You would think with all the chatter going on about climate that we’d all have a good understanding on the elements of our atmosphere, the role of carbon and other greenhouse gases and the correlation between human activity and climate change.
If you consider yourself to be informed: without looking it up, what is the number one greenhouse gas? If you answered water vapour, you’d be right. It accounts for 80 per cent of total greenhouse gas mass and 90 percent of volume. What about CO2? What percentage is it in the total mix of greenhouses gases? And if you know that, what about anthropogenically generated CO2? What percentage does it account for?
Then what is the dynamic interplay between CO2 within the troposphere (where we live)? And what about CO2 in the stratosphere? Why does CO2 heat the earth in one atmospheric layer and cool it in another? Then there’s the sun, which is hot – as much as 17 million degrees at the core and 5,800 degrees Celsius at the photosphere or surface. Add in solar magnetic energy and coronal mass eruptions, and the climate starts to become challenging to understand.
The Canadian government is now declaring we’re in an emergency state when it comes to climate. We sat down with climate professor Simon Donner for a Conversation That Matters about the science of climate, how it works, what we can do and the reality of our climate and the future.
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by Joseph Romm
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