El Niño, peak oil and chillies

The Pacific Ocean is experiencing its second most powerful recorded temperature swing at present – the El Niño effect. This changes weather all over the world and, the suggestion is, this will cause the BBQ summer, that we were supposed to have this year, to occur next year instead. It will also cause increased rainfall in South America and drought in Australasia and Africa, amongst other things.
For once, to the best of everyone’s knowledge, this phenomenon is not manmade. Its effects will worsen the situation for many in the affected countries – countries that are already suffering from manmade global warming and the associated weather effects.
This is a good example of how everything is connected and reinforces the point that prediction of the outcome for global heating is almost impossibly difficult because so many natural and manmade events are intertwined.
The general consensus remains, however, that we have an almost unimaginably large and difficult problem to confront. Every indication points to an accelerating rate of change and the start of positive feedback loops developing in which one effect starts another which in turn accelerates the first…and so on.
So, coincidentally…
Reports are emerging that peak oil, the point at which oil extraction starts to decline as reserves are exhausted, will be around 2010. Oil will not run out, ever, but there will come a time when the effort required to extract it is greater than the reward for doing so. We need to prepare for this now. So much of our way of life is oil dependent, that life without it appears to pose insurmountable difficulties but we are a clever and adaptable species. Having got the oil out of the ground, how should it be used so as not to increase atmospheric CO2? In reality, oil is too precious a resource to simply burn. It should really be used as an industrial feedstock and nothing else.
All that’s needed is the political will to make the necessary changes but at present there is no sign that any politician is willing to fire the starting gun for this, the 21st century’s version of the space race – ‘not because it is easy but because it is hard…’
In line with many other people, we are doing our best to grow fruit and veggies in increasing quantities at home. The process is not without its hazards. I failed to label the pots in which the chillies are growing and so we do not know which are the hot ones and which are the ordinary ones. My wife was preparing a dish and thought to taste a chilli to see which sort it was. She spent the next half hour with her tongue either wrapped around an ice cube or dipped in soothing yoghourt.
A pen and labels are going to be more readily available in the greenhouse next year!

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