Recently the engineers at the Guyana Association
of Professional Engineers GAPE sent me my usual copy of their issue the
Whoever sends me this newsletter, since
I am not an engineer, I would like to thank them since I find quite a bit of it
The GAPEVINE newsletter I just received
was the November/December edition Volume 8 of 2005.
Ladies and gentlemen very few things
frighten me but contained in this issue of the GAPEVINE there is an article
that I found terrifying living as we do on the coastland of Guyana which is
some 4 feet below sea level right now.
The article I am referring to is
entitled "Melting Ice gives Scientists the Chills!"
This article was written by Ian Hoffman
of the US Oakland tribune was published in that newspaper in November 2005.
I want to back track here a little and
tell you about Global Warming, in my commentaries from the time I sit down to
write it, I assume that the person I am talking to does not know anything about
the matter to be discussed, so I always start at the beginning and even those
who do know something about it I like to think that my work will give them a
better understanding of the matter than before.
The sun gives off light and heat, the
heat arrives on earth as ultraviolet radiation, UV Rays to those who buy sun
block to protect our skin from these dangerous electromagnetic emissions from
the sun which causes skin cancer.
Fortunately all of the UV rays leaving
the sun does not get to the surface of the earth 35% is reflected back into
space by the Ozone layer and what passes through, by one method or the other is
reflected back into space by the planet and its atmosphere itself.
The ozone layer has been getting thinner
over the past 40-50 years since man has begun to use chemicals which deplete
the levels of ozone located around 50/70 kilometres above the earth's surface, these
chemicals know widely a cloro-floro-carbons or CFC's have been destroying the
Ozone layer, the thinner the ozone layer becomes more UV light passes though
Our atmosphere consists of 78 percent
Nitrogen and 21 percent Oxygen now these gasses Oxygen and Nitrogen do no absorb
the heat of the UV rays, in fact when they heat up as a result of being exposed
to the UV light oxygen and nitrogen actually reflect the heat back into space
when their molecules become excited and form a barrier to the passage of heat. Now
for the temperature of our planet to stay constant, it has to radiate back into
space almost as much UV as it receives, when it radiates less it gets hot and
when it radiates more it gets cool.
Less than 1 % of the earth's atmosphere
contain gases other than nitrogen 78% and oxygen 21% some of these gasses are
inert like Aragon and do not form part of the equation but Carbon Dioxide and Methane
do. Now you have to understand that the amount of Carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere is small only 0.04% but according to a study done in Manua Loa the
longest existing study of atmospheric Carbon Dioxide rise over the past 47 years
from 1959 to 2004 shows that it has increased by 19%, the rise in methane is
even more dramatic 145% over the past 130 years.
Carbon Dioxide CO2 and Methane CH4 are
more complex and heavier molecules than nitrogen and Oxygen so they tend to
stay low in the atmosphere close to the surface, much like water being heavier
then oil so the water will always be at the bottom and the oil will float on
top, so too does the methane and the Carbon Dioxide stay low in the atmosphere
and they absorb enormous amounts of heat so instead of being radiated back out
into space this heat gets trapped in the lower atmosphere causing what is known
as the green house effect. By itself this green house effect and a rise of .6
degrees Celsius over the past 60 years is not in itself a problem, but the ice
on the planet is. This ice is located at the northern and southern poles of the
planet especially in Greenland, the Artic Circle and Antarctica.
It was always understood that the
rising temperature and the green house effect would cause the ice at the poles
to melt and that in decades it will cause the sea level to rise, but recent
studies show that that is not what is happening, what is happening is far, far
Eric Rignot an ice scientist at the NASA
Jet propulsion laboratory in Pasadena California says and I quote him "what we
are seeing is that all of these Glaciers are losing mass very rapidly, in
Greenland the climate driver is obvious" using radar and laser measurements Rignot
found that Greenland, the worlds second largest storehouse of frozen fresh water
as ice, lost 222 cubic kilometres of ice in 2005 which fell into the Ocean!! That's
an ice cube 25 kilometres long, 4.5 kilometres wide and 2 kilometres thick,
that is enough water to feed 30 cities the size of Los Angeles a year. And we
have not even begun to study Antarctica where the largest accumulation of ice
The precise mechanics of glacial speed
up is still unclear but several scientists think that ice melt on the surface
is percolating down underneath the glaciers, through small fractures both
lifting them up as the water comes under pressure from the ice on top of it and
provides lubrication which is causing the ice to slide easily over rock into
A NASA study using the GRACE satellites
is showing exactly the same thing, that Greenland has lost 162 Cubic kilometres
of ice every year since 2002, so the global warming is not causing the ice to
melt and flow into the ocean in a trickle as was first thought, the ice is
literally breaking apart from the places where it is piled thousands of feet
high like mountains into the sea, causing the oceans to rise at an incredible
rate, the conventional computer simulations they were using taking the
melting of polar ice and heat expansion of the oceans into account as part of
their computations are now meaningless, with minor variations they all predicted
a rise in sea level of 3 feet by the end of this century, but none of those
climate change and ocean rise models took into account this accelerating
glacier flow into the oceans, so the situation has completely changed and if this
continues, we have dramatically underestimated the rise of the oceans over the
next century instead of being 3 feet we may be looking at a rise of 21 feet!
One billion people on the planet could be affected. That frightens me.
As if this is not frightening enough we
have the most illiterate, incompetent, corrupt government in charge of our
affairs at this time in our history which can see centuries of effort keeping
the sea out, go to waste in the next 10 years taking us with it.
In 2005 between 14th to the
18th January more than 26 inches of rain fell in those 5 days, the
month of January 2005 produced more than 43 inches of rainfall so I understood
the flooding we experienced when the lama collapsed after that 26 inches of
rain fell in 5 days, it was inevitable our system is just not designed to take
off that kind of water, and I said so but the entire January 2006 produced only
20.44 inches of rainfall, so where did all of this flooding in Mahaicony come
from? I'll tell you where it came from total incompetence that's where it came
from, well I don't know about you all but if the PPP gets back into power with
full control of Parliament where they can get away with all of their
incompetence unchecked, I'm outta here, since just as I predicted the
unpreparedness of the national drainage system to cope with the heavy rainfall
this country usually gets since January 2004, I am predicting that unless you
people elect good managers now, we will lose the Coastland in 10 years.
And when I say the coastland I mean
everything from the seawall to the high sand reef areas inland at Timehri. And
I repeat you have to start now! Not like the president of this
country running to Cuba to solve our sugar problems now, after the price
has dropped, he should have been doing something about it 5 years ago.