Climate Change By Tara O'Connor

Part 1

Climate change is a major issue facing our world moving forward. Brittanica Academic defines climate change as a "periodic modification of Earth’s climate brought about as a result of changes in the atmosphere as well as interactions between the atmosphere and various other geologic, chemical, biological, and geographic factors within the Earth system."

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Greenhouse gases, gases that trap heat in the atmosphere, are a leading cause for climate change. Usually, greenhouse gases are removed from the atmosphere by chemical reactions or emission sinks.

The greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

However, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, "As a result of human activities, these gases are entering the atmosphere more quickly than they are being removed, and thus their concentrations are increasing." Too many greenhouse gases cause the Earth's temperature to change quickly and unpredictably.

Global Warming

Global warming, the ongoing rise in global average temperatures near Earth's surface, is caused mainly by the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Due to global warming, climate patterns are changing.

A graph showing the change in temperature over the last 130 years.

Over the past century, Earth's average temperature has risen by 1.5°F and is expected to rise another 0.5°F to 8.6°F over the next century.

Part 2

Consequences of Climate chanGe

The crypsphere, the frozen water on Earth is melting rapidly due to a warmer atmosphere. In turn, this melting water contributes to a sharp sea level rise. Also, "melting sea ice exposes darker ocean waters, which absorb more sunlight than ice – heating the ocean more and triggering a relentless cycle of melting and heating."

A large portion of Arctic Sea ice has melted over the last 36 years.

Climate change poses a major threat to agriculture. Shifting, unpredictable weather patterns are hard for farmers worldwide to keep up with. Farms are also becoming increasingly more likely to face attacked from diseases, pests, and weeds.
"Habitats on land and in the sea are changing, making them inhospitable for some species, while letting others move in and take over. Some ecosystems are at risk of collapsing."

Animals' habitats have changed greatly due to climate change. A prime example is the disappearing Arctic ice. Many ice-dependent mammals, like polar bears, struggle to survive. Environmental Defense Fund notes that "in 2008, the polar bear became the first animal to be added to the Endangered Species Act list of threatened species because of global warming."

This graph shows the changes in risk of wildlife species disappearance from Canada.

Future Consequences of Climate Change

Weather patterns will become more erratic with changes in rainfall, increased amounts of droughts and heat waves, and larger hurricanes.

NASA projects that in the United States, more rain will fall in the North and less in the South. In the Southwest, heavy rainfall will occur sometimes, but total precipitation will decrease.

Droughts, especially in the Southwest, and heat waves are predicted to become more intense. Cold waves will become less intense across the United States. Also, temperatures will continue to rise, especially summer temperatures.

Hurricane storm intensity and rainfall rates are expected to increase as the climate continues to warm.

The devasting future effects of climate change

Response to Climate Change

Every year, world leaders meet for the United Nations Climate Change Conference. There, they discuss progress in dealing with climate change, and to negotiate to initiate legally binding obligations for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

On April 22, 2016, the Paris Agreement was opened for signature. This agreement deals with "greenhouse gases emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020." The agreement went into effect on November 4, 2016.

The key elements of the Paris Agreement.

Part 3

Effects of Climate Change on Malawi

Malawi's flag and location.

Malawi, a country in Southeastern Africa, has been severely impacted by climate change. According to ActionAid, "The impacts of climate change in Malawi are being manifested in various ways such as intense rainfall, changing rainfall patterns, floods, droughts and prolonged dry spells."


Malawi is one of the smallest countries in Africa, with Lake Malawi taking about one-third of the land. Malawi ranks among the world's least developed countries. The economy is based largely on agriculture. There are only two major cities as most of the population is rural.

Major Flooding

Children stand in floodwater in Malawi.

In early 2015, drastic temperature changes, a direct effect of climate change, led to serious floods which especially affected Southern Malawi but also other parts of the country. Norway's official website states that "84 percent of Malawians depend on natural resources based livelihoods. As a result, many Malawians are highly vulnerable to the changes in temperatures and precipitation."

Effect on the Poor

Nsanje, a region in Southern Malawi, has been particularly affected by heavy floods coupled with a drought. The region contains many poor people who depend on agriculture.

A woman in Malawi standing among her failed crops.

Malawi has a widespread food shortage due to the weather patterns. Nsanje has serious food shortages due to the flood, which wiped many crops out, and due to the drought as crops cannot survive without water.

A Malawian man in his field after the drought.
"The price of maize has doubled in the past several months as supply cannot keep up with demand. With the national grain reserve now empty, families are now only allowed to purchase 20 kilograms of maize at a time. The government is also looking to neighbouring countries to purchase food from them."
A Malawian counts money for food.

With rising food prices and food shortages, most in Nsanje, and the rest of Malawi, face starvation.

Created By
Tara O'Connor

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