Tag Archives: Global Warming

Tipping Point – Facts Behind The Fiction.

23 Aug

Without giving away too many book spoilers, I thought I’d write a brief blog for anyone who may be wondering if there is any truth behind the themes in my action-adventure thrillerTIPPING POINT.

The Tipping Point of the title refers to the point at which an irreversible melting of the Arctic’s ice pack occurs. Other themes explored in the novel are geoengineering, peak oil, the ocean thermohaline circulation and the melting of Greenland’s ice sheet! Whilst Robert Spire is left to solve the deaths of the climatologists in the book, we look at whether these themes have any basis in science fact. Let’s have a look in more detail.

The Arctic

Tipping Point explores the underlying theme that the Arctic is melting from global warming. Each year the ice pack covering the Arctic melts and retreats during the summer and freezes over again in the winter, with its maximum melt each year in September. Data from the National Snow and Ice Data Centre reveals that Arctic ice cover is on a downward trend. 2007 was the lowest recorded level, but 2011 looks likely to set a new record low. Scientists predict the Arctic may be ice free during the summer between 2013 and 2019, a startling and worrying fact. This would mean the opening of the fabled Northwest Passage – a route between the Atlantic and the Pacific – and give more opportunities for countries and companies to plunder the riches the Arctic has to offer.

Geoengineering

In the book, French climatologist Francois Trimaud has developed a specialised form of iron sulphate to fertilise the Arctic Ocean, in order to slow down and reverse the Arctic’s melting ice by increasing Arctic albedo (reflectivity) levels. The experimental substance contains a whitening pigment called Blankoplankton.
Scientists are indeed looking at ways to geoengineer the Earth’s climate to solve, or reduce the effects of global warming. Iron fertilisation of the oceans is one method.

Peak Oil

A theme explored in Tipping Point is the possibility that the World’s oil resources are running out, that supplies have reached a peak and are now on a downward curve. This theory was proposed by M King Hubbert, and he successfully predicted that the USA would reach its peak oil production in the early 1970s. Has this now happened with Saudi Arabia’s oil supplies?

Ocean Thermohaline Circulation

In Tipping Point, the book opens with UK climatologist Dr Dale Stanton’s untimely death, preventing him delivering a talk on the Atlantic Ocean’s thermohaline circulation. The OTC or great ocean conveyor as it is known, is an important ocean current which brings warm water up from the Equator to the east coast of the USA and Europe in the form of the North Atlantic Drift and Gulf Stream. The film ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ is based on the premise of the current suddenly failing, heralding in a new ice-age.
The UKs RAPID-WATCH project measures the rate or flow of the ocean current to assess whether its strength is changing. This project runs until 2014.

During a period called the Younger Dryas, a significant shutdown of the current is thought to have caused a rapid decline from relatively warmer conditions back to ice-age conditions in a blink of an eye in climactic terms. A huge influx of fresh water from Lake Agassiz is thought to have been the possible cause. The fresh water flowing into the Atlantic would have disrupted the ocean flow by interfering with its thermohaline conveyor system. 
Scientists are concerned that an increase in fresh water flowing into the Atlantic from Greenland’s melting ice sheets could once again disrupt the Thermo (heat) and haline (salt) engine that drives this essential current. 

Greenland Melting?

A back story in Tipping Point is the fact that a huge glacier on Greenland is melting, which causes isotactic adjustment of the Greenland continent underneath. Research does indeed show that Greenland glacier ice-melt is accelerating.

These are the facts. Now if you fancy a thrilling action-adventure, why don’t YOU read TIPPING POINT?

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Saving Planet Earth

23 Aug

My new business cards arrived last week – the ones which have “Tipping Point, A Robert Spire Thriller,” printed on them. I put a few in my wallet, thinking, you never know, they might come in handy.

Coming to the end of another weekend in the middle of July, I’m looking out of the window and I ask myself, where is our summer? It’s the middle of July, but the weather is lousy. Mind you, in the UK it’s supposed to be a scorching 27 degrees Celsius today…wow! Not bad for the middle of summer. Mid-summer’s day was like mid-winter. So what’s going on I wondered?

Are we just having another bad summer? Have we already had our summer? The weather in April and May was fantastic, but now it’s lousy. Could something more sinister be going on? Could it be the dreaded G.W word, I’m talking about global warming, you know, climate change.

I recall years ago…I’m thinking back to the 1970s and early 1980s when we used to have long hot summers and cold, snowy winters here in the UK, but no more. Summer is usually wet, what we have of it usually appears in April and May, and at Christmas time, well now you can wear a T-shirt and not catch a chill – apart from last year, snow did actually fall…in October!

Not only that, but there’s not a day that goes by without a story in the news about global warming causing melting ice caps, rising sea levels, Arctic methane release, melting the Arctic, ocean acidification, increasing Co2 levels – yes they measure these from Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii, and deforestation. These are just some of the consequences. 

The planet appears to be doomed. Not only that, but today I found out that a NEO or Near Earth Object – an asteroid in this case passed within 7500 miles of the Earth on Monday 27th June! This thing was only discovered recently, and passed within Earth’s geosynchronous satellite population before accelerating back out to space, pretty close eh? And that’s not the only one. These things are zipping by all the time. What about all the others that haven’t been discovered yet?

So, with this all in mind, I decided I needed a drink. I went out to a local bar and was enjoying a few drinks when an attractive red-head came up to me. She asked, “Have you got a light please?”

I looked into her green eyes and thought, damn, would have been a good time to have a pack of cigarettes, or at least a lighter with me, even though I don’t smoke. I said, “sorry, no,” but quickly remembered an old booklet of matches I had in my pocket. “Actually, I have,” I said, handing her the booklet. “But you shouldn’t smoke you know, It’s bad for you, and bad for the planet.”

“What do you mean?” She asked, looking amused.

“Global warming,” I joked.

“I used to think that was rubbish,” she said, “but now I really do think something is going on, I mean look at the weather, middle of summer and it’s terrible!”

I couldn’t help joining her for a cigarette, wanting to chat more about the topic, so followed her outside. After two cigarettes – which I felt a little guilty about – and a depressing chat about saving planet Earth from the perils of global warming and asteroid collision, she said to me;

“So, if the is Earth doomed, who can save us? The X-Men, The Green Lantern, Transformers?”

I said, “They are all comic book heroes, but Robert Spire would certainly have a go.”

“Robert  Spire?” She said. “Who’s he?”

I pulled out my wallet and handed her my card.