I am sure you have noticed the intensity of the sun and adverse changes in the weather lately. This is due to the change in the earth’s climate.
Climate change, or global warming, is a serious environmental crisis. It has affected humanity’s existence on the earth adversely, creating challenges and displacing people from their homes.
What Is Climate Change?
Climate change refers to the long-term changes or shifts in the weather patterns or temperature of a region. It could happen as a result of natural phenomena or human-influenced activities.
Interchangeably used with global warming, which was formally defined as a rise in the earth’s temperature that persists for a decade or longer. Climate change occurs due to the increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases play a major role in controlling our planet’s temperature.
The Greenhouse Effect
In horticulture, the greenhouse is a glasshouse where tender plants and out-of-season plants are grown and protected from excessive cold or heat. The whole building or the roof is made of glass which is meant to trap the heat from the sun in order to regulate the temperature in the greenhouse. Just like the greenhouse in horticulture, the earth is a greenhouse with its troposphere (the lowest layer of the atmosphere) serving as an invincible glass roof.
When the rays of the sun reach the earth’s surface, the gases in the troposphere trap the right amount of heat from the rays, making it possible for the earth to have the right temperature for habitation. This is known as the greenhouse effect. If the gases or greenhouse gases rise in concentration, the earth becomes warmer than usual and can influence climate change.
Other greenhouse gases include water vapours, chlorofluorocarbons, nitrous oxide and ozone. Among the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide is more in quantity and the most threatening.
Causes of Climate Change
Natural activities like changes in the sun’s activities or large volcanic eruptions and the earth changing positions every 40 years have been contributing factors to climate change. The present ice age the earth is in started over 2.5 million years ago. So, we are in an interglacial period known as Holocene.
Since the 1800s (the birth of the industrial revolution), the earth has experienced an unprecedented increase in climate change and atmospheric warmth due to the rise in greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Human activities through the burning of fossil fuels like gas, oil and coal play a major role in climate change. The release of carbon dioxide in large quantities into the atmosphere by these fuels traps the heat caused by the sun’s rays in the air, making the earth warmer than usual.
Large industrial plants, vehicles and generators that use these fossil fuels to function are part of the problem. Other human activities that influence climate change are agriculture (the production of animal protein which releases methane gas into the atmosphere) and deforestation.
Effects on Public Health
The climate is changing and getting hotter and faster than pre-industrial times. Scientists say that the earth is 1% hotter than before the 1800s. As the earth gets warmer, ice sheets melt into the ocean and each year, the sea levels rise 3 millimetres. This in turn causes more hurricanes, heavy storms, floods, extreme and unpredictable weather conditions, wildfires, and drought.
Earth’s delicate ecosystem begins to deteriorate as it takes more warmth than it can handle. Extinction of some species becomes inevitable. People are displaced from their homes due to floods, hurricanes, tsunamis and wildfires. Lively hoods are destroyed, and poverty levels increase.
Ocean acidification is another impact of climate change. The ocean’s pH level is alkaline and is suitable for the creatures underwater to survive and coexist. However, as the levels of carbon dioxide increase in the atmosphere, it is absorbed into the ocean. This results in the pH level of the ocean rising and becoming more acidic, which affects marine creatures adversely. It also affects our seafood health and supply.
Measures of Control
Climate change and global warming can’t be stopped, but there are measures that can be practised to slow down the effects.
- Replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy like solar power, windmill power and water dams.
- Buying items that can be recycled or reused.
- Using transport systems like electric trains, bicycles, electric cars or solar cars.
- Practising vertical farming.
- Changing the diet to more vegetables and less meat.
- Other actions to take involve adapting to the climate impacts and financing the required adjustments. There are also global frameworks to guide the process like, The Paris Agreement, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and others.
By simply following these measures and cutting emissions, global warming will be drastically managed, and our ecosystem save.
Delay Is Dangerous
Scientists believe that in 2030, given the rate at which the earth’s atmosphere is getting hotter, the percentage of increase in the earth’s warmth would be more than 1.5%. This is alarming. They also believe that by 2050, over two-thirds of fossil fuels should be kept back in the ground to avoid catastrophic levels of climate change.
The measure to implement in order to control this speed should be carried out sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, most countries still depend on fossil fuels leading to the daily pollution of the atmosphere. Many countries are dependent on animal products for their economy and more trees are being cut down to build roads and fossil-burning industries.
Our collective effort in combating this issue can’t be overemphasised as we have found ourselves racing to global extinction. We must find alternatives to our present energy supply, become vegetarians, if need be, aggressively plant more trees, and find better and healthy ways to grow our food.
The earth is our only home. Its destruction means the end of humanity as we know it. It is our God-given duty to take care of it, after all.