This page introduces Climate Change and provides links to other pages where more detailed informaton can be found.
Why climate is important and what is changing
The relative stability of average temperatures and climate over thousands of years has enabled man to survive. The natural greenhouse effect, for which water vapour is mainly responsible, has been important in keeping things stable.
Average global temperature over the last century, however, has increased more than it has in the previous 1000 years. The main reason for this change has been an increase in the man-made greenhouse gas - carbon dioxide. The level of this began to increase at around the time of the industrial revolution.
The predictions are that this will continue unless we do something about it.
Higher temperatures have led to led to thermal expansion of the sea and to the melting of ice. Sea levels have risen over the globe and more extreme weather systems, which happens with rising temperatures, have already been noted. Consequent flooding will have major effects on coastal towns and cities. There will be changes in food production and there will be impacts of health.
What can we do about it?
In the short term, some of the effects of climate change are now unstoppable and the only response to this is to adapt our environment to deal with the harmful effects (adaptation).
In the long term, we have to do someting to reduce the production of greenhouse gases (mitigation) if we want to reduce the harm for our grandchildren.
What are we doing about it?
The effects that Man is having on the climate was first recognised by the United Nations in 1992 and structures were set up to gather more information and recommend what to do.
Since then there have been many meetings, several agreements but little significant collective governmental action.
As a consequence greenhouse gases have continued to rise and, unless anything changes, global mean surface temperature will increase in 2100 from 3.7 to 4.8 degrees centigradee compared to pre-industrial levels. A consequence of that will be more extreme weather conditions.
There is increasing urgency to introduce measures for both mitigation and adaptation. Without these our grandchildren and those parts of the world least able to manage these changes will be the ones most affected.
See what Wessex Public Health Specialty Registrars are doing about climate change