British History - Modern

World War One - A Land Ship (Tank) navigates across no man's land
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.
Soviet Union Space vehicle Soyuz.
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.
F15 Eagles of the US air force played a major role in the Gulf Wars, securing air superiority and deliveing accurate 'smart' bombs to targets in Iraq.
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.
Glaciation starts with snowfall in the uplands. The snow doesn't melt and builds up. Eventually it covers enough ground to start reflecting UV light, which accelerates the process.
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
Component Symbol Volume
Nitrogen N2 78.084%
Oxygen O2 20.947%
Argon Ar 0.934%
Carbon Dioxide CO2 0.033%
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 monoxide CO trace
Ammonia NH3 trace
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%
Carbon dioxide 0.03%
Nitrous Oxide 0.0002%
Methane 0.0002%
Ozone 0.0007%
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
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
1912 Titanic sinks.
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