Curiosity piqued

So I finally, I managed to watch an episode of, Cosmos, hosted by astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson. I enjoyed it, to a non-science guy like me, the show was narrated in an easy to understand language.

The particular episode I watched was about about climate change. I managed to switch to the National Geographic channel just as Neil was making comparisons between earth’s atmosphere to Venus. Basically, what I got from it was that, Venus’ atmosphere would be an example of an extreme case of global warming, where high concentration of greenhouse gases (ninety plus percent carbon dioxide, yikes!), traps heat, keeping surface temperatures around 400 degrees celsius.

Thanks to certain lifeforms on earth, carbon dioxide is (was) kept at 0.03% of the atmosphere, retaining just enough heat from the sun to keep things nice and comfortable. It’s disheartening to know that due to increased industrialisation, humans have single handedly managed to release more CO2 than the earth could absorb through its natural carbon cycle. Also, it’s quite disappointing to learn that in our early ages, we’ve come across technologies that could have helped us avoid, or slow down global warming.

I liked that Neil explained the difference between climate and weather. Simply put, the weather is short term, caused by minute changes in the atmosphere, and climate, is the long term, bigger picture. An analogy that was given was that, weather, is like a dog on a leash, straying side to side, going as far as the leash allows, whereas climate, is the person walking the dog, the one who sets the direction. Hence, extreme weather changes, like recent record cold winters and extreme summers are the result of the climate heading towards something more worrying.

I’m going to stop here now, as I realise that what I know, extends only this far, and any conclusion I come up with could be a large leap in reasoning.

But hey, Cosmos has piqued my interest, and hopefully, with a lot more reading, I can understand this whole climate change thing better.


p.s. I’m going to leave this comic here for future reference:

XKCD: Cold

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