We’ve all heard of global warming, but how many of us are properly informed about climate change?
Climate change takes place when long-term weather patterns shift. In the past, examples of this, such as the end of the ice age, were a result of tiny changes in the Earth’s orbit which would alter the amount of solar energy received by the planet.
Why should you care about this?
Because at present, climate change has manifested through global warming that is increasing at an unprecedented rate – and there is a more than 95% probability that most of it has been caused by human activity.
Only 1 out of every 100 scientists rejects the consensus on human-caused global warming. Those who do are often found to have been paid off by multinational corporations whose profits would suffer from the restrictions that would be placed if governments took an environmentally sustainable approach to policy. Those in power who support such claims often have similar corporate interests (for example, the current President of the United States).
The evidence for climate change is overwhelming.
The planet’s average surface temperature has increased by 1.1 degrees Celsius since the late 1800s. While this may seem small, it is important to keep in mind that if the earth’s temperature continues to rise, it may eventually become too hot for humans to survive.
The oceans have absorbed a lot of this increased heat, ice sheets have shrunk, glaciers are retreating, sea levels have risen and there have been extreme weather events, such as multiple record high temperatures and snow in Britain during the summer last year.
These changes have led to effects on living beings as well, including crippling biannual droughts leading to famine in Somaliland, polar bears starving to death due to the rapid melting of the sea ice that is essential for their hunting, heat waves, stronger and more intense hurricanes, severe smog in China and India, alongside many other effects.
What’s causing this climate change?
The main cause for global warming is human expansion of the greenhouse effect. When sunlight passes through the atmosphere and warms the earth’s surface, the heat is radiated back toward space. Greenhouse gas molecules absorb and re-emit most of the outgoing heat, warming the surface of the Earth and the lower atmosphere to 15 degrees Celsius, which is optimal for life.
However, human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and livestock farming have increased greenhouse gas emissions, causing a rise in their concentration, which means that the Earth is warmed far more than it should be.
So how can we reduce climate change?
Ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions include:
- The adoption of renewable energy sources like solar or wind power to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
- Pushing for the enforcement of a carbon tax that would limit carbon emissions.
- Eating less beef, since cows emit methane and massive areas are deforested to make room for livestock farming.
- Reforestation and afforestation.
- Energy efficiency.
If we continue making decisions that contribute to climate change, our future will be very bleak. But we are still at a point where we can make conscious efforts, even on an individual basis, to help mitigate it. Let’s begin now, before it’s too late.
If you are interested in learning more, watch Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentary about climate change, Before the Flood, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEqBduQIx-Q