What Is Climate Change and How Does It Affect Us?
Climate change characterizes as a significant change in average weather conditions over several decades or more. Such as circumstances becoming warmer, wetter, or drier. Climate change distinguished from natural weather fluctuation by its longer-term trend.
Flooding on a massive scale. Storms are raging. The heat is unbearable. Climate change presents itself in a variety of ways and affects all living things, though not equally. Those who have contributed the least to the core causes of climate change. The economically disadvantaged and people of color—are the most likely to affect by its worst effects around the world. Here are the fundamentals of climate change: what causes it, how it affects the earth and its inhabitants, and what we can do about it.
What Are the Different Ways to Measure Climate Change Over Time?
Climate refers to a location’s overall weather conditions over a long time. Maine, for example, has a chilly and snowy winter climate, whereas South Florida has a balmy environment all year.
Present-day weather and climate are monitored by earth-orbiting satellites, remote meteorological stations, and ocean buoys. But paleoclimatology data from natural sources such as ice cores, tree rings, corals. And ocean and lake sediments have allowed scientists to extend the earth’s climatic records back millions of years. These data give us a comprehensive picture of the earth’s atmosphere, oceans, land surfaces, and cryosphere over time (frozen water systems). Scientists then input this information into sophisticated climate models, which can accurately anticipate future climate patterns.
While the terms climate change and global warming are sometimes used interchangeably. Global warming—the recent increase in the global average temperature near the earth’s surface—is only one facet of climate change.
What Factors Influence Climate Change?
The earth’s climate system has simple mechanics. The globe cools when energy from the sun reflects off the earth and back into space (primarily by clouds and ice), or when the energy released from the earth’s atmosphere. The globe warms when it absorbs the sun’s energy or when atmospheric gases prevent the earth’s heat from radiating into space (the greenhouse effect). The earth’s climate system can influence by a range of natural and human influences.
Climate change has natural causes.
Long before humans arrived on the scene, the globe experienced periods of warming and cooling. The sun’s intensity, volcanic eruptions, and variations in naturally existing greenhouse gas concentrations are all factors that can contribute to climate change. However, data show that today’s climate warming—particularly that which has occurred since the mid-20th century—is occurring at a far faster rate than in the past and that it cannot explain solely by natural processes. “These natural factors are still at work now,” NASA says, “but their impact is too modest or they occur too slowly to explain the fast warming witnessed in recent decades.”
Climate change by human activity.
Humans, primarily the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced by human activities, are the primary cause of today’s rapidly changing climate. Greenhouse gases are vital in keeping the world warm enough for humans to live on. However, in recent decades, the number of these gases in our atmosphere has increased dramatically. The current levels of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, are “unprecedented in comparison to the preceding 800,000 years.” Indeed, since preindustrial times, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by 46 percent, making it the planet’s primary contributor to climate change.
A smoke-belching plant on the water’s edge
The primary source of human-generated emissions is the combustion of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas for electricity, heat, and transportation. Deforestation is a second big source, as it releases sequestered (or stored) carbon into the atmosphere. Logging, clearcutting, fires, and other kinds of forest degradation are thought to emit an average of 8.1 billion metric tons of CO2 each year. Accounting for more than 20% of all CO2 emissions worldwide. Fertilizer use (a major source of nitrous oxide emissions), livestock raising (cattle, buffalo, sheep, and goats are important methane emitters). And some industrial processes that create fluorinated gases are all examples of human activities that pollute the air. Agriculture and road building, for example, can alter the reflectance of the earth’s surface, resulting in local warming or cooling.
Even though our planet’s woods and seas absorb greenhouse gases from the atmosphere through photosynthesis and other processes. They are unable to keep up with our escalating emissions. As a result of the buildup of greenhouse gases, the earth is warming at an alarmingly rapid rate. During the twentieth century, the earth’s average temperature rose by around 1 degree Fahrenheit. If you don’t think that’s a lot, consider this: Average temperatures were just 5 to 9 degrees cooler than they are now when the last ice age ended and the northeastern United States was buried by more than 3,000 feet of ice.
Global Climate Change’s Consequences
Failure to curb and adapt to climate change is “the most significant” danger confronting communities globally. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2021. Surpassing even weapons of mass destruction and water problems. Its cascading repercussions are to blame: Climate change affects everything from where we live to the water we drink to the air we breathe as global ecosystems shift.
And, while climate change affects everyone in some way. It’s undeniable that certain groups bear the brunt of its negative consequences disproportionately: women, children, people of color, Indigenous peoples, and the economically disadvantaged. Climate change is a matter of human rights.
As the earth’s atmosphere warms, more water is collected, retained, and dropped, causing weather patterns to shift and making wet places wetter and dry ones drier. Many sorts of disasters, such as storms, floods, heatwaves, and droughts, are exacerbated and become more frequent as temperatures rise. These catastrophes can have disastrous and costly repercussions. Putting people’s access to safe drinking water in jeopardy, fueling out-of-control wildfires, destroying property, causing hazardous-material spills, polluting the air, and even causing death.
Climate change and air pollution are intricately intertwined, with one increasing the other. When the earth’s temperatures rise, not only does our air get dirtier—with smog and soot levels rising in lockstep. But it also becomes more allergic, with circulating mold (due to wet conditions from harsh weather and more floods) and pollen (due to longer, stronger pollen seasons).
Between 2030 and 2050, “climate change is anticipated to cause around 250,000 more fatalities each year,” according to the World Health Organization.
The number of deaths and illnesses caused by heat stress, heatstroke, and cardiovascular and kidney disease increases as global temperatures rise.
As air pollution worsens, so does respiratory health—especially for the 300 million people globally who suffer from asthma; there’s also more pollen and mold in the air to aggravate hay fever and allergy patients. Extreme weather occurrences such as heavy storms and flooding can result in injuries, contaminated drinking water, and storm damage. Which might jeopardize essential infrastructure or cause population displacement. Indeed, historical models imply that the likelihood of being relocated by a disaster is currently 60% higher than it was four decades ago. With weather and climate-related events driving the highest increases in displacement. (It’s worth mentioning that displacement has its own set of health risks, including increased urban crowding, trauma, social unrest, a shortage of safe drinking water, and the spread of infectious diseases.) Insect-borne diseases like dengue fever, West Nile virus, and Lyme disease benefit from a warmer, wetter planet.
Sea levels are rising.
The Arctic is warming twice as quickly as the rest of the world. Our oceans are on course to rise anywhere from 0.95 to 3.61 feet by the end of the century as the world’s ice sheets melt into the seas. Endangering coastal ecosystems and low-lying areas. Island nations, as well as some of the world’s major cities, such as New York City, Miami, Mumbai, India, and Sydney, Australia, are particularly vulnerable.
Oceans that are warmer and more acidic
The seas absorb one-quarter to one-third of our fossil fuel emissions. And they are currently 30% more acidic than they were before the Industrial Revolution. Underwater life, particularly animals with calcified shells or skeletons like oysters, clams, and coral, is at risk from acidification. It has the potential to be disastrous to shellfisheries. As well as the fish, birds, and animals that rely on shellfish for food. This impact extends to human populations in coastal towns where fishing and seafood production support the local economy. Eroding livelihoods and putting communities at risk of economic disaster. Rising ocean temperatures are also affecting the distribution and population of underwater animals. As well as contributing to coral bleaching events that have the potential to wipe out entire reef ecosystems. Ecosystems that support more than 25% of all marine life.
Ecosystems in jeopardy
Climate change is putting more pressure on species to adapt quickly to changing habitats. Many species are migrating to cooler temperatures and higher elevations, changing their seasonal activities and changing their migration patterns.
These changes have the potential to drastically alter entire ecosystems as well as the intricate webs of life that rely on them. As a result, one-third of all animal and plant species could become extinct by 2070, according to 2020 research.
Another study found that mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, and other vertebrate species are vanishing at a rate several times quicker than they should a phenomenon linked to climate change, pollution, and deforestation, all of which are interconnected concerns
Climate and biodiversity specialists released a joint report in early 2021, demonstrating these relationships and demanding action on both fronts at the same time, On the other hand, milder winters and longer summers have aided the survival of some species, such as tree-killing insects that are threatening entire forests.
Facts about Climate Change
Despite what climate deniers and fossil fuel apologists claim—for example, that global warming science is “far from settled”—there is nothing to debate: Climate change is a fact of life. “Warming of the climate system is unmistakable, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented across decades to millennia,” according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the foremost worldwide scientific group for the assessment of the issue. The atmosphere and oceans have warmed, snow and ice levels have decreased, and sea levels have increased.”
And 2020, the first year of the new decade tied with 2016 as the warmest year on record. Increased heat has, of course, resulted in more frequent and severe weather-related calamities. In the first half of 2021, the western United States and Canada experienced record heat, dryness, and wildfires. While Europe had record rainfall and flooding. These records won’t stand for long if nothing is done about climate change: they’ll break next year or shortly thereafter. “The science is clear,” argues NRDC scientist Vijay Limaye. “Each year that we fail to reduce the pollution that is undermining our world, the dangerous repercussions of climate change will intensify.”
We must take responsibility for reversing this alarming trend. At least 97 percent of climate scientists who regularly publish agree that people are the primary drivers of climate change. “Likely, more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was driven by the anthropogenic increase in GHG concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together,” the IPCC stated with the highest degree of confidence.
Solutions to Climate Change
We can contribute to preventing global climate change and its negative consequences. But doing so will necessitate addressing its core cause: pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels.
Technological advancements in the field of clean energy
Every year, remarkable advancements in the production and distribution of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. Which are becoming increasingly cheaper to produce and more popular among consumers, businesses, utilities, and governments are announced.
Simultaneously, carmakers all over the world are attempting to develop new battery technologies. That will allow hundreds of millions of gas-powered automobiles to replace by zero-emission vehicles. Smart, forward-thinking public policy, such as Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, should encourage these trends by linking the post-pandemic economic recovery in the United States to projects that will curb climate change. While also putting tens of millions of unemployed or underemployed people to work in good-paying jobs.
Domestic climate action
Combating global climate change is a Herculean undertaking that requires worldwide cooperation as well as the efforts of towns, businesses, and individuals. To that end, many states, from California to Iowa, are championing clean energy industries like solar and wind; U.S. cities are taking action to mitigate climate change and bolster climate resilience while putting equity first; and corporations, including some of the world’s largest multinationals, are pledging to change the way they do business by 2040 to achieve net-zero emissions.
You can also help in a variety of ways. You can join, amplify, or otherwise support the international youth climate movement. Which has emerged in recent years as a galvanized response to government inaction; this movement is letting leaders know that delaying climate action will no longer tolerate in rallies and marches around the world. You can also call Congress to express your support for important environmental measures such as renewable energy projects and fuel and energy efficiency. Which will not only reduce individual carbon emissions but also promote clean alternatives to polluting fossil fuels. We must all take action now.