbon particles are release to the atmosphere. These particles voyaged to the upper atmosphere due to their light weight. There is another fact which helps for the up rise of carbon particles. The movements of the subatomic particles of carbon and the movements of the atoms inside the carbon particles generate an electromagnetic field. Since this electromagnetic field is sufficient enough to apply a force at the gravitational center of the particle, which heads to the opposite direction of the gravitational pull the particle independently move to the highest altitude it can reach. The maximum height which a carbon particle could reach is decided according to two reasonable facts. Those facts are the weight of the particle and the magnitude of electromagnetic force applied to the gravitational center of the particle.

When these particles reach the upper atmosphere they bind together with electrostatics and make a cluster around the globe. This discontinuous cluster act as a barrier for the Infrared (I.R) waves released from the sun commonly known as heat waves. So it reflects most of I.R waves back to space and decrease the heat that enters to the lower atmosphere. Then the temperature becomes low, cause of less heat. It means carbon particles in the upper atmosphere have the ability to make a cooling effect. Naturally we can sense this in a significantly low degree, because only some carbon particles able to reach the upper atmosphere. Most of them react with other elements in the atmosphere, like oxygen and some times these carbon particles collide with water and descend back to the earth’s surface.

Carbon dioxide is a compound molecule which is made with a carbon atom and two oxygen atoms. The carbon atom rests at the center and oxygen atoms are located in the two opposite sides of the carbon atom. According to the atomic structures of carbon and oxygen, CO2 has a linear shape. It’s the most stable stage for CO2 in the nature, because the atomic distractions inside the CO2 molecule become neutral, when atoms are located in a straight line.

Molecular Structure of Carbon Dioxide

According to the molecular structure of CO2, it has zero total electron drag. Because the out pull of electrons by oxygen atoms are equal and to opposite directions. So the electron drag to different sides become neutralize by each other. Since CO2 molecule doesn’t has an electron drag it remain nonpolarized. This nonpolarize status of CO2 allows it to oscillate even in a very low energy transmission. But there is a net change in the dipole moment of this molecule when it vibrates. These molecular vibrations occur at energies that are of the same magnitude as the energy of the photons on infrared waves. Infrared waves have frequencies which are even smaller than the frequencies of the visible light.

When these I.R waves hit the CO2 which has concentrated in the upper atmosphere, CO2 molecule absorb the energy from I.R waves. When the vibrating frequency of CO2 molecule become equal to the magnitude of the I.R wave, CO2 molecule absorb the maximum energy it can gain. Then the CO2 molecule starts to release the electromagnetic energy that it has absorbed. This electromagnetic energy releases to the atmosphere as heat energy. In every time this process occur it release some heat to the atmosphere and after some time this heat approach a certain level. So the atmospheric temperature increase and it causes the warming process of earth’s atmosphere. When the CO2 concentration increases to a high level, this warming process becomes uncontrollable and CO2 molecules start to emit heat energy in a very high rate. So the atmospheric temperature continuously increases and this kind of warming effect can change and damage every eco-system on earth. This is the same thing we experience as Global Warming. These scientific facts prove that carbon contribute to both cooling and warming effects.
At the conclusion I would like to make a statement. Humans can not control environment, because man kind is just a one creation of the environment. What will happen to us, if we fail to obey the rules of nature? Only Mother Nature knows the answer.