Mike Wiseman talking to Denise TaylorEditor of Wavelength Magazine
How did your interest begin? ‘I’ve always been interested in natural sciences and began a correspondence course with the Open University. One of my study units included Geology and I spent a week in Summer School at Durham University.
Part of the course included a visit to a local quarry and I vividly recall one of the students discovering the fossil of a fish which was 400 million years old. I was amazed and began to ask myself ‘Where do we (the human race) fit into all of this?’
So, where does the human race fit into all of this?
‘In the overall evolution of our planet we are totally insignificant but the effect we have had during our short stay has been catastrophic. As a species we have depleted nearly all the natural resources and returned nothing to help nature on the road to recovery. Yet we expect to remain as the dominant spices forever. During the 4.5 billion years of our planets history, and especially the last 600 million years or so, all dominant spices have become extinct and yet we are arrogant enough to think we are indestructible. As of today, we can only grow enough crops to feed the human race to our standard (i.e. European) if we only number two billion. At the moment we have six billion people, so we should be inhabiting three earth size planets to feed everybody to our standard.
Scientists advise that the planet is naturally entering a warmer phase. However, I’ve also heard that the UK is going to get a lot colder. Will be basking in tropical sunshine or suffering Siberian winters? If you are talking of the UK, summers will be somewhat warmer, but a lot wetter. Our winters will be much colder, on par with Moscow and other countries on our latitude. This is because global warming is melting the ice in Greenland and the North Pole. As this ice melts it will cut off the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, which is the only thing that protects us from the very cold winter weather at our location on the planet. Africa, South America and Australia will be subject to intense drought and crop failure on a scale we are yet to witness.’
I heard on BBC Radio that the country id going to warm up by 3 degrees, causing rising tides, coastal erosion, warmer weather, flash floods etc. Would you like to share your views on this?
‘As the land ice (i.e. Greenland and the North and South Poles, not forgetting Glaciers) melts, sea levels will rise quite dramatically. This is not a scare mongering statement but a planetary historical fact. Over the history of our planet, sea levels have been hundreds of feet higher than today and it is known that the land ice, during these periods, was virtually non existent. It was predicted that, from before our industrial revolution to now, the planet, to avoid warming disasters, must not warm up by more than 5.4 degrees. We are now at the 6 degree mark and still ignoring the signs, although the clock is still counting. We are not far from a runaway positive feedback situation and we aren’t giving ourselves time to evolve naturally.’
Do you have any examples of what is happening to the planet?
‘As mentioned before, in South America the glaciers all along the Andes have practically disappeared. When the source dries up, predicted 10 years, where are all these people going to live? When the sea level rises, coastal areas will travel inland and people in Bangladesh, even America and the UK, will have to move. But I ask ‘Where to?’ In Alaska the homes of indigenous people are sinking into the Earth as the permafrost melts – permafrost is the foundation of their housing. Sixty miles from Beijing the countryside is a dust bowl and is advancing at an alarming rate.’
Is there really anything we, as individuals, can do to reverse this?
‘Global warming is inevitable, Planetary history shows this. Mainly through ignorance and lack of knowledge we have speeded up the process. Greenhouse gases are always being put into the atmosphere. The rate we, as a species, have accelerated this process is beyond belief. Nature is a wonderful provider and will try to keep the balance and may possibly evolve us to live with change over time. We have accelerated the process so fast nature cannot cope. We need to buy as much time as we can and stop thinking of ourselves and our selfish comforts, otherwise our children and grandchildren will be inheriting a planet that won’t be worth anything.’
My School Certificate from when I left Mayfield in 1953