Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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Weather and Tides
(Aired 2 February 2006)

    Recently the engineers at the Guyana Association of Professional Engineers GAPE sent me my usual copy of their issue the GAPEVINE.

    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 very informative.

    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 it.

    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 worse.

    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 is.

   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 the sea.

    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.