What is climate change?
Climate change is a long-term change in Earth’s weather patterns or average climate, including temperature and precipitation. While the climate has changed in the past, we are now seeing it change at an unprecedented rate.
As a result of the build-up of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere – due to our burning of fossil fuels, cutting down trees and other activities – the global average temperature is now changing at a faster rate than at least over the past 1,000 years.
According to the United Nations, “Climate change is one of the major challenges of today and adds considerable stress to our societies and to the environment. From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale. Without drastic action today, adapting to these impacts in the future will be more difficult and costly.”
It is mind-boggling that the effects of climate change are already manifesting across all borders of the world and across the oceans. True or false, climate change is now affecting every country on every continent of the world. Its palpable effects are disrupting national economies and affecting lives, costing people, communities, and countries dearly today and even more tomorrow.
How Has Climate Changed in Past 10 Years?
In the more than a decade since world leaders first got together to try to solve global warming, life on Earth has changed, not just the climate. It’s gotten hotter, more polluted with heat-trapping gases, more crowded and just downright wilder.
The numbers are alarming.
Carbon dioxide emissions: up 60 percent.
Global temperature: up six-tenths of a degree.
Sea level: up 3 inches.
Extreme weather: up 30 percent.
Ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica: down 4.9 trillion tons of ice.
Since 1992, there have been more than 6,600 major climate, weather and water disasters worldwide, causing more than $1.6 trillion in damage and killing more than 600,000 people worldwide. Over the past 10 years, the number of climate, water and weather disasters has jumped to an average of 306 per year.
AND LET’S TALK ABOUT TEMPERATURE RELATED ISSUES
Extreme temperature is one of the most dangerous threats to the planet and we’re sleepwalking into catastrophe. Global temperatures are on course for a 3-5℃ rise this century. Climate change is also accelerating the global loss of wildlife, decreasing the species abundance by 60%. It has had cataclysmic knock-on effects on human health, development, and security causing an acute food shortage, heatwaves from Europe to the Arctic, floods from India to Japan, Wildfires from Australia to California, storms from the US to the Philippines. One such example is the poor AQI of Delhi, leading to major discomfort in breathing and respiratory diseases.
The world’s oceans have risen by about 3 inches since 1992 and gotten a tad more acidic — by about half a percent — thanks to chemical reactions caused by the absorption of carbon dioxide. Every year sea ice cover shrinks to a yearly minimum size in the Arctic in September — a measurement that is considered a key climate change indicator.
Scientists simply point to greenhouse gas emissions, mostly carbon dioxide, that form a heat-trapping blanket in our air.
There’s no need to average the yearly amount of carbon dioxide pollution: It has increased steadily, by 60 percent, from 1992 to 2013.
“Overall, what really strikes me is the missed opportunity”
~Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M University.
“We knew by the early 1990s that global warming was coming, yet we have done essentially nothing to head off the risk. I think that future generations may be justifiably angry about this. The numbers don’t lie,” said Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State.
“Greenhouse gases are rising steadily and the cause is fossil fuel burning and other human activities. The globe is warming, ice is melting and our climate is changing as a result.”
The goal is simple. Carbon dioxide is the climate’s worst enemy. It’s released when oil, coal, and other fossil fuels are burned for energy—the energy we use to power our homes, cars, and smartphones. By using less of it, we can curb our own contribution to climate change while also saving money. Here are 5 easy, effective ways each one of us can make a difference:
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Reduce your need to buy new products or use less, resulting in a smaller amount of waste. Even if you need to buy, consider buying eco-friendly products. It is most effective of the three R’s. It simply says cut back from where are you now.
Reuse bottles, plastic containers, and other items bought at the grocery store. Reusing water bottles, yogurt cups, bread ties, and other items is being conscious about what is already out there. It will lessen having to purchase other items that would fulfill the same function. Try to use disposable products into some other form. Just don’t throw them away.
Recycling unwanted paper, bottles, etc is a great earth saving tip. If possible, upcycle tables, furniture, and other outdated items to keep landfills clean. You can recycle almost anything for e.g.: paper, aluminum foils, cans, newspapers.
Green your commute
The many ways to reduce your transportation emissions will also make you healthier, happier and save you a few bucks. Whenever and wherever you can:
- Take public transit.
- Ride a bike.
- Switch to an electric or hybrid vehicle.
Use energy wisely — save money, too!
The small changes you make add up:
- Change to energy-efficient light bulbs.
- Unplug computers, TVs and other electronics when you’re not using them.
- Wash clothes in cold or warm (not hot) water.
- Dryers are energy hogs, so hang dry when you can and use dryer balls when you can’t.
- Install a programmable thermostat.
Help put a price on pollution
Putting a price on the carbon emissions of a city can greatly reduce the level of pollution for, let’s just face it, carbon emission is the major factor affecting climate change. By measuring the Air Quality Index of a city, you can actually measure the amount of pollution caused every year and have norms that add up to the taxes of the individuals of that particular place. Having the change in pollution level with chargeable measures can help in the judicious use of resources and thus lead to less damage.
Consume less, waste less, enjoy life more
Focusing on life’s simple pleasures — spending time in nature, being with loved ones and/or making a difference to others — provides more purpose, belonging and happiness than buying and consuming. Sharing, making, fixing, upcycling, repurposing and composting are all good places to start.
“There can be no Plan B because there is no planet B”.
~UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon
“Inheritance” is a word often used when it comes to our responsibility to take care of the planet, but I don’t think it’s the right one.
After all, when you inherit something, it’s yours to do as you like with.
I prefer to say that we are “borrowing” the earth, from future generations; when you borrow something, you have to hand it back in good condition. We have to focus on what we can do now to protect the only earth we have.
So let’s just work together to make this earth a sustainable planet and really think about things that matter. With the 10 year challenge, it’s time to put our hands together for the one challenge that really matters, climate action.
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