The Second World War sparked a rapid acceleration of the industrial revolution, which was futher fuelled by post war friction between the Soviet backed Eastern Bloc and the Western NATO alliance; air transport was transformed by the invention of the Jet engine and rocket propulsion enabled men to be sent to the moon.The Soviet Union launched the first Earth-orbiting artificial satellite called Sputnik on 4 October 1957. They followed this achievement on 12 April 1961 when Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in outer space and the first to orbit the Earth.
The United States of America responded with the manned Projects Mercury and Gemini followed by the Apollo missions, which culminated in Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin setting foot on the Moon on July 20, 1969.
Cultural advances included the establishment of the welfare state and the right for women to vote. Advances in communications included radio and television and personal computers.
Oil is a significant factor in today's society, particularly in the Western first world countries. The Gulf war's have been partly due to the ever increasing need to secure the availability of this ever decreasing vital resource.
One of the main elements of these wars were aircraft - fast jets capable of penetrating deep into enemy territory to deliver their lethal payloads. Technology such as this was not even conceived at the beginning of the 20th century and is only available now because of oil.
Global warming or Climate Change is a subject that most people will be familiar with these days. Increased Carbon Dioxide levels causing greenhouse gas effects that are warming up the Earth and melting the ice caps, with catastrophic consequences being prophesised as a result.
Ironically one of the effects of Global warming is likely to be increased snowfall and glacial building. As the seas warm up they produce more water vapour, which then leads to wetter climates and more precipitation over mountains falling as snow. The snow reflects sunlight keeping the snow cool, which then builds up over the years and forms glaciers that radiate from mountainous regions.
Global temperature rises and falls naturally. In the past 4000 years there have been three distinct 'warm' periods known as the Minoan, Roman and Medieval. The Medieval warm period was followed by the 'little ice age'. These warm/cold phases suggest that there is a 1,100 year cycle to interglacial climate behaviour.
The Medieval warm period was warm enough (about 1°C higher than today) for the Vikings to establish a colony in Greenland. It might be worth noting that Polar Bears survived this period.
It has been known for some time that global climate is linked to Carbon Di-Oxide levels. Carbon dioxide levels have been increasing from the time man started to develop agriculture about 4,000 years ago but the rate has risen sharply since the Industrial revolution.
Higher concentrations of CO2 and higher rainfall has a beneficial effect on plant growth (look at the Jurassic), and historically this has been good for humans - look at the development of civilisation during the Minoan, Roman and Medieval 'warm' periods.
Composition of Air
|Neon||Ne||18.2 parts per million|
|Helium||He||5.2 parts per million|
|Methane||CH4||2.0 parts per million|
|Krypton||Kr||1.1 parts per million|
|Sulphur dioxide||SO2||1.0 parts per million|
|Nitrous Oxide||N2O||0.5 parts per million|
|Hydrogen||H2||0.5 parts per million|
|Xenon||Xe||0.09 parts per million|
|Ozone||O3||0.07 parts per million|
|Nitrogen dioxide||NO2||0.02 parts per million|
|Iodine||I2||0.01 parts per million|
Carbon dioxide levels are currently about 330 parts per millions. In the past this has been as high as 1800 parts per million (18%). The main concern is not the amount of CO2 but the rate at which it is increasing and the effect this might have on the animals and plants, and in particular on us.
|Green House gasses|
|Component||Percent of atmosphere by vol.|
|Water Vapour||up to 4%|
The graph below illustrates the temperatures during past periods of Earth's history. As you can see it has been quite high for much of the time and we are presently in a very cool period. In fact we are in an Ice Age. Ice Age's are characterised by the presence of ice sheets, particularly at the poles, and interspaced with 20,000 year long phases of increasing and receding glaciation; at the moment the glaciers are receding. Historic temperatures from the cambrian to the present day
During an ice age there are regions, especially around the tropics, that will be higher than average temperatures. Even during the great freeze of 400 million years ago the ice was restricted to the main landmasses, which were predominantly in the southern hemisphere centred around the South Pole. Elsewhere the sea and landmasses in the tropics were relatively warm and ice free.
The big question is not about whether temperatures are rising, as this has been demonstrated, but more about if this will have a detrimental effect on our lives by creating famine, floods, rising sea levels and other problems; or through cultural and political changes being made in the name of such potential problems, by government officials led by the claims of a tightly knit group of career conscious climatologists and scare stories published by the media. Will we the people find out the truth? History says probably not, but we and our descendents will almost certainly foot the bill, whilst a select few collect it.
|1903||Wilbur and Orville Wright's biplane makes historic 12 second flight.|
|Women's Social and Political Union (Suffragettes) founded.|
|1908||Henry Ford produces the first|
|1914||World War One breaks out|
|1917||The Russian Revolution begins.|
|1918||World War One ends.|
|1925||Logie Baird invent the first working television.|
|1928||Sir Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin.|
|1929||Start of the world wide recession.|
|1935||Radar is invented|
|1938||Neville Chamberlain buys 'Peace in our Time' by allowing Nazi Germany to invade Czechoslovakia.|
|1939||World War Two begins|
|1945||First Atomic bomb is tested in New Mexico.|
|World War two ends with two Nuclear bombs being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.|
|1947||India is given independence.|
|1948||Russia blockades West Berlin|
|1949||The first civilian Jet Airliner - the 'Comet'.|
|The Cold War begins.|
|Russia tests its first nuclear bomb|
|1961||Manned space flight begins with Yuri Gagarin|
|1969||Man lands on the Moon|
|1989||Berlin Wall torn down.|
|1991||War against Iraq to Free Kuwait|
|2001||9/11 Terrorist attack against the Twin Towers in New York|
|2005||Hurricane Katrina - Winds up to 175mph and over 1800 deaths|