For the past few years, we all have witnessed extreme weather conditions, such as heat waves or unexpected winters. And these extreme weather conditions have been rising across the globe for decades. Now, we are experiencing more searing summers, freezing winters, wider temperature swings, rising sea levels, reductions in sea ice levels, shrinking glaciers, increased storm activity, and so much more. As the weather gets more intense, so does the contradictory debate over climate change.
So, what exactly is climate change? Is the earth’s climate changing? If yes, then what is causing the climate to change? Should we, as a resident of earth worry about the effects of a changing climate? Is there a climate change definition that everyone agrees on?
Let’s Learn About The Definition Of Climate Change First:
According to the United Nations (UN), climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. These shifts may be natural, such as through variations in the solar cycle. But since the 1800s, human activities have been the main source of climate change, mostly due to burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas.
When we burn fossil fuels, the process generates greenhouse gas emissions, which function like a blanket wrapped around the earth. It traps the sun’s heat and raises temperatures. Some examples of greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change include carbon dioxide and methane.
These arrive from using gasoline to drive a car or coal to heat a building. Clearing land & forests or deforestation can also release carbon dioxide. Besides that, landfills for garbage are one of the major sources of methane emissions. Likewise, energy, industry, transport, buildings, agriculture and land use, to name a few, are among the main emitters.
Before Moving Further, Let’s Discuss The Difference Between Climate And Weather
People who often deny the existence of climate change confuse weather and climate. To learn more about the clarity between these two, here is the distinction between weather & climate.
It is the local meteorological conditions that are experienced over short periods, such as temperature, precipitation, wind speed, humidity, and visibility.
It is the long-term average of patterns and trends in weather, including day-to-day, year-to-year, and even longer periods.
Now, Know The Difference Between Global Warming and Climate Change
Global warming and climate change are the two most popular terms used to describe the earth’s increasing temperatures. These representations relate to both short-term and long-term trends for weather and climate. While most people often used them interchangeably, there is a slight difference between them:
It is the rising average temperature of the earth’s lower layers, such as the ocean and atmosphere. Such warming occurs from the heat trapped in the earth’s atmosphere due to greenhouse gases.
It is the varying environmental conditions that influence the planet’s weather patterns. Though used in simultaneousness with global warming, climate change doesn’t particularly refer to warming or its causes. Environmentalists often prefer this term due to its broader consideration of all the instabilities happening on the planet in addition to rising temperatures.
Causes Of Climate Change
The majority of climate scientists agree on the fact that climate change is real and it’s happening. However, there’s less accord while pinpointing the specific causes for those changes. Some may argue that natural variations in atmospheric conditions are heating the planet, while others claim that humans are mainly responsible for this accumulation. And in many controversial situations, others acknowledge that a mixture of both is equally responsible.
Causes Of Climate Change – Natural
When it comes to natural factors affecting climate change, these three are the main contributors:
1) Changes in Solar Radiation
The sun’s rays heat the earth nonetheless of changes in weather patterns that occur below the surface. Any change in the sun’s radiation, either an increase or a decrease, will eventually influence the surface temperatures.
2) Greenhouse Gases
As the temperature boosts, more greenhouse gases are released into the air. The process traps more heat in the earth’s atmosphere. Also, it thins out the ozone layer, which means less radiation can escape from the atmosphere.
3) Extreme Weather Changes
Climate change also occurs through drastic weather changes. Disasters, such as hurricanes or floods, can cause consequential damage to the surrounding environment.
Causes Of Climate Change – Man-Made
Some of the most noticeable man-made causes of climate change are:
As much as industrialisation profits the elites, it sure causes destruction to the climate. Increased development has led to the production and allocation of energy. The process releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in higher percentages than in the past.
2) Incompatible Emissions Controls
With technological advancement, emissions control standards have not kept pace equally. It means that more harmful greenhouse gases are released into the air.
Since childhood, we all have heard that plants breathe in carbon dioxide. That’s why it makes them an integral part of life on earth. When the increased amount of trees cutting down without planting new ones, it is creating a disproportion in the atmosphere.
Modern farms send up large amounts of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere while satisfying the food needs of developed countries.
The concrete used to build roads, the automobiles that travel upon them create high levels of carbon dioxide and exhaust fumes that contribute to higher temperatures.
All these causes converge to create what we know as “The Greenhouse Effect”. A situation where greenhouse gases prevent heat from escaping into space, eventually warming the planet.
Undeniably human activities have caused the increase in temperatures, radiation, and gases to spiral out of control. The whole approach results in these warming factors being trapped in the earth’s atmosphere, producing an unhealthy environment.
Effects Of Climate Change
Climate change influences our world in a variety of ways, these effects are:
Transitions in the environment cause shifts in animal behaviour. Several animals are affected by the lack of food sources. Now, new predators who were previously unable to penetrate into their territories can enter with ease. Therefore, animals are forced to either relocate or face extinction.
Severe weather conditions, such as hurricanes and tornadoes are capable to destroy extensive amounts of property. One of the reasons why businesses (especially local ones) suffer the losses that these tragedies bring.
3) Increasing Sea Levels
As polar ice caps melt, sea levels are on the rise. The process can displace millions of people worldwide. Also, it can destroy various ecosystems and natural landmarks in no time.
4) Ocean Acidification
As the oceans soak carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, they are becoming increasingly acidic. It can be dangerous to coral and marine life in the long run.
As weather patterns become unpredictable, they started affecting food production. Also, extreme weather conditions put people at significant risk of disease, injury and sometimes novel illness without immediate treatment.
As the weather becomes warmer and sea levels rise, plant life moves loftier. It can undoubtedly result in problems for local animal life.
A lot of people still do not believe in climate change. Even though scientists have clearly defined what it is and how it’s impacting the earth. As climate change issues become more unbearable, switching its effects becomes even more challenging. That’s why it is pivotal that everyone should acknowledge that climate change is real and that ignoring it will only make the problem worse.
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