Climate change - undoubtedly one of the most dangerous and urgent dilemmas that our planet is facing. But the world isn’t doing enough to try and solve it! Every year the problem gets worse: CO2 emissions are at the highest in 650,000 years, ice sheets are melting across the globe, and nine of the ten warmest years on record have occurred since 2000. But what is Climate Change and why should we care?
First of all what is the difference between Global Warming and Climate Change? Although they are very similar, they have a distinct difference. Global warming refers to the upward trend in temperature since the early 20th century. On the other hand, Climate Change covers a broader range of global phenomena, mainly caused by the burning of fossil fuels, which add greenhouse gases to the Earth’s atmosphere. It also includes changes like the melting of ice caps, rising sea level, and extreme weather events.
Although climate change is usually a natural process on Earth, increasing human activity over the past few centuries has dramatically and alarmingly accelerated the rate at which it takes place. The main cause of climate change is the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, which releases CO2 gases. This raises the temperature on Earth, which in turn can cause many side effects, including the melting of polar ice caps, and droughts. Under these normal circumstances, this is would be harmless as most of the atmosphere is made up of CO2 which traps heat and keeps the Earth at livable temperature. However, because of the sheer amount of CO2 which we are adding, the layer keeps on building up, resulting in more heat being trapped.
Now at first this seems like a great thing - surely hotter temperatures in the UK is a amazing? In fact, just an increase of a few degrees could be catastrophic for the world. As stated by the Intergovernmental Panel - “Taken as a whole, the range of published evidence indicates that the net damage costs of climate change are likely to be significant and to increase over time.” Some of the detrimental consequences include the melting of the polar ice caps, resulting in sea levels risings. In turn, this would flood many low lying areas and destroy valuable freshwater sources.
Another major effect of global warming is famine. It is estimated that for every 1o Celsius in global temperature, food production for the world’s major grain crops (corn, soybean, rice and wheat) will decrease by 10%. With most experts predicting a temperature increase of 30 - 50 , that’s as much as 50% less production of these vital crops. Most of these estimates don’t even take into account that higher temperatures means better living conditions for pests, even where it is too cold for them to survive right now. With around 1 in 9 people around the world currently being undernourished, the world could be facing a major crisis.
Climate change is undoubtedly a massive problem facing mankind, but it is not unsolvable. With the development of more energy efficient products, cleaner energy sources, and higher awareness, climate change can be stopped. Even if some of the damage is already done, we need to make sure that we don’t cause any more, and no one country can do this, It is imperative that the world comes together and solves this issue before it is too late!