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Climate Change. What would it, and could it, do to the Tropics?. Why is this important?. Climate change would most directly affect agriculture ; in the tropics, a greater percentage of people derive their subsistence and livelihood directly from agriculture than anywhere else on earth.

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climate change

Climate Change

What would it, and could it, do to the Tropics?

why is this important
Why is this important?
  • Climate change would most directly affect agriculture; in the tropics, a greater percentage of people derive their subsistence and livelihood directly from agriculture than anywhere else on earth.
why is this important 2
Why is this important? 2
  • Many people in the tropics live on the margin of cultivation or livestock production, so that relatively small changes of climate can have huge, and disastrous impacts—remember what we said about the Monsoon Climate.
why is this important1
Why is this important?
  • The tropics is a major “sink” for Carbon Dioxide, and if the rain forest becomes drier, then it can burn and its capacity to produce oxygen will be reduced.

In Asia, parts of Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia have been blanketed in thick smoke for months.

some basic facts
Some Basic Facts.
  • We know, for a fact, that climate does change, and has changed quite radically in the past, and so we must expect it to change again in the future.
  • Think of the Ice Ages, and the fact that the last great glaciation of North America stopped just north of Bloomington around Martinsville.
basic issue 2
Basic Issue 2
  • We really do not understand as much about climate as we may indicate. Weather forecasting is one thing, climatology is something else entirely. The climate is incredibly complex; we do not know all the variables and how they interact. So, our science is very imperfect, and our ability to predict is likewise impaired. The climate is a huge, interactive energy system
basic problems 3
Basic Problems 3
  • It is often very difficult with climate to separate cause and effect.
  • For instance, the land may appear to be drying up, which indicates climate change. On the other hand, the climate may be changing because we are messing with the surface of the Earth. (Remember what we said about the Monsoon).
basic problems 4
Basic Problems 4
  • There is real confusion about the Nature of Evidence—evidence of What? The same phenomenon may have several different, possible causes.
  • Plus: trends and cycles; lack of direct time-series data; use of surrogate measures, etc.
  • Conflict between Scientific Proof and Risk Analysis.
what can change the climate 1
What can change the climate? 1
  • Most fundamentally, the amount of energy put out by the sun.
  • We used to call this the “Solar Constant,” but now we know it is far from constant.
  • Canadian scientists say this is the reason that we have Global Warming; not because of CO2.
what can change the climate 2
What can change the climate? 2
  • Human manipulation of the climate system. Environmental Mismanagement and Unintended Consequences.
  • Mainly through land clearance and the emission of gases that change the atmospheric chemistry. Greenhouse effect, deforestation, land clearance, dust etc.

Think of this not as

“Heat” but as “Energy”

how to change the climate 3
How to Change the Climate 3
  • Putting particulates into the atmosphere. On the one hand, these may form rain nuclei, but on the other hand they may absorb heat at different altitudes causing temperature inversions, and preventing air from the ground from rising. (Monsoon inhibiter)
how change comes
How Change Comes
  • Though we talk about “Global Warming” as a progressive thing, the main impact will be experienced through “Extreme Events.”
  • Is this what we are seeing now
the policy dilemma
The Policy Dilemma.

Politicians, and others, have a vested interest in promoting the “Natural Disaster” scenario because it absolves them of responsibility, and puts the blame on God. Hurricane Katrina was a “natural phenomenon.” The “Disaster” part was the result of gross mismanagement and neglect of scientific advice, which has nothing to do with God.

  • For the most part, strictly speaking, the scientists cannot prove that there is climate change, or if there is, what is causing it.
  • This could be a perfectly normal set of variations, it could be part of a longer natural trend, or it could be the result of man’s rapid consumption of energy.
the policy dilemma1
The Policy Dilemma
  • The People who deal best with this type of “uncertainty” and “probability” question, are the insurance companies, because they work on risk analysis, not blame avoidance.
  • On this basis, they simply say that the situation is becoming statistically worse, and the cost of insurance will go up, or the property may be uninsurable.
so what does all this mean
So, what does all this mean?
  • For the two extremes: the desert and the rain forest, probably not too much.
  • For the Monsoon areas—potentially disastrous.
  • These areas are very densely-populated, and very reliant on the monsoon for basis subsistence.

Drought and Advancing Desert


Climate change, however, is a global problem, and cause and effect do not necessarily occur in the same geographical location.

  • The Zonal, as opposed to the Boundary, climates, can absorb some change.
  • Most of the people in Asian tropical monsoonal areas live in very low-lying regions, very susceptible to storms, storm surges, and devastating flooding.

But, it would be good to remember that the Tropics is the “Heat Engine” that drives the rest of the world’s climates—mess with that and you mess with everything