Introduction to Climate Change

Introduction to Climate Change 

Changes that are normally brought about by climatic variations have caused major environmental concerns worldwide. These changes without doubt bring about a crisis of huge proportions which affects the regulators of environment economically, socially and even politically too. When the weather pattern shifts for instance, this normally leads to a very big threat in the production of food owing to the fact that the climatic conditions become relatively unpredictable. Flooding is normally more prevalent in such cases because the reserves for freshwater normally get contaminated when the sea levels rise uncontrollably. Diseases spread more rapidly in such instances while pests also gain an added advantage that they use for the destruction of the food crops.


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Due to the changes in climate, the emphasis that is laid on going green has become greater. It is relatively important for business to go green so that they may be able to limit the amount of carbon that is emitted into the atmosphere. It is very significant for all to ensure that they take the required steps that are essential in limiting the factors that lead to climate changes in their areas. There are several terms that are mostly used in climate change which every person should be knowledgeable about for a deeper understanding of what is actually involved here. The main ones are:

Climate Change

This is an expression that may be used in place of global warming in some cases but the difference between them is quite notable. When you want to describe climate change, you will be required to touch on the elements that bring about changes such as rainfall, humidity, weather events, temperature, etc. The main similarity in global warming & climate change is the fact that they are both brought about by natural causes as well as human activities. Manmade effects generally come from the effects of greenhouses while natural effects include: currents from the ocean, volcano activities & a drift of the continents.

Global Warming

This is a term that is used to describe the warming which occurs on earth in general. When the average temperature of the planet is exceeded by a very large percentage, this is what normally constitutes global warming. This is a state that can either occur naturally or due to human activities on earth. With an increase in the activities of greenhouses on our planet, global warming has become more prevalent because of the gases that are released as a result. Such activities normally trap energy that is released from the sun here and prevents it from being released into space as is required.

This diagram shows the Earth's "greenhouse effect." The Earth absorbs some of the energy it receives from the sun and radiates the rest back toward space. However, certain gases in the atmosphere, called greenhouse gases, absorb some of the energy radiated from the Earth and trap it in the atmosphere. These gases essentially act as a blanket, making the Earth’s surface warmer than it otherwise would be. While this greenhouse effect occurs naturally, making life as we know it possible, human activities in the past century have substantially increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, causing the atmosphere to trap more heat and leading to changes in the Earth’s climate. Source: EPA.

This diagram shows the Earth’s “greenhouse effect.” The Earth absorbs some of the energy it receives from the sun and radiates the rest back toward space. However, certain gases in the atmosphere, called greenhouse gases, absorb some of the energy radiated from the Earth and trap it in the atmosphere. These gases essentially act as a blanket, making the Earth’s surface warmer than it otherwise would be. While this greenhouse effect occurs naturally, making life as we know it possible, human activities in the past century have substantially increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, causing the atmosphere to trap more heat and leading to changes in the Earth’s climate. Source: EPA.

Greenhouse Effect

Climatic changes & global warming are normally caused by gases emitted from greenhouses. These gases normally prevent radiation which is released by the sun from leaving the earth’s atmosphere into space hence causing a rise in the overall temperature. As a result, the climate is also altered as well. The human activities that mostly lead to the greenhouse effects are: Burning wood, coal, natural gas and even coal. Even though some of the greenhouse gases are man made, some occur naturally and the main ones on that regard are: Water vapor & carbon dioxide

Cumulative per capita responsibility for anthropogenic CO2, 1950 - 2000. Data from the World Resources Institute's CAIT 4.0 database.

Cumulative per capita responsibility for anthropogenic CO2, 1950 – 2000. Data from the World Resources Institute’s CAIT 4.0 database.

Air Pollution

When the air is polluted, this normally leads to changes in the environment owing to the reason that normal circulation is interrupted. The air as a result usually becomes of poorer quality and smoggy which leads to global warming & climate change too. The gases which are released through the green house effect are the ones responsible for air pollution. Steps are normally taken by the relevant authorities in order increase the visibility of air and its overall quality. In addition to this, the reduction of the pollutants brought about by the greenhouse gases is also significant in ensuring that air is cleaned.

Smog in Shanghai, China, 1993.

Smog in Shanghai, China, 1993.

Ozone Layer Depletion

The ozone layer is a very thin layer that is located at the upper part of the earth’s atmosphere and its main purposes is to absorb the sun’s radiation. When the ozone layer is depleted, this means that more of the harmful UV (ultra-violet) rays will penetrate the earth’s surface causing massive effects to the growth of crops. Moreover, humans are also affected by this since the UV rays can cause skin cancer and other numerous health problems as well.

Antarctic Ozone Hole as of Sept. 22, 2012.  Source: NASA.

Antarctic Ozone Hole as of Sept. 22, 2012. Source: NASA.

These are some very grave statistics regarding climate change but the good news is that more entities are now taking the responsibility of curbing these issues more seriously. Higher levels of climate change that are alarming can nonetheless be avoided provided the hydrocarbon energy in use can be substituted with ones that have lesser effects to the environment. All the vital tools that are required for this to be achievable are readily available and it is up to us to make an immediate decision so that the required programmes may be put in place in order to curb this worldwide disaster 

Reference:

UNEP Climate Change Factsheet- July 2010 – http://www.unep.org/climatechange/Introduction.aspx

“The Greenhouse Effect” in: “Introduction,” in: US EPA (December 2012), Climate Change Indicators in the United States, 2nd edition, Washington, DC, USA: US EPAhttp://www.epa.gov/climatechange/science/indicators/download.html, p.3. EPA 430-R-12-004.