“Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity, and it is the world’s most vulnerable populations who are most immediately at risk. The actions of the wealthiest nations-those generating the vast majority of greenhouse gases-have tangible consequences for people in the rest of the world, especially in the poorest nations.”
(Michel R. Bloomberg)
Climate Change is a critical issue of our time and we are at a defining moment. But what exactly is climate change, you may ask? ‘Climate change’ means a significant change in the measures of climate, such as temperature, rainfall, or wind, lasting for an extended period of time. Earth’s climate is always changing. There have been times when the Earth’s climate was much warmer than it is now and there have been times where it has been much cooler. The earth was once as hot as 3,600° Fahrenheit, but that was before there was life on Earth. Now, temperatures are much more habitable. Earth’s temperature has gone up about 1° Fahrenheit in the last 100 years. This may not seem like much, but these seemingly insignificant small changes in the Earth’s temperature can have devastatingly drastic effects.
We are already undergoing the effects of climate change. Warming of Earth’s climate has caused snow and ice to melt and oceans to rise. By observing and studying past climate change patterns, these changes threaten food production, the rising sea levels increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, resulting directly in the loss of life and property. The impacts of climate change are global and unprecedented.
Polar bears are the ideal example for the impacts of climate change on species. They rely deeply on the sea ice environment for traveling, hunting, mating, resting, and in some areas, maternal dens. Moreover, their extensive generation time and low reproductive rate may limit their ability to adapt to changes in the environment. Their dependency on sea ice makes them highly vulnerable to a changing climate. To date, global warming has been most noticeable in the Arctic, and this trend is expected to continue. There are predictions that before mid-century we could have a nearly ice-free Arctic in the summer.
There are two factors that contribute in speeding up climate change; natural and anthropogenic (human-induced). Many things can cause our climate to change on its own without any interference from us. The Earths distance from the sun could change. The sun could send out more or less energy. Ocean levels can change. Volcanoes can erupt, adding to harmful gasses in our climate.
However, what’s different about this period of Earths history is that human activities are speeding up natural climate change. The biggest contributor is our emissions of greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases occur naturally and are essential to the survival of living things (humans, animals, plants and other organisms). The greenhouse effect helps to maintain a certain temperature level on Earth’s surface, by keeping some of the sun’s warmth from reflecting back into space, making Earth liveable.
We drive cars. We heat and cool our houses. We cook food. All those things take energy which we get by burning coal, oil and gas. Burning these things puts harmful gases into the air. The gases cause the air to heat up. This can indirectly change Earth’s climate.
As populations, economies and standards of living continue to grow, so does the cumulative level of greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions. After a century of industrialization, deforestation, and large-scale agriculture farming, the quantities of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have risen extraordinarily. The concentration of GHGs has been rising steadily since the Industrial Revolution and it has been increasing global temperatures along with it.
Given the existing concentrations and ongoing emissions of greenhouse gases, it is probable that by the end of this century, the global mean temperature will continue to rise above the pre-industrial level. The world’s oceans will warm and ice melting will continue. It may be possible that important tipping points may already have been reached or passed, leading to irreversible changes in major ecosystems and the planetary climate system. Ecosystems such as the Amazon rainforest and the Arctic tundra may be approaching thresholds of variation through warming and drying. Mountain glaciers are in dismaying retreat and the downstream effects of reduced water supply in the driest months will have effects that transcend generations. Most aspects of climate change will continue to persist for many centuries, even if emissions are stopped.
In the light of preceding discussion, it can be safely concluded that climate change is indubitably a real existential threat to the world. It threatens the survival of the human race thus, increasing the urgency with which we must act to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to delay or avoid some of the worst consequences of climate change. If immediate action is not taken to combat it, its consequences would be quite catastrophic. This global geological mayhem is not only a matter of our survival but also of our posterity. Without drastic action today, adapting to these impacts in the future will be even more difficult and costly. Hence, we must act together to meet this forthcoming challenge effectively.
What Can You Do to Help?
You can make a difference by:
• Use water sparingly
• Turn off lights and TVs when you leave a room – Preserve Energy
• Plant trees
• Reduce, Recycle, and Reuse
• Buy energy-efficient products
• Switch to electric vehicles
• Support renewable energy
Another way to help is by learning about the Earth. There are many platforms you can utilize, whether you use word of mouth or social media, that can allow us to spread our message easily about the dangers of climate change and how to act against it. The more you know about Earth, the more you can help in solving climate problems.
• “What Is Climate Change?”. 2021. NASA. https://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/k-4/stories/nasa-knows/what-is-climate-change-k4.html.
• “Polar Bears And Climate Change | Pages | WWF”. 2021. World Wildlife Fund. https://www.worldwildlife.org/pages/polar-bears-and-climate-change.
• “Effects Of Climate Change | Threats | WWF”. 2021. World Wildlife Fund. https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/effects-of-climate-change.
• Nations, United. 2021. “The Greatest Threat To Global Security: Climate Change Is Not Merely An Environmental Problem | United Nations”. United Nations. https://www.un.org/en/chronicle/article/greatest-threat-global-security-climate-change-not-merely-environmental-problem.
• “Climate Change: A Serious Threat To The World And Pakistan – Daily Times”. 2021. Daily Times. https://dailytimes.com.pk/491675/climate-change-a-serious-threat-to-the-world-and-pakistan/.
• “6 Things You Can Do To Prevent Climate Change”. 2021. Activesustainability.Com. https://www.activesustainability.com/climate-change/6-things-you-can-do-to-prevent-climate-change/.
• “What Are The Advantages Or Disadvantages Of The Greenhouse Effect?”. 2021. Medium. https://medium.com/@mariamith22/what-are-the-advantages-or-disadvantages-of-the-greenhouse-effect-ba6feb97169d#:~:text=The%20greenhouse%20effect%20helps%20to%20maintain%20a%20certain,the%20earth%20is%20warm%20enough%20to%20sustain%20life.
• “25 Wonderful Ways To Reduce Greenhouse Gases”. 2021. Conserve Energy Future. https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/15-wonderful-ways-reduce-greenhouse-gases.php.
• Čirjak, Antonia, 10 Change, All Continents, North America, Central America, and South America. 2021. “10 Ways We Can Help Slow Down Climate Change”. Worldatlas. https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/10-ways-we-can-help-slow-down-climate-change.html.
• “Climate Change”. 2021. Un.Org. https://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/climate-change/.