Often spoken of as the crisis of our time, the concept of climate change has been around for quite a while. The earliest mention of climate change dates back to the nineteenth century, when Svante Arrhenius, the pioneering Swedish scientist estimated the scope of warming from widespread coal burning. However, it was only around thirty years ago that the potentially disruptive impact of climate change became front-page news.
Essay on Climate Change
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defines climate change as “A change in the state of the climate that can be identified (e.g using statistical tests) by changes in mean and/or the variability of its properties and that persists for an extended period, typically, decades or longer.”
In simple terms, Climate change is the global phenomenon of climate transformation characterized by the changes in the usual climate of the planet (regarding temperature, precipitation, and wind) that are especially caused by human activities.
Unarguably, the main cause of climate change is global warming which is in turn caused by the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is a natural process by which the atmosphere retains some of the Sun’s heat, allowing the survival of humans and millions of other living organisms.
Water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and other fluorinated gases form a blanket around the Earth which acts a bit like the glass in a greenhouse, trapping the sun’s heat and stopping it from leaking back into space. Although life on earth is not possible without greenhouse gases, with industrialization, deforestation, and large scale agriculture in progress, their quantities in the atmosphere have risen beyond what’s normal.
The emission of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere began to soar since the Industrial Revolution began in the eighteenth century. Then onward, our planet entered a new geological era termed as the Anthropocene period, which is characterized by various human impacts on the earth.
Since this period began, the global temperature of the earth has risen 1.1°C. It’s very intimidating to know that if this rate of increasing temperature continues, the temperature will have risen by around 4-4.5℃ by the end of this century and it, in turn, will also change the precipitation patterns.
Although it might not sound like a relatively big rise in temperature, it can bring changes that can affect our water supplies, agriculture, power and transportation systems, the natural environment, and ultimately our health and safety. Although we aren’t completely helpless about this global crisis, some climate changes are unavoidable and nothing can be done about it. Carbon dioxide is proven to stay in the atmosphere for nearly a century, so Earth will continue to warm in the future despite our efforts.
The disastrous consequences of the global rise in temperature endanger the survival of the Earth’s flora and fauna. One of the worst impacts of climate change includes the melting of solar ice caps and glaciers which results in the rise of sea level eventually threatening coastal environments. If no action is taken, entire districts of New York, Shanghai, Abu Dhabi, Osaka, Rio de Janeiro, and many other cities could find themselves underwater within our lifetimes, displacing millions of people.
Food and water security are bound to be impacted far more than today. The amount of carbon the earth can contain is being limited by Climate change resulting in soil degradation. Meanwhile, crops that have thrived for centuries are now struggling to survive in many regions. The effect of climate change is likely to heighten competition for resources like land, food, and water, which will consequently fuel socioeconomic tensions. This can prove to be a major threat to international peace and security.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the negative repercussions of climate change and the delay in bringing effective climate actions will soon make the goals of sustainable development an impossible feat to achieve. Be it, providing quality education or reducing inequalities, the baleful changes in the environment will slow down the pace of development works.
Yes, science tells us that climate change is irrefutable, but it also tells us that we are far from powerless in the face of this global threat. We need to determine what can be done to mitigate or eliminate these changes. We need to change our way of life such that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions are reduced. However, we should make arrangements to adapt to the coming climate change because some additional warming is unavoidable despite all our efforts.
A multitude of plans and strategies have been developed, many of which are considered risky and unproven. So it is important to understand that controlling global warming is a huge and difficult problem that a single strategy can’t solve. While technology has contributed to climate change, new and efficient technologies could help create a cleaner, emission-free world.
Looking on a bright side, for more than 70% of today’s emissions, readily available technological solutions already exist. In many places, renewable sources of energy are now the cheapest energy source and electric vehicles are anticipated to become mainstream.
Let’s not let despair wash over us because scalable new technologies and nature-based solutions will enable us all to leapfrog to a cleaner, more resilient world. These nature-based solutions which include improved agricultural practices, land restoration, conservation, and the greening of food supply chains allow us to mitigate a portion of our carbon footprint. Correspondingly, they also support vital ecosystem services, biodiversity, access to fresh water, improved livelihoods, healthy diets, and food security.
However, humans must adapt to climate change. As it’s known, the climate of Earth has been fluctuating throughout its history. Though human activity is the main cause of global warming, natural phenomena like solar and volcanic activities also contribute to it.
Climate change is inescapable because of the emissions that have already been expended into the atmosphere, even if all greenhouse gas emissions were stopped today. For this reason, we should create disaster relief plans and adopt policies to prepare for these expected changes.
With all the information out there, it is clear that climate change is real and there are no two ways about it. Not just in a particular area, but on a global scale. We have to deal with it instantly because it is happening even more quickly than we feared. As Scientist and activist, Dr Jane Goodall says, “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
If governments, businesses, and general people work together, we can create a green future where suffering is diminished, justice is upheld, and harmony is restored between people and our mother earth.