How bad is climate change? One of the most frequently asked questions…
Pretty bad if you ask me.
I am going to start by explaining what climate change is. Climate change is often confused with global warming, so I would like to explain the difference.
Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. These shifts may be natural but from the 1800s due to human activities such as burning fossil fuels, this has been altered.
Global warming refers to the rise in global temperatures mainly due to the increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Who/what has caused climate change?
Humans are an amazing species but sometimes heartless when they create new things but destroy existing things along the way. We have advanced in many things throughout the years such as building factories to provide for the growing population, livestock farming, and cutting down trees for wood.
All these activities contribute to climate change, when fossil fuel is burnt in factories to make goods the gases released are called greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases occur naturally but the concentrations are increasing which causes imbalance. The greenhouse gases produced are carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide.
Deforestation- cutting down of trees.
Trees help to regulate the climate by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. When they are cut down, that beneficial effect is lost and the carbon stored in the trees is released into the atmosphere, adding to the greenhouse effect.
Increasing livestock farming
Cows and sheep produce large amounts of methane when they digest their food. Methane is a greenhouse gas.
What are the main threats?
The main threats of climate change are the rising temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere including rising sea levels, ecosystem collapse, and severe weather events.
Rising temperatures caused due to human activities affect plant-wide systems. For example in polar regions ice melts and causes sea levels to rise. It also affects ocean habitats by lowering oxygen, killing coral reefs, and killing many little plants, therefore, tampering with the food chain.
The warming of the atmosphere affects weather patterns, causing more frequent and severe storms and droughts around the world. Higher temperatures are affecting seasons and in some places, temperatures are already crossing safe levels for ecosystems and humans.
All of these impacts, and many, many others will become more severe if we don’t act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
What are renewable energy and its benefits?
Renewable energy is energy that can always be replenished and never runs out.
To avoid the worst impacts of global warming, we must globally achieve net-zero carbon emissions no later than 2050. To do this, we must immediately find pathways to reduce carbon emissions from all sectors: transportation, electricity, and industry.
Clean energy and technological innovation are not only helping reduce climate change but are also creating jobs and supporting economic growth in communities across the world.
Renewable energy such as solar and wind are being increasingly popular in newly built buildings and households. Although they were very expensive in the past they are price matching with fossil fuels.
Is it impossible to stop climate change?
No, we know what causes it and what to do to stop it. It will take more time and action rather than talking.
Reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 is a goal that requires a lot of work and perseverance. We don’t have a lot of time, but if we are prepared to act now, and act together, we can reduce the rate of global warming, and prevent the worst impacts of climate change from coming to pass.
What is more, we have a better environment and economy to live in with cleaner air, water, and new job opportunities.
What happens if we take no action?
The planet is likely to see global temperatures rise by 2-4 °C by the end of the century. This type of warming could lead to catastrophic melting of the ice sheets in the polar regions, causing sea level rise that would flood most major global coastal cities.
The wildlife and their habitat will be destroyed, leading to the extinction of species. Superstorms, drought, and heatwaves would become increasingly common and more extreme, leading to major health crises.
Agricultural production would drop, likely leading to global food shortages and famine. Water supplies would disappear around the world, making some regions nearly inhabitable.
What can you do to help?
Well, we can all do simple things like cycling or walking to nearby places instead of travelling in a car, using public transportation instead, reducing energy bills by simply switching off a light when you leave a room, bringing your bag to shopping instead of buying a plastic bag and reduce the amount of food waste as when food waste ends up in landfill it produces methane or make homemade compost.