Climate Change | 7 Alarming Effects and the Major Causes Behind
Climate change refers to long-term alterations caused in a location’s temperature and regular weather patterns. It might relate to a specific area or the entire world.
It often refers to the rise in global temperatures from the mid – 20th century to the present.
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What has caused climate change?
The burden of having caused climate change cannot be dumped on one entity or reason solely. However, there are a few recurring instances we notice when studying the causes of climate change.
Some of these are:
- The combustion of fossil fuels such as petroleum, oil, and coal is the primary driver of climate change. When fossil fuels are used, they emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, causing the earth to warm.
- Human activities, notably the use of fossil fuels, have generated enough carbon dioxide and a substantial amount of other greenhouse gases during the previous 50 years to trap more heat in the lower atmosphere and impact global temperature.
- There is much more carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere presently than there has been in at least 2 million years. Carbon dioxide levels increased by 40% during the 20th and 21st centuries.
▶ Production of greenhouse gases:
Humans contribute to the production of greenhouse gases in a variety of ways, which have further been the causes of climate change. These ways of production include:
1. Deforestation –
Forests absorb and retain CO2 in the atmosphere. Because there are no trees to retain co2, chopping them down causes it to build up faster. Not just that, but even when we burn trees, we unleash the carbon they have accumulated.
2. Burning fossil fuels –
Fossil fuels like petroleum, oil, and coal hold carbon dioxide that has been “kept locked up” in the earth for millions of years. When we remove them from the land and ignite them, we release the carbon dioxide that has been trapped in the soil into the atmosphere.
3. Cement –
Cement production is another cause of climate change, accounting for 2% of the total emission of carbon dioxide.
4. Agriculture –
Cultivating crops and raising livestock emits a variety of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Animals, for instance, create methane, which in itself is 30 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than atmospheric co2. Nitrous oxide, which is used in fertilizers, is 10 times more toxic and approximately 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide!
▶ Natural causes:
The climate can fluctuate between heating up and cooling resulting from natural processes. Other natural forces cause climate change as well. These forces are referred to as ‘forcings.’ Even while such natural sources are causes of climate change, scientific data shows that they have not been the major reason. These natural cycles include:
1. El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) –
ENSO is a phenomenon of fluctuating Pacific Ocean water temperatures. The global temperature goes up during an ‘El Niño’ year and falls during a ‘La Niña’ year. These patterns can influence the earth’s temperature for a short time period (months or years), but they cannot define the current prolonged temperature increase.
2. Milankovitch cycles –
As Earth revolves around the sun, its course and axial tilt might shift somewhat. These variations, known as Milankovitch cycles, have an impact on the quantity of sunlight, which shines on Earth. The temperature of the Earth may fluctuate as a result of this. However, these cycles occur over hundreds or even thousands of years and thus, are implausible to be generating the climatic changes that we are witnessing now.
3. Volcanic eruptions –
Volcanoes have an unfavorable impact on our climate, and contribute to causes of climate change Volcanic eruptions release aerosol particles that cool the Earth, but they also emit carbon dioxide gas, which heats it. Volcanoes emit 50 times less carbon dioxide than people, indicating that they are not the primary driver of global warming. Furthermore, volcanic eruptions have a cooling impact rather than a warming effect.
4. Solar irradiance –
Fluctuating radiation from the sun has influenced Earth’s temperature in the past. However, we have not observed something significant enough to cause an alteration in our ecology. Any rise in global radiation would heat the whole Earth’s atmosphere, but we are still only observing warming in the lowest layer.
What is the proof that the climate has indeed changed?
Climate change is real, and its impacts are already being seen. The most prevalent and the biggest of these impacts are as follows:
◉◉ Effects on nature:
1. Adding to the effects of climate change, the earth has warmed by 0.85℃ during the past 130 years. Since 1850, each of the last three decades has been warmer than the previous decade. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) illustrated the difference between 1.5°C and 2°C of global warming in a recent study. However, unless we decrease emissions fast, the globe is expected to heat up by more than 2°C. Warming might reach 4°C, if not more, by the end of the 21st century.
2. Sea levels are increasing, glaciers are melting, and weather patterns are shifting. Extreme weather occurrences are intensifying and becoming more common. The oceans soak 90% of the additional heat produced by human activity. Water, on the other hand, expands to occupy greater volume as it warms up. As a result, whenever the oceans warm up, they extend, causing sea levels to rise.
Excess water is also pouring into the oceans from glaciers and ice sheets. The worldwide average sea level has risen by around 20 cm between 1901 and 2018. The carbon dioxide released by humans is absorbed by the oceans. This causes “ocean acidification”, which renders the oceans less alkaline and more acidic in nature. This increased acidic element of oceans can turn adversary for marine life, which is an equally important component of the food chain.
3. Some regions of the world, such as that of the north and south poles,warm faster than others. Ice sheets and glaciers at the poles absorb and reflect energy into space. As a result, less radiation from the sun is reflected away if there is little ice. The region then warms up much faster, melting more and more ice. Moreover, due to the melting of glaciers and ice sheets as causes of climate change, there is a release of freshwater into the sea.
Because of its non-salty nature, freshwater reduces or salinity of the water bodies, which in turn adversely impacts ocean currents. The ice in the Arctic is 65% thinner now than it was in 1975 – all thanks to climate change and global warming. Scientific researches suggest that if not curtailed soon enough, we could lose all the ice in the Arctic during summers, about forty years from now.
4. Climate change will raise the likelihood of a variety of issues all across the planet. Even though rich nations create the majority of greenhouse gas emissions, emerging countries are expected to bear the brunt of the adverse repercussions. Because underdeveloped nations have limited resources to adjust to such changes, the consequence on their people is likely to be greater.
5. Heatwaves are becoming more common as the planet heats, and the effects of climate change become more apparent. Heatwaves have been the worst worldwide weather danger in recent years.
◉◉ Effects on mankind:
1) As described above, global warming causes glaciers to melt. This causes the ice to flow into oceans as freshwater, which in turn increases sea levels. When sea levels are increased substantially and so rapidly, the chance of floods also increases. Flooding can cause serious damage to infrastructure and technology, which can further be a terrible experience and tiresome to restore.
2) Surveys have revealed that about 4 out of 10 people, i.e., 39% live within 100 km from a seashore, and are thus, at risk of floods if the sea level continues to rise. We might try to cut down on emissions, but it wouldn’t do much good. Sea levels would continue to rise till 2100. Although, if emissions are reduced enough, the rate of increase can be slowed down.
3) Furthermore, the effects of climate change can cause rainfall patterns to change. Thus, it may be more difficult to cultivate crops in some region of the world. As it is, the cultivation and harvesting of crops are dependent on seasonal factors more than anything.
In this case, climate change will begin to alter the time crops can be grown, and which all crops can be cultivated. Regions with lower temperatures will have an upper hand in this, as the are likely to be introduced to new crop patters, while the same cannot be said for hotter regions.
How can we curtail climate change?
We can take several steps at the solitary level, and watch those start up a movement at the community level. Most of these steps are particularly easy but can affect the quality of your life substantially. These are as follows:
(1) Cut down on meat and dairy. Meat and dairy, as in livestock, is an important element of our environment, and thus, cutting down or obliterating the use of their products can substantially contribute to the maintenance of the environment. Beside, consuming a high – fiber, plant-based diet anyway considered better for the human body.
(2) Opt for fresh and seasonal products, as you don’t need to store them for prolonged periods. This helps in better human health, as well as limits carbon emissions as a result of transportation, refrigeration, and prevention.
(3) Limit your airways’ travel to a bare minimum and switch to virtual means of conferencing instead. You can also alternatively, opt railways or travelling on the road by electric car.
(4) Try to walk or cycle more than you drive a car. Cars result in emissions of greenhouse gases. In traffic, the air pollution caused as a result of exhaust fumes results in serious risk for human life. If you at all, need to drive, ditch your diesel or petrol-fuelled car, and go for an electric car instead.
(5) Conserve energy. Being conscious about the electricity you consume not only contributes to limiting your expenditure on power but also helps in altering the carbon dioxide emissions in the environment as a bigger picture
What is the WWF doing to restore the climate?
As the first step to reverse recent trends and to restore the climate, we need to work towards limiting carbon emissions at a global level. The World Wild Fund for Nature or WWF collaborates with local communities and governments and undertakes the following to work towards climate restoration:
- Forests are protected. WWF works to guarantee that carbon emissions agreements decrease forest degradation and loss while also protecting biodiversity. They work from the ground level and aim to eliminate all causes of climate change They deal closely with governments, particularly poor countries, to conserve forests and improve local populations’ livelihoods.
- Influences political policies. WWF works to push policies that decrease carbon emissions, promote sustainable energy technology, prepare for the effects of climate change, and prevent deforestation. WWF works for the following causes:
- Reduce carbon emissions significantly to prevent the worst effects of climate change.
- Provide financial assistance to emerging nations so that people and the environment may adapt effectively.
- Combat forest degradation while also protecting the fauna that lives there.
- Assist poor nations in transitioning to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
- As a part of WWF’s Climate Savers Program, WWF collaborates with businesses to establish and fulfil carbon emission reduction objectives, promote initiatives to safeguard their resources from the adverse effects of climate change, and maintain the long-term viability of their core competency.
Despite the fact that people have caused significant damage to the climate and ecology, it is never too late to start over. We can reverse the harm we have caused, and play a significant role in safeguarding the existence of humanity on the face of the earth. We can save it from being obliterated in the not-too-distant future, i.e., before the apocalypse. If every person begins to contribute to the environment, we can be certain of our survival in the future.
We hope this article has given you a better understanding of climate change and its effects. It can be hard to wrap our heads around something so large and complex, but we must do. We need to take steps now to mitigate the damage we are doing to our planet.
In what ways do you think we can reduce our impact on the environment? Let us know in the comments below. And don’t forget to share this article with your friends and family – knowledge is power!
⫸ FAQs on Climate Change
Q: What is Climate Change?
A. Climate change refers to a broad array of environmental degradation that is predicted to result from increasing levels of atmospheric CO2, including global warming, alterations in precipitation, sea-level changes, and more extreme weather events.
Q: What are the major causes of Climate Change?
A. The major causes of climate change are emissions from human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, which release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Q: What is global warming?
A. Global warming is the gradual increase of the average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. It is caused by the increased levels of greenhouse gases that trap energy from the sun. This trapped energy makes the Earth’s atmosphere warm and disturbs the Earth’s climate.
Q: What will be the effects of Climate Change?
A. There will be several serious effects of climate change, including increased drought, more extreme weather events, food and water shortages, and mass extinctions.
Q: What can we do to stop Climate Change?
A. The main thing we can do to stop climate change is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by switching to clean energy sources and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.