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September 28, 2009

What if the Global AC breaks?

ENVIRONMENT - Ever had your air conditioner break on a hot day? Or the power go out and you can't run a fan? Maybe you can't even open a window, but the light keeps coming in. You get all hot and sticky very quickly don't you?

Now imagine that on a global scale.

Our planet has been warming up over the last hundred years due to greenhouse gases / global warming, but thankfully the arctic and antarctic ice caps have been offsetting that increase in temperature. Its the ice box in Earth's temperature equilibrium.

Think of the ice caps as a giant air conditioning system for the whole planet, keeping us cool. If those ice caps melt completely (causing coastal flooding and rising sea levels) we will no longer have a proverbial air conditioner keeping the Earth a relatively temperate climate.

Indeed, we would see our planet go from a temperate climate to a very hot arid / humid climate in a very short period of time and it would just keep getting worse because of the build up of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.

Over the last 100 years the global average temperature has gone up 0.8 degrees Celsius, slowed down thanks to melting ice caps. Even if we stopped producing greenhouse gases instantly scientists have determined the average temperature will still go up another 1.4 degrees Celsius by 2040. If we continue to produce greenhouse gases at an alarming rate that temperature increase will be even more dramatic.

But here's the lynch pin... when the polar ice caps melt there won't be an air conditioner any more offsetting the temperature increases elsewhere. When the ice melts it will be gone and we will see a dramatic shift towards very hot, humid weather, lots of hurricanes, extreme thunderstorms and weather so unpredictable it will make the poor weatherman's head spin.

To say nothing of the damage it will do to the farming and agricultural industries, the tourism industry, and the safety of the human race / other species suffering from climate change.

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