September 2022. Times are A'Changing.

Times are A’changing.

With the lamentable death of Elizabeth II many will have thought the historical page had been turned, ushering in a new king well trained to take up the onerous responsibilities of monarchy. They may be right, but I could never understand why her Royal Highness chose such a sullied name for her son. Both previous Charles’s were, despite the objection of some Royalist historians, an extremely inept pair, completely out of touch with the times they were living in. Some, of course, may say that the modern King Charles is very much on the ball with his “Green Agenda”, while a growing scepticism has begun to permeate the opinion of his subjects. This is awkward. Sovereigns are gifted with enormous power when it comes to influencing their subjects. If it is wielded with a soft touch, as it was by Elizabeth II, then they take on an almost spiritual identity and virtue, while historically, can be seen to be much revered. Elizabeth came to the throne before her identity had fully blossomed into that much loved character. Charles, late into the role, despite one blemish, seems to have inherited much of her essential character and unshakeable belief in the people along with one serious flaw: he has now abandoned his ideas on environmental issues only allowing them to be carried forward by his son, William. That is, a belief that we can change the environment for the better by an extreme “Green Agenda”. It may seem an enviable pursuit, except for the unfortunate certainty that such an opinion ignores the fact that there are in reality two environments - ipso facto - one man made and one substantive, having a separate and independent existence over which man has absolutely no control. The earth has a life of its own, one that overshadows man and for all intents and purposes makes a mockery of his supposition that efforts to avoid its cataclysmic existence can somehow be facilitated by the pursuit of prudent and judicious action. Sadly, it is a myth. The mechanism that governs its presence is beyond any influence of ours, except to mitigate temporarily on a very small scale their capricious effect. We could exist in scolding deserts and the refrigerated wastes of the far north, but one would be more than hard pressed to discover in such regions the creation of a thriving and developed civilisation. As “Greenhouse gases” are the nightmare of environmentalists they seem to be unaware, or politically choose, to deny one facet of the phenomena. Simply put: without “Greenhouse gases” life on earth would cease to exist! For an explanation few could be better than that of Prof. Steven. E. Koonin:

“Heat from the sun reaches the earth during daylight and loses heat from the earth during the night. This would mean the earth’s temperature would remain at 0°C. This is avoided by a percentage of the radiated heat being captured by greenhouse gases. The Second Law of Thermodynamics guarantees that virtually all of it ends up in the climate system and is ultimately radiated into the cosmos.

The problem therefore is how much of the radiated heat remains captive in these greenhouse gases to human detriment, despite its ultimate displacement out into the universe?

We do not seem to have established what actual amount of greenhouse gas the earth requires to maintain a stable environment, which means we cannot estimate whether the present level is dangerous or not. On the other hand, it has been estimated that the earth naturally produces ten times as much CO2 as humans, which has the effect of extending the growing time of plants. Estimating how much human sources of CO2 would lead to an imbalance, and vice versa, how little would do the same, is not yet understood. All we do know is that the environment is doing just fine at the moment, despite the occasional petulant volcano or aggravated tsunami. It will not stay that way, but when the catastrophe happens, it will probably have very little to do with us!

Climate oscillations of such extreme character have revealed to archaeologists’ mankind’s remains lying in strata yielding alternate tropical, temperate and artic flora and fauna all in one place. We also have skeletal evidence of sabre-toothed tigers and hairy mammoths roaming the pleasant English countryside, suggesting extreme climate change is a natural phenomenon. It also reveals the terrible forces that can be naturally released on earth, moving huge arctic terrain to career out of control and wash away huge amounts of land mass to create new islands like the United Kingdom, leaving behind in its wake what is now called the submerged “Dogger Bank”, once the land bridge between England and the European mainland for prehistoric man and animals. These colossal forces were able to carve out from the land new seas, while the collision of the earth’s plates, formed completely new countries like Italy. And something of this magnitude might yet happen in the next few years? Earthquakes remind you it is so! One might therefore consider it immoderate that we worry about a few degrees of temperature for the moment!?

Yes. We should be aware of it, but we should not lose sight of the reality. Great civilizations have survived, prospered and disappeared amid terrible moments of change – some human, some natural – all leaving footprints of their passing. 3000 years before Christ the Egyptians created monuments that almost deny belief in their perfection and industry; similarly, the Hellenic and Romans left art, architecture, and literature whose influence can still be felt today. The soaring power of the Renaissance, believe it or not, is still part of the modern world with its inquisitive nature, our world, and it is not going to pass anytime soon. After all, man has survived in the middle east in temperatures touching 70°C., somewhat higher than the average 22°C. of Europe, even if it’s not to be recommended!

So, climate change is real, oscillating from hot to cold, and some small part of this change can be man-made, but the critical factor is the natural pace of temperature change, which is on a roller coaster and may not respond to man’s interference in any beneficial way as, in fact, it has little to do with him in the first place. The spuriously short time scale of 2050 is bartered about, not to make sure we change our ways but merely for the zealots who, trusting a catastrophe will come to pass, can say: “We told you so!”

In this age of a new King let us hope he turns out to be more sanguine and successful than his historical namesakes!