Convergence of information – Climate Change Impact

I read a post yesterday and another today from completely different sources and I have been moved to write this post since it makes personal the normally impersonal thoughts and ideas about Climate Change. Let me explain…

I am retired but before I retired I ran the Institute for Sustainable Development in Business and before that I had a long involvement with Environmental and Sustainable development issues in different ways. Also, before that last role, I lectured in Business subjects including (from early in my teaching career) lecturing on the Diploma in Management Studies.(DMS).

When lecturing on the DMS in the late 1970s early 1980s we had one student from the other side of the world on the course and since yesterday I have been wracking my brain trying to recall his name but, with my apologies to him, he will have to remain anonymous. He was one of the nicest students I ever had, such a gentle soul and very motivated to learn everything that would help him and his people. He was from what were then known as the Gilbert and Ellice Islands and as far as I can recall he had been appointed to run the Cooperative retail business there, so he was doing the DMS to develop his business skills.

Just as an aside, as well as being a gentle soul he was also a little ‘other-worldly’ and must have found the Culture-shock from Pacific Island living to living in Europe a challenge. At the time I was responsible for taking the DMS group to Paris for a week to visit French companies and compare management styles and I recall he missed one session at a company because he was so fascinated with the ‘busyness’ of the Paris Metro that he missed getting off at the correct stop and spent most of the afternoon riding the metro… at least that’s what he said!? And I think he was incapable of fibbing…

Anyway the Gilbert and Ellice Islands became independent, I think in 1976 and soon thereafter changed their names. the Gilbert Islands became Kiribati and the Ellice Islands became Tuvalu, sometime in 1978 and 1979, or the other way round. So yesterday I was reading the post of someone who was kind enough to say he liked MY post and one of the things he had picked up on from HIS reading was that Kiribati has bought land in Fiji to enable them to move their population from Kiribati over the next few years (about 100,000 people).

The link was to Matt Mullenweg’s page  – and he posted the kiribati comment on 27th July…..see what I mean about convergence of information. He had been watching the olympic games and had never heard about Kiribati before they appeared in the parade. Serendipity rules!

OK – that is one strand of my convergence. Olympics, Kiribati, Gilbert and Ellice, ex-student, new home on Fiji’s second biggest Island

The second strand is LinkedIn, emails of things going on in groups I have joined, lots of posts to choose from; and the post I chose to read was about Climate Change being influenced by and influencing ice melt in the Arctic. See sorry about the long link!

It appears that 2012 is going to create a record for the maximum ice-melt in the Arctic for September. Not only that but there has been a surface melt of ice over nearly all of Greenland this year (usually only affects about 50% of mainly lower lying land). This is something not seen in 34 years of satellite coverage (although core sample evidence suggests it happens every 150 years on average since the end of the last ice age)

But the thing that most struck me from the article was that none of the computer models yet predict the scale and extent of change seen in reality from the evidence of the last fifty years or so. Please go to the article for a proper look but the chart that I refer to I have taken the liberty of including below, I hope they won’t mind since I am directing you there to read it properly!….

Graph of sea ice model results The pink and blue lines represent two of the key models and the black line the actual observations of the annual average of millions of square kilometres of ice staying frozen. It is just about possible the observations are just a statistical anomaly within the limits, but it looks to me as though the models are still underestimating the rapidity of change…. anyway I am not an expert so will refrain from commenting further BUT…

Two things struck me from the convergence of all this information. First, since we have a property close to the coast in Brazil, and it is only a few metres above current sea level, I wondered how long it may be before we should worry about inundation and…second… it is clearly already perceived as a problem on Kiribati, since the Government there is planning for real moves of many real people in the foreseeable future…

And so; further questions to ponder. Is my student still alive? Was he from the Gilbert part (Kiribati) or the Ellice part (Tuvalu) of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands? And will he and his family soon be moving to Fiji?

So, you see, Climate Change can be quite a personal thing – not just something that’s happening ‘out there’ and we all have a responsibility to try and change it for the better rather than the worse. And this is from someone who, as an expat currently living in Brazil is probably flying too many air-miles with a large carbon footprint but, to weigh against that I AM growing about three acres of trees in England. So I am not yet sure if I am managing to ‘offset’ my carbon footprint. Perhaps when the trees get a bit older they will absorb more of my CO2 output?


About Keith Melton - Green Lib Dem

Retired English liberal environmentalist living in Nottinghamshire; spent six years in Brazil. Author of Historical Novel - Captain Cobbler: the Lincolnshire Uprising 1536. Active member of the Green Liberal Democrats - (pressure group in Liberal Democrats) - was Founding Chair of GLD in 1988
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