“It is best to read the weather forecast before praying for rain.” - Mark Twain
Today, the United Nations observes World Meteorological Day
. This is annually held on March 23 to commemorate the official establishment of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)
on this date in 1950. Many different activities and events are organised worldwide for this occasion.
The International Meteorological Organisation was established at the first International Meteorological Congress in Vienna, Austria, in 1873. The organisation aimed to establish meteorological station networks. These networks were linked by telegraph and improved weather forecasts. This contributed to the safety and efficiency of shipping services around the globe. The International Meteorological Organisation became the WMO on March 23, 1950. It became the UN’s specialised agency for meteorology, operational hydrology and related geophysical sciences in 1951. The WMO plays a crucial role in contributing to people’s safety and welfare. Its work is important in providing food security, water resources and transport.
Each year, on 23 March, the WMO, its 189 members and the worldwide meteorological community celebrate World Meteorological Day around a chosen theme. In 2010, the theme is “60 years of service for your safety and well-being”. The meteorological community worldwide is to be commended as it works together continuously beyond national, political, religious and social borders, to save and protect people, their homes and their livelihoods. Many volunteers also support the WMO with generosity and dedication.
The WMO is becoming increasingly important nowadays as we are subjected to immense climatological change that will wreak havoc with our weather and be responsible for major disasters in the decades ahead. Meteorologists will be even more relevant in serving humanity in the near future.
During the last 2 billion years the Earth's climate has alternated between a “fridge”, like the last Ice Age (which ended about 10,000 years ago) and a hothouse, like for example, the Age of the Dinosaurs. Since the end of the last Ice Age, the earth’s climate has been warming. Global warming refers to an average increase in the Earth’s temperature, which in turn causes changes in climate. In the last 100 years, global temperatures have increased by about one degree on average. This may not seem like much, but 100 years is a very short time geologically speaking and one degree is a lot. At the peak of the last ice age (18,000 years ago), the temperature was on average only seven degrees colder than it is today, and glaciers covered much of North America and Europe!
A warmer Earth may lead to changes in rainfall patterns, a rise in sea level, and a wide range of impacts on plants, wildlife, and humans. When scientists talk about the issue of climate change, their concern is about global warming caused by human activities. Climate change has become a controversial topic lately as there have been many claims that the reports of scientists and their research is spurious. Scientists counterclaim that the interests of large multinational corporations that deal in fossil fuels (and have a business interest in how much petrol is sold and consumed) are attempting to protect their profitable business interests and are trying to discredit scientific findings, which indubitably show that human activity and human-mediated environmental change is affecting our climate.
Climate change whether it is primarily caused by humans or whether it is part of the normal earth climate cycles is a big problem as the population of the earth has increased dramatically over the last couple of centuries and the world’s population will suffer dramatic effects due to climate change over the next few decades. Can we humans do something to subvert the changing climate? Once again, opinion is divided, but there are many little things we can do to make an environmental difference, and perhaps limit the contribution we humans have on the environment and climate change. If we try, most of us can do our part to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that we put into the atmosphere.
Think globally, act locally!
Use fewer resources:
Lower your thermostat in winter and raise it in the summer by three degrees
Use energy-conserving compact fluorescent lightbulbs
Turn off the lights and appliances when you don’t need them
Buy appliances with the Energy Star symbol
Drive less, and more efficiently:
Establish car pooling
Walk, bike, or use public transport
Buy a hybrid car (powered by both petrol and electricity)
Reduce waste at home:
Take your own reusable bags with you to the supermarket
Recycle plastic and glass containers and newspapers, magazines, and other paper
Buy post-consumer recycled goods
Get your name off of junk mail lists
When buying food and goods, choose responsibly:
Buy environmentally produced coffee
Avoid eating threatened species (e.g. some fish species)
Avoid buying products that cause the damage or destruction of important habitats.