CHAPTER III CLIMATE CHANGE
Loch Lomond, Scotland Loch Lomond & The Trossachs is Scotland’s first National Park. The Loch itself is Britain’s largest inland waterway, measuring 22 miles long and up to five miles wide. Although there is plenty to do on and around the loch, the west side in particular gets very busy during the summer, whereas the east bank is tranquil and a great place for hiking. The West Highland Way follows the loch’s east bank and from Rowardennan you can take in a relatively easy climb up Scotland’s most southerly Munro, Ben Lomond, where at 3,192 ft the views from the summit are spectacular.
Greenhouse Gases As the sunâ€™s radiation hits earth some of it is reflected back towards space The greenhouse gases trap some of this energy and keep our planet warm 15 degrees Celsius The average global temperature of earth Minus 18 degrees Celsius The average global temperature if we did not have greenhouse gases The main greenhouse gases that regulate our climate are: Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Methane Nitrous Oxide Tropospheric ozone
The Trossachs The Trossachs lie to the east of Loch Lomond and are a superb walking area. Ben Venue and Ben Aâ€™an are the most challenging peaks. The region is also a good place to cycle and the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park has Britain's largest network of off-road cycle tracks. The relatively safe, quiet roads off the main routes also offer more leisurely family cycling and the track circumnavigating Loch Katrine is particularly picturesque. The road between the villages of Aberfoyle and Callander takes you through Dukeâ€™s Pass, one of the most beautiful routes in the country.
Global Warming Earthâ€™s temperature is rising faster than at any time in the last 10000 years The 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1997 Spring is arriving 3 weeks earlier in the UK compared with 1975
Overwhelming evidence points to human activity contributing significantly to global warming
Ben More Botanic Gardens To the west of Loch Lomond lies the region of Argyll. Its mild climate, regulated by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, is in evidence at Ben More Botanic Gardens where there are 250 species of rhododendrons and a row of Giant Redwoods. In the southern aspects of Argyll the routes down Loch Riddon and to the village of Tighnabruaich are the most scenic in the region. In the northern parts of Argyll is the Argyll Forest Park, and the A83 that takes you from Loch Lomond to the historic village of Inverary through ‘Rest and be Thankful’, one of Scotland’s classic viewpoints. Further north along the A83 is Loch Awe with the ruins of Kilchurn Castle, and the beautiful Loch Etive.
The cause of global warming Clear evidence shows that the increase in greenhouse gases are responsible for global warming The concentration of greenhouses gases are higher now that at any time in the past half million years 30 the percentage rise in CO2 since the pre-industrial times of 1750 151 the percentage rise in methane since 1750
Lismore Lighthouse and the Nevis Range On the west coast of Scotland lies the town of Oban. From here ferries run to many of the Scottish Isles including Mull, which remains my favourite. The scenic journey to Mull takes under an hour and passes by Lismore Lighthouse. If travelling by car it is advisable to book ferries in advance. Mull is 25 miles in length, has outstanding and varied scenery, and some of the best wildlife in Europe. Over 200 species of bird have been counted including both the Golden Eagle and White-tailed Eagle, the latter has thrived since its re-introduction from Scandinavia.
Carbon dioxide 8 billion tonnes the amount of CO2 produced per year as a result of human activity 100,000 the number of party balloons equivalent to one tonne of CO2 Deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels for the production of domestic electricity and for use in transport are the two leading causes of CO2 production Cars 200,000,000 – the number of cars worldwide in 1970 600,000,000 – the number of cars in 2000 1,200,000,000 – the number of cars predicted by 2030 A large 4-wheel drive produces 3 times more CO2 than a 1.3 litre car Aviation Emissions from planes is the fastest growing source of CO2, levels will double in the next 25 years The meat and dairy industry accounts for 18% of the world’s climate changing gases. Factory farming needs massive amounts of soy for feed, which is grown in deforested areas of South America
Calgary Bay, Isle of Mull Calgary Bay on the north west of Mull is perhaps the finest beach on the island and lies within easy reach of the picturesque village of Dervaig. The main village on the island, Tobermory, is also found on the north of the island and is one of the prettiest ports in Scotland. The main focus of Tobermory is the brightly painted houses and shops that run along the harbour. From Tobermory a good road runs down the east coast through the pretty village of Salen and on to Duart Castle, which lies are at the south east corner of Mull. En route are some pleasant but easy walks including Aros Park and the Garmony Coastal Walk. A few miles north of the castle look out for the Mull Railway, a must for all children. This small train runs trips to Torosay Castle and Gardens, which are well worth a visit.
The impacts of global warming In the next 25 years the earthâ€™s temperature is expected to rise by up to 2 degrees C. A change is inevitable and reflects past human activity, the impacts of such temperature change include: Increasingly severe regional weather events Human suffering Species extinction The changes have already started. In the developed world we have largely chosen to ignore them, perhaps because they are predominantly affecting the developing world?
Carsaig Bay, Isle of Mull The south and west of Mull has a much more rugged coastline, which is typified by the view from Carriage Bay. An excellent coastal walk heads west from the bay to Carsaig Arches and Nunâ€™s Cave. The best beaches in this part of the island are Ardalanish Bay and Market Bay; the latter can only be reached on foot. Away from the coast Ben More dominates the view, which at 3,169 ft is the highest mountain on Mull. The trail up Ben More starts at a lay-by on the B8035 and views from the summit are spectacular. North of Ben more lays Loch Na Keal, which is a good place to look out for otter and sea eagle.
Severe regional weather events The number of major natural disasters have increased 3-fold since 1960 220000 the number of people killed by natural disasters in 2008 217000 the number of people killed on December 26th 2004 â€“ Asian Tsunami Hurricane Katrina August 29th 2005, devastates New Orleans El Nino is defined by a sustained increase in the sea surface temperature of the central tropical Pacific Ocean. When it occurs it affects climatic patterns around the world The difference in the number of people affected by natural disasters during a post-El Nino year compared to a pre-El Nino year is 2.7% of the worldâ€™s population. El Nino related events have become more frequent and more intense in the past 20 years
Staffa A number of islands are in easy reach of Mull including Iona, Staffa, and the Treshnish Isles. Trips to the islands can be taken from the Ulva Ferry or Fionnphort. The Treshnish Isles and Staffa and uninhabited, the latter is a geologist’s paradise with amazing rock formations and caverns, of which Fingal’s Cave is the most impressive. The island of Iona has a small population and lies only a stone’s throw from Mull. Iona is best known for its Abbey but it does have some beautiful beaches at its northern end. The climate in Mull and the surrounding Isles is influenced by Ben More, and as such Iona has significantly less rainfall than much of this region.
Drought 3,000,000,000,000 the number of people predicted to face water shortages
Africa, Latin America and Asia the regions expected to suffer most from climate change 70% of African people rely on rain-fed agriculture for their livelihood
Cholera and hepatitis A Increasing levels of water-borne disease
Human conflict? Humans are already using more than half of the planetâ€™s fresh water, by 2025 this could be more than 70% - some of the fastest growing human populations share major rivers: the Nile, Ganges, Jordan, Tigres-Euphrates
Puffin, Treshnish Isles Mull and the surrounding Isles is a region that is particularly rich in wildlife. The seabirds are at their best on Lunga in the Treshnish Isles, which is a breeding ground for puffins, razorbills kittiwakes and guillemots. Marine life includes Atlantic and grey seals, dolphins, mink whales, basking sharks and occasionally orca’s. ‘Sea Life Surveys’ based in Tobermory run trips to view the wildlife, the proceeds of which go to the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust. The best place to spot otters is the east coats of Mull, south of Salen. Otters particularly like areas where fresh water streams drain into the sea. North of Salen is well populated by seals, herons and oystercatchers. With regards eagles if you spot something soaring in ever widening circles, then you are looking at one.
Wildlife Coral bleaching is caused by rising sea temperatures and is predicted to destroy much of the worldâ€™s coral reefs and marine life that depend on them within the next 30-50 years Polar Bears depend on the arctic ice to hunt for seals - with each year the melting starts earlier and the re-freezing begins later, meaning the polar bearâ€™s hunting grounds are disappearing and so they do not have enough fat reserves to survive or rear their cubs. The Arctic summer sea ice could disappear by 2030 And at the opposite pole in Antarctica a loss of sea ice is causing a reduction in the number of Adeline penguins Adaptation to global warming The human species has a better chance to adapt, many other species will simply disappear
Eilean Donan Castle On the mainland the roads north from Oban take you towards the spectacular scenery of Glen Coe and on past Ben Nevis. If time allows, a trip on the West Highland Railway that runs from Glasgow to Mallaig provides one of the most beautiful railway journeys in the world. The section west of Fort William is perhaps the most breathtaking but the stretch leading into Fort William from the east is also impressive. Back on the roads and further north still, Eilean Donan Castle can be found on the approach to the Isle of Skye. Originally built in 1230 by Alexander III the castle was destroyed in 1719 by King George during its occupation by the Spanish Jacobite forces. The castle was rebuilt in the early 20th century.
No one will be a winner Global warming will have a detrimental effect even on the most affluent Travel will be less exciting are we further erode the natural world Skiing the alpine glaciers have lost more than half their volume since 1850, snow lines have receded up mountains by 150 metres in last 10 years Skiing may not be possible in lower level resorts in 15 years time - an estimated 75% of glaciers in the Swiss Alps will disappear by 2050 Insurance claims will rise significantly as a result of increasing adverse weather events Malaria-laden mosquito will become more common in the developed world as the ranges of disease vectorâ€™s increase 79 the percentage of economic loss from catastrophes that is blamed on climate change
The Cuillins, Isle of Skye The Isle of Skye has the most spectacular scenery of all the Scottish Islands, and in the Cuillin mountains the most spectacular hiking. Hiking in the Cuillins is not for the beginners, a choice of guiding operators and guided walks are available. The eastern part of the range is known as the Red Cuillins, which provide smoother conical peaks and is best accessed from the Sligachan Hotel. In contrast the Black Cuillins are jagged and provide the most challenging rock climbing. The Black Cuillins are reached from the road-end at Glenbrittle, where a path leads up from sea level to the base of the high slopes.
And thatâ€™s just the start - things could get a lot worse The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been established by the World Meteorological Organization & the United Nations Environment Programme to help understand the cause of climate change and its potential impacts. The IPCC believe that if the average global temperature increases by more than 2 degrees Celsius the results could be disastrous. Such a climatic change will serve to induce the positive feedbacks of nature, which will accelerate global warming and lead to a dramatic change in ecosystems with severe consequences for human well-being and extinction of species on a massive scale. We have much to fear unless we act now, some of the many concerns relate to the following:
Economic expansion in India and China Methane Forest fires in the Amazonian Basin Global dimming Melting of the glaciers Major regional changes in climate â€“ The conveyor belt theory
Ord, Isle of Sky The landscape of southern Skye is gentler and a good place to find a secluded holiday cottage, the best form of accommodation on the Scottish Isles. Ord is composed of a handful of cottages, offers spectacular views over to the Cuillins and has a bay frequented by seals. Syke has rich sealife with dolphins and whales, which can be seen from boat trips or sometimes spotted from the shoreline. It is also a good place to see Otter, especially at the Otter Haven near Kylerhea or around the village of Plockton, which lies on the mainland close to the Skye bridge. The island of Raasay, easily reached by ferry from Sconser is well worth a visit. This unspoilt place is a good place for sea kayaking, hiking and has a road, which running the length of the island and hugging the shoreline is a great place for a bike ride.
544 the number of new coal-fired power stations planned for China. Even with new carbon capture technology there are still massive concerns about the environmental impact of such large-scale developments
Methane 50% of the total increase in atmospheric methane has been due to human activity, mainly in the form of landfill and farming. Large quantities of additional methane are found under the permafrost and in the arctic ocean seabed - this frozen methane (methane hydrate) contains 170 times its own volume of methane gas. As global warming continues to melt the permafrost and arctic sea ice, ultimately large volumes of methane will be released in to the atmosphere. The sting in the tail is that weight for weight, methane releases 23 times more heat than CO2
Forest fires in the Amazonian Basin The Amazonian Basin has a massive impact on regulating our climate not only by absorbing CO2, but also by its direct cooling effect as plants convert heat into water vapour. Illegal logging is only one of the threats that faces the basin, the other is forest fire. The earliest signs of forest fires have recently been reported in the Amazonian basin - as the climate warms up the rainforest will become drier and forest fires could spell the start of the end for what is left
Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness Loch Ness is the most famous of all the Scottish Lochs. The best base from which to explore this region is one of the villages close to the mid-point of the loch, my own favourite being Tomich. The village of Drumnadrochit is best avoided unless you have a like for tacky exhibitions about a certain monster. From here you are very close to Urquhart Castle, the beautiful Glens of Affric and Strathfarrar, and 15 miles away lies Inverness, the main town in the area. Inverness is a pleasant town and is situated on the Moray Firth, which has its own resident population of Bottlenose Dolphins. Many outfitters run trips to see the dolphins, although some such as â€˜Ecoventuresâ€™ are more environmentally aware than others.
Global dimming In the summertime the sun moves north of the equator and subsequently raises the sea temperature at this latitude. The associated increase in the evaporation of water brings with it the summer rains of Ethiopia and the other countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. For many years in the late 20th Century these summer rains failed. The reason was pollution from North America and Europe produced by power stations, which drifted over SubSaharan Africa. This â€˜large-particleâ€™ pollution collected lots of small water particles in their clouds. Small particles are more reflective than larger particles found in normal cloud formation and hence let less sun penetrate them. The effect was a 10% reduction in sunlight, enough to prevent the necessary sea warming to produce the rain belt over Sub-Saharan Africa. Since the developed world has produced less large particle pollution the seas have warmed up and the rains have been more reliable. Another example of global dimming came after 9/11. For 48 hours after this disaster planes in the US were grounded, the skies became less polluted and the mean temperature across the country increased. The point is that the large particle pollution caused by man may be masking a faster rise in global temperature than we first thought so as we clean up our technologies the world may start to warm up more quickly
Glen Affrich, Invernesshire Glen Affric is one of the most scenically attractive areas in Scotland. A memorable blend of hill, loch, waterfalls and some of the best surviving examples of Scotland's ancient native Caledonian Forest. It is also rich in wildlife, which includes otter, pine martin, golden eagle, crossbill and red-throated diver. The Glen offers open water canoeing and has splendid, well marked hiking and mountain biking trails that are suitable for all ages. For the more energetic the Great Glen cycle route from Inverness to Fort William follows the forest trails, canal towpaths and quiet minor roads.
Melting of the glaciers The Arctic ice cap is melting - in the last 20 years an area 5 times the size of the UK has been lost and sea levels have risen by 10-25% over the last century 75 Million the number of people currently at risk from costal storm surge Arctic amplification ice reflects light so the more we lose, the more exposed water there is to absorb the light, which is converted to heat. This raises the overall temperature hence accelerating the melting process Potentially all the Arctic ice could be melted by 2070 resulting in catastrophic rises in sea level and flooding. It could even melt before this as the Arctic ice is shrinking fast, at least a decade before it was predicted to happen. NASA researches found that between 2004-2008 overall Arctic sea ice thinned 67.8 cm and that the total area covered by thick older ice that survives one or more summers shrank 42 percent 13 The number of the worldâ€™s mega cities at sea level - all these people and more will be at risk when the ice cap melts
Bostadh Bay, Isle of Lewis. Outer Hebrides The Outer Hebrides consist of a narrow 130-mile long chain of islands lying 40 miles off the northwest coast of Scotland. The largest of the chain are the Isles of Lewis & Harris, which happen to be part of the same land mass. Although the Isles can be reached by boat or plane, they really are remote. The interior of the islands are bleak and most of the communities that live here can be found around the coastline. On Sundays the Isles literally shut down, and if it rains there really is little to do. The secret of the Isles though is that they hide away some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. In summer the Machier (fields of wild flower) run onto brilliant white sandy beaches, which in turn are lapped by shallow turquoise waters of the Gulf stream.
The Conveyor Belt Theory Although some aspects of climate change are more predictable then others, global warming may eventually lead to disruption of world weather patterns with even greater consequences. One such possibility is the conveyor belt theory. The latitude of much of NW Europe is such that our climate should be similar to that of Alaska, warm salt dense waters of the Gulf Stream however makes our climate much milder. When this dense salty water reaches the North Atlantic it cools, sinks and then flows back south to its origin, the cycle continues. The concern is that excess water from melting ice caps and expanding rivers in Siberia are flowing southwards. As they run into the Gulf Stream they dilute the salt content, which is preventing this water from sinking back to the ocean floor and returning southwards. The cycle will shut down, the Gulf Stream will cease to exist and the climate of much NW Europe will be like that of Alaska. Studies show that the flow of water back to the gulf is lessening. The conveyor belt also impacts on global climate, with the conveyor on it controls the seasonal monsoons that fuel growing seasons in broad swaths of Africa and the Far East. With the conveyor off the monsoon areas will get drier.
Uig Bay â€“ Isle of Lewis The most spectacular beaches can be found along the Uig peninsula, which lies at the South West of Lewis. My favourites beaches include Bostadh Bay, Uig Sands (Traigh Chapadail), Mangersta and Mealista. Accommodation along the Uig peninsula comes in the form of camping, cottages and at the top of my list is the Baile-na-Cille guesthouse in Timsgarry, from where the above photograph was taken. The hosts at Baile-na-Cille provide delicious home cooked food and knowledge of the island that is second to none.
The Kyoto Agreement The treaty was negotiated in Kyoto, Japan in December 1997 and came into force on 16th February 2005 188 countries have now ratified the agreement
The agreement states that the industrialised countries will reduce their collective emissions of greenhouse gases by 5.2% compared with 1990, calculated as an average over the five-year period of 2008-12 Compared to the emission levels that would be expected by 2010 without the protocol this represents an actual 29% cut The Kyoto agreement represented a step in the right direction but climate experts predict that a reduction of 80% is needed by 2050 to keep the global temperature rise below the critical 2 degrees Celsius threshold and avoid the worst consequences of global warming
Calanais (Callanish) Standing Stones â€“ Isle of Lewis The main historical site of interest on Lewis is the Calanais Standing Stones, which stand in the form of a Celtic cross and date back to 3,000 BC. Away from Lewis it is well worth a visit to Harris, which is hillier and provides some good walking, a number of beautiful beaches such as Luskentyre Beach and a drive along the beautiful Golden Road on the east of the island. Close to the Isles of Lewis & Harris lies St Kilda, which can be reached by boat and has some of the largest seabird colonies in Europe. As you might expect if it rains in this part of the world there isnâ€™t a lot to do, and for your reference the driest month is May.
There are still many unknowns about climate change. However what we do know is that the adverse effects will almost certainly outweigh the benefits, and that human behaviour is very likely to be of the main causes. Although a change in the average global temperature of just a few degrees does not sound a lot, the results are likely to be catastrophic. To put such change into context, the average global temperature during the last ice age was only 4-5 degrees cooler than it is today. The most recent climate summit took place in Copenhagen in December 2009 â€“ no substantial progress was made and the events that took place underline the massive challenge we are faced with to stop climate change. Our so-called world â€˜leadersâ€™ were puppets for big business and those with an interest in the environment were kept at arms length. If we are to tackle climate change we need to look at population control and the normal people of this word need to front a green revolution. Of course, what if we are wrong and we go to considerable efforts to modify our behaviour to then find out we are not responsible for climate change? Regardless, we still have much to benefit by retaining the remaining rainforests and reducing our dependency on fossil fuels.