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Climate Change in the Arctic & around the globe

Volcanos, the “No-fly”- ban and the climate

None of the experts were keen to give an interview at this stage about a possible link between a warming planet and increased volcanic activity, although some certainly say it’s worth looking into. But as we know, these things take a long, long time and we humans tend to want results “now” – and certainly in our lifetimes. Felicity Liggins,a climate consultant with the UK met office.
Met Office Climate Change Guide
did answer my enquiry, explaining that there is some evidence from the geological record of a potential link between changes in climate and volcanic activity through changes in land ice. But the data and the level of scientific understanding of all this is still very limited, she says, so that it’s not possible to draw any firm conclusions about whether we could expect more things like this to happen as a result of human-induced climate change.
She refers us to the papers I mentioned in the last post, which look at the impact of climate-induced ice unloading on volcanic activity. The authors use examples from Iceland.
Now of course the huge impact and publicity caused by the volcanic eruption make it a fine time to draw the attention of a wider public to research like this, which might otherwise only interest a very small minority. I certainly find the topic worthy of note and would be happy if the Icelandic eruption and associated publicity leads to some more research into this.
Another “positive” thing to come out of the flying ban is the amount of CO2 emissions we saved, although given the current frenzy to make up for it, the question is how high the reduction will really be overall.
I interviewed Jan Burck from Germanwatch about this.

You can see from the picture in the background that the organisation is concerned with “North-South” dialogue and creating a fairer world.
Jan took the emissions from European airtraffic per day, which amounts to an estimated one million tonnes of CO2. Taken over a whole week, he says those cancelled flights would have saved approxiamately one percent of Germany’s annual emissions, or as much as a whole country the size of Latvia emits in a year. That is a lot of CO2.
Maybe this whole crisis has made a lot of people think twice about flying, the form of transport most harmful to the climate. Estimates by Germanwatch and others say travelling just 3,000 km by air emits one tonne of CO2. By car, you could cover 7,000 km, by train between 15 and 20,000 km before producing the same amount. (Of course there are very complex calculations behind all this).
Jan Burck hopes big companies might re-think their travel policy, encouraging staff to use the train inside Europe, for instance. He also made the point to me that being “grounded” can give us a feel for distance and the size of the planet that a lot of people have lost, because air travel takes us across such big distances so quickly. Nice point Jan, good food for thought.


April 22, 2010 | 8:06 am