Paul Brown needs to get his facts right on climate change.

A letter to the Sheffield Star

Firstly he seems to believe we have stopped burning coal. There are still three coal power stations in the UK. Globally we are consuming more coal than ever, despite the urgent need to reduce it. Coal is the single largest source of carbon emissions and consumption increased by 9% from 2020 to 2021 with the biggest increases in the European Union and India. 

West Burton Coal fired power station, Nottinghamshire. By Richard Croft, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Secondly, he thinks our atmosphere has “dried up and cleaned up”.  The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased every year of my life. When I was born back in 1959 there were less than 320 parts per million of CO2 in the air. Now it is more than 410 and it is still steadily increasing! Other greenhouse gases like methane have also increased. 

Graph showing increase of CO2 in the atmosphere from 1958 to 2022

Paul is confused about the effects of soot in the atmosphere. Breathing it in has serious health effects such as heart attacks, strokes, bronchitis and aggravated asthma. 

Soot actually has a cooling effect on the earth as it prevents some of the sun’s radiation from reaching us. So if all the coal-powered stations were shut down tomorrow, the earth would actually warm up slightly as a result. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t shut down the coal power stations though as stopping their emissions is vital for our survival. 

Soot from forest fires near the arctic is causing a problematic feedback loop. The white ice in the arctic reflects the sun’s rays back to space. But if the ice is covered in soot, the dark surface absorbs the heat and increases ice melt. When the ice has melted, that surface is also darker, so more heat is absorbed and melting continues to speed up. This is just one of many feedback loops which will all interact with each other and will send our climate out of control if we don’t act now to reduce emissions.    

Attempts to suggest that climate change is not a massive problem are dangerous. The record temperatures we are expecting this week are just a foretaste of the extreme weather we can expect in the future. 

Yours faithfully

Graham Wroe

Norfolk Park

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