Climate Change BY KINNAN WONG

Part 1

Although often overlooked and disregarded as important, climate change remains a serious topic with dire consequences if it continues to be left unchecked. Climate change has the potential to negatively affect future generations of people as well as all life on Earth if it is not dealt with appropriately. According to Preparing for a Changing Climate "rising levels of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere have warmed the Earth and are causing wide-ranging impacts." These impacts which vary in severity are caused by climate change.

Global Warming

Scientists agree that one of the key contributors to climate change is "'the greenhouse effect'"-- atmospheric warming that results when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space." The greenhouse effect essentially keeps the Earth warm with room to grow even warmer.

The greenhouse effect is mainly caused by several "greenhouse gases," which include water vapor, nitrous oxide, methane, and carbon dioxide. All of the greenhouse gases, except water vapor, are created by human activities.

According to this graph, greenhouse gases maintained a steady incline from 0 CE to the mid-1900s, but drastically increased, almost quadrupling from the 20th century up until the 2000s. Carbon Dioxide increased nearly 1600 ppb (parts per billion), Nitrous Oxide nearly 1000 ppb, and Methane nearly 1800 in 150 years.

The average temperature in the US skyrocketed by almost 3 degrees in only one year and is still continuing to rise.

October 2016 was the second hottest month in recorded history with global temperatures 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the average forty years ago.

Human Activity

"There is more than a 95 percent probability that human activities over the past 50 years have warmed our planet."

Thirty-one percent of carbon dioxide emissions come from the burning of fossil fuels through transportation (e.g. Buses, cars, etc.). Thirty-seven percent of emissions come from electricity use. Fifteen percent come from industrial production in factories.

Modern civilization has seen an increase in carbon dioxide levels from 280 parts per million to nearly 400 in less than 200 years.

Solar Irradiance

Solar Irradiance is the amount of solar energy that human beings can see. For this reason, less solar irradiance can factor into colder global temperatures. Likewise, more solar irradiance can cause higher global temperatures.

Part 2

Side Effects of Climate Change

Global climate change has already brought about some visible problems that alter the world. Rising sea levels, stronger hurricanes, and increasing droughts are just a few of the many challenges climate change creates.

Droughts and extreme heat waves are predicted to be stronger, while less and less cold waves will occur. By the second half of the 21st century, extreme heat days which only occur every twenty years will occur every two years.

Global warming has sped up the rapid rise of sea levels. The increasing loss of Arctic sea ice has contributed to rising sea temperatures. Sea levels have risen 1.77 millimeters per year up until 2009, and 3.3 millimeters up to today. As sea levels rise, the chance for stronger natural disasters like tropical storms and hurricanes grows.

Sea levels have risen a staggering 81.22 millimeters only twenty years.

The average global sea surface temperature has risen seven tenths of a degree Fahrenheit above average in just twenty-five years. Although a seemingly insignificant number, seven tenths can drastically change the frequency of rising sea levels and tropical storms.

"Category 4 and 5 storms accounted for 6% of US landfalls, but 48% of all damage...by 2100, the overall destructive potential of hurricanes may increase by 30%."

Hurricanes form over warm water when warm air rises and higher pressure creates a swirling system of clouds and wind.

With rising sea levels, ice melting, and shifting rain patterns comes an increased chance for more frequent and intense hurricanes. Water temperatures are rising, and this warmer water creates the perfect conditions for a hurricane to form.

Combating Climate Change

Reducing the amount of greenhouse gases can slow down climate change significantly.

One way to reduce greenhouse gases is to turn to renewable energy such as wind, solar, and heat.

"By 2025, a 25% electricity standard could lower carbon dioxide emissions by 277 million metric tons annually."

"By investing in energy technology, greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by 430 million metric tons annually by 2050."

Electricity significantly reduces the carbon dioxide emissions produced by using fuel. Burning fossil fuels releases 170-366 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer, while electric energy releases 79-259 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer. Electric energy generated through solar power releases only 79 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer, far lower than fossil fuel.

Climate negotiations can set guidelines for countries on reducing climate-change-causing actions. Recently in 2015, world leaders met at the 2015 Paris Climate summit (COP21). The goal set during the summit was to reduce the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius and reduce greenhouse gases to zero by 2030.

Delegates from 195 participating states and countries ratified the Paris Agreement which aimed to hold the increasing global temperature under 2 degrees Celsius, improve the ability to negate the negative impacts from climate change, and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Part 3: Sudan

Sudan is Africa's largest country covering 2.5 million square kilometers. It is mainly dry, arid land and desert. It shares water with twelve other countries and receives approximately 10 inches of rainfall annually. Rainfall has been on a gradual decline of 0.5% per year for the past six decades, increasing the chance for droughts. Several years of droughts in the 1980's displaced millions of people. In addition to the drought, highly concentrated storms have created several severe floods over the past seventy years, and dust storms and heat waves also pose a threat to Sudan's population.

Climate change has definitely effected Sudan's climate, but it also creates vulnerability and instability in its economy and government.

Severe drought creates famine and conflict can ensue over scarce natural resources. Food shortages and diminishing resources force many people to seek refuge in urban centers, putting economic strain on these centers and weakening its stability and security.

Poverty contributes to the instability that can come from droughts and other effects of climate change. Sudan ranks among the poorest countries in the world. If conflicts were to occur after a long period of drought or famine, the poorest in Sudan would be the first to head to urban centers to have shelter and food. Food shortages would grow increasingly low, increasing the chance of conflicts. A country with war, drought, famine, and little money would not be able to recover.

"One in two people living in Sudan is impacted by poverty."

Climate Change and Its Impact

"Models show that the average rainfall is expected to decrease about 6mm/month (5%) during the rainy season."

Annual temperatures are expected to increase from one to three degrees Celsius by 2060. Together with decreasing rainfall, rising temperatures will have a negative impact on Sudan's agriculture, water resources, and health.

"At some point in this century, part of [Sudan's] region will become uninhabitable."

Credits:

Created with images by andreas160578 - "climate change climate drought" • SD-Pictures - "industry sunrise sky" • EmArt - "texture nature mud" • WikiImages - "tropical cyclone hurricane isabel" • State Farm - "Neighborhood destroyed following a hurricane" • paulbr75 - "pumping gas fuel pump" • InspiredImages - "wind wind turbines energy" • xlibber - "Electric Car Charging" • SEDACMaps - "Sudan: Input Administrative Boundaries" • Kincse_j - "wood nature sheer" • Launchyourgenius - "Rain drops on my garden!" • Moyan_Brenn - "Desert"

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