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Are you looking to learn about climate change? Each day, newspapers are flooded with unfortunate instances of global temperature rise, heat waves, natural disasters, glaciers melting, epidemics, pandemics, sea-level rise, and many more.
Such events are consequently occurring directly or indirectly as the negative effect on the earth’s climate system is suffering.
As it is said, “Change is the law of nature” Climate change is a reality, that has taken place in the past, is taking place in the present, and shall take place in the future as well.
However, the current pace of climate change has made it a significant threat to life on our planet and is a matter of concern for all the climate scientists and environmentalists of the world.
How? Let’s know it in detail.
What Is Climate Change?
The atmosphere of our planet Earth keeps transforming, leading to specific changes in the weather and climatic conditions.
These variations in the natural cycles in the climatic arena vary in their scale and magnitude, thereby resulting in the change of climatic types. The collaborative consequence of these changes altogether is what we call climate change.
Climate change takes place at different rates following the factors behind it. It can take place slowly or drastically, be limited to a region or globally, and have long-term or short-term impacts.
3 Main Causes
Climate change is grabbing its hold over the planet with a hazardous rope. Some primary causes are the foremost underlying reasons behind the strange events of climate change.
1. Emission Of Greenhouse Gases
Some gases act as a trapping blanket that traps heat and prevents them from escaping from the earth’s atmosphere. These gases are called greenhouse gases. The phenomenon of trapping heat and making the earth warmer is known as the greenhouse effect.
Carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons are the names of some greenhouse gases. The first three are naturally occurring gases, whereas the last one results from human activities.
The continuous rising emissions of these greenhouse gases are the main reason of climate change.
1. Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is one of the most prominent parts of our atmosphere and a powerful one among the other greenhouse gases. Some activities lead to an increase in the concentration of this greenhouse gas, namely carbon dioxide. These activities are:
- Natural causes of carbon dioxide emission- The natural processes of respiration and volcanic eruptions are the primary sources of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
- Man-made causes of carbon dioxide emission- Nature exploits activities like deforestation, burning fossil fuels, and changes in land-use patterns. Statistically, human activities have unfortunately contributed to increasing carbon dioxide by 48% since the Industrial Revolution.
The primary methane emission sources are activities like the decomposition of animal waste and biological matter, rice cultivation, ruminant digestion, and manure management.
Methane is more pro-active than carbon dioxide in playing the role of greenhouse gas and is also the most abundant greenhouse gas.
3. Nitrous Oxide
There are several practices of soil cultivation involving the use of fertilizers, activities like fossil fuel combustion, production of nitric acid, and biomass burning.
4. Chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs
Chlorofluorocarbons are chemical compounds such as chlorine, fluorine, and carbon. Combining these compounds in CFCs has a ruinous effect on the protective ozone layer, which shields the earth from the harmful UV rays in solar radiation.
Today, many commercially acclaimed products like refrigerators, air conditioners, aircraft halons, and aerosol sprays are chiefly responsible for enhancing the greenhouse effect.
2. Global Warming
The gradual and long-term warming of the average global temperature accounting for the earth’s surface, atmosphere, and oceans is known as global warming.
The global temperature started rising in the pre-industrial times. This global heating is mainly the result of some greenhouse gases emitted by human activity.
Human-induced global warming can be observed through the following changes in climate:
1. Extreme Weather Events
Several places, particularly in the United States and generally around the globe, are experiencing warmer summers exceeding expectations and winters cooler than average.
Along with these variations, there are also changes observed in the polar jet streams, changes in the formation of hurricanes, the concentration of high levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and various events of disasters, all destructive instances of extreme weather events.
2. Global Temperature Rise
Global rise in temperature is the most observable effect of global warming. Warmer temperatures than the normal climatic capacity can be observed at many places across the globe.
According to statistical data from the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change, the global temperature has shown a warming trend with an increase in the measure of 1 degree Celsius between 1880 and 2020
This escalation in global temperatures has many reasons at the forefront: the greenhouse effect and deforestation.
3. Melting Of Ice Sheets
The Arctic sea glaciers are melting at a pace faster than ever before. This glacial retreat is just one of the many instances portraying the gradual melting.
The melting of ice does not mean that ice is melting each day, but it simply means that the thickness of the ice sheets has been minimized compared to the last ice age.
4. Rise In Sea Level
When glaciers melt, they join the rivers, which blend with the ocean water. This phenomenon is what leads to the rise in sea level.
In 2014, the World Meteorological Organization presented data that mentioned the sea level rise by an average of 3 millimeters worldwide. This is a two-fold increase compared to the rising sea levels in the preceding century.
5. Ocean Acidification
Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, and with the moving times of industrialization, there is a rapid surge in the emission of carbon dioxide.
The ocean water also absorbs this carbon dioxide. As a result, the acidity of seawater increases.
How does it become acidic?
Scientifically speaking, when carbon dioxide dissolves in water, the chemical reaction results in the formation of carbonic acid. When the same chemical process occurs in ocean water, it is called ocean acidification.
Ocean acidification also has its roots in the carbon pollution in the water bodies, when untreated wastes with carbon content at the end of various industrial processes are discharged into rivers.
Another of the major causes is deforestation. Trees play a vital role in taking in carbon dioxide, but they are being cut tremendously. Forest cover is fundamental to maintaining balance in the ecosystem.
A to data from the year 2019, deforestation is chiefly responsible for around 11% of greenhouse gas emissions.
Deforestation has many underlying causes, the primary ones being for industrial purposes. They are:
- Agricultural expansion
- Livestock ranching
- Palm Oil Production
- Lumber Industry
Tackling Climate Change
The main causes are affecting the living conditions of the animals as well as plant species on the earth.
Here is a list of some ways to tackle global climate change
1. Increasing Green Cover Through Afforestation
Trees take up atmospheric carbon dioxide, and their presence matters the most when it comes to mitigating climate change, as the forest cover acts as a carbon sink.
Afforestation is the most simple, efficient, and cost-effective way of managing and improving the range of forest cover, which can help reduce carbon emissions by 25%.
2. Switching To Clean And Green Sources Of Energy
Clean and green sources of energy are renewable in nature. It is high time the world should shift to renewable sources of energy in order to fight the battle against climate change.
These energy sources pave the way for sustainable development, which is a principle concept in the present scenario of fast-growing economies.
Here are some clean and green alternatives for energy generation.
1. Solar Energy
Sun’s energy has a great potential to harness energy for thermal and electrical purposes. This pollution-free solar energy can be harnessed by technological aids, namely photovoltaic panels, solar heating, molten salt power plants, solar thermal collectors, and artificial photosynthesis.
The uses of energy coming from solar radiation can include heating water, heating engines, separating salt from seawater, solar ventilation, solar lighting, and solar cookers.
Interesting fact: Our planet Earth receives around 174 Petawatts of solar radiation in the upper atmosphere, 30% of which is reflected into space.
2. Wind Energy
Wind energy is another wonderful asset for renewable energy. Windmills are the most common source of accessing wind energy.
Wind energy produces electricity by harnessing the kinetic energy produced by moving air. With the help of turbines, this kinetic energy is converted into electrical energy.
It is a renewable and sustainable way of energy production and has adequate capacity to be used in place of burning fossil fuels.
Interesting facts: The origin of windmills dates back to 200 B.C., and the places where they marked their first presence were Persia and China.
3. Hydro Energy
To produce hydropower, the water flow of a water body, mainly a river, is altered by a dam or a diversion structure. This diverted water then comes under the scrutiny of a turbine, which converts the kinetic energy of flowing water into electrical energy.
Hydropower is an affordable form of energy that has applications in many fields apart from electricity generation. These applications are irrigational activities, flood control and management, and clean drinking water.
Interesting fact: Hydropower generation is one of the oldest ways of energy production. The first instances of its use were traced to Greece, where farmers used hydropower to grind grain.
4. Tidal Energy
Tidal energy is one of the least trapped renewable energy worldwide, despite its remarkable efficacy.
The cyclic movement of the seawater forms tides due to the gravitational effect of the moon and the sun on the Earth. This process is a continuous episode. Thus, Tidal energy can make a way forward to produce electricity with precision.
Interesting fact: The United Kingdom, an island nation, is the leading producer of tidal power as of 2021.
3. Need Of The Hour Is Global Cooperation
Climate change is not a region-specific, country-specific, or continent-specific issue. No matter where the activities led to the main causes, the whole planet faces the repercussions.
The immediate need of the hour is to cooperate globally and switch our approaches to sustainable ways of mitigating the main causes of climate change.
On a global level, more initiatives like the United Nations Framework Convention On Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol should be encouraged to maximize greater participation in conserving, improving, and sustaining the planet’s environmental health.
The planet we live on is our home. As we take care of our homes to be clean, safe and filled with vibes of positivity, why do we often fail to make this planet safe and healthy for each one of us?
In the blindfolded race of development, the answer is that we have forgotten to take care of all the natural assets of our planet Earth.
We are the main stakeholders in taking responsibility for our planet. If we would turn our backs on it, the cataclysmic results are to be faced by us only.
Plant a sapling in your garden, don’t use plastic bags the next time you go shopping, don’t waste food, electricity, and water, and use cycles or walk for short distances to save fuel in your vehicles.
These steps might seem meager, but ultimately they are enough to supplement your contribution to balancing and alleviating the main cause of climate change.
It’s our planet, and we are the ones who need to take care of it!