Climate change specifies to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. These changes may be natural, such as through divergence in the solar cycle. However since the 1800s, human activities are the main cause of climate change. Mainly due to burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas.
Burning fossil fuels generates greenhouse gas emissions like a blanket wrapped around the Earth’s atmosphere, trapping the Sun’s heat and raising temperatures.
Examples of greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change include carbon dioxide and methane. These come from using gasoline to drive a car or coal to heat etc. Deforestation can also release carbon dioxide, and landfills for garbage constitute a significant source of emission of green house gases
It is the highest level of greenhouse gas concentrations.
And emissions is still rising. And therefore the Earth is now about 1.1°C warmer than ever before. 2011-2020 was the warmest decade on record.
Climate change not only means warmer temperatures. But also the temperature rise is only the starting of the many other problems. Since the Earth is a system where everything is interconnected, changes in one section will result changes to all other sections too.
Intensified droughts, water scarcity, severe fires, rising sea levels, flooding, melting polar ice, catastrophic storms, and declining biodiversity have all been linked to climate change.
The impacts of climate change are diverse for different people.
Climate change can affect even our day-to-day life. Many of us are already vulnerable to climate impacts, mainly consisting of people living in small island nations and other similar developing areas. Problems like sea-level rise and saltwater intrusion are rising, so the communities nearby must relocate. Also, protracted droughts are putting people at risk of famine. Shortly, the number of “climate refugees” is expected to rise.
Climate Change: The Causes
Human activities are promoting the global warming trend observed since the mid-20th century.
- The greenhouse effect is highly essential for sustaining life on Earth. But human-made pollution in is trapping heat.
- The five essential greenhouse gases causing climate change are CO2, nitrous oxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons, and water vapour.
About 90% of this heat is absorbed by greenhouse gases and re-radiated; thus, it is slowing heat loss to space.
Generating power and heat by burning fossil fuels causes many global emissions of greenhouse gases. Electricity is mainly generated by burning coal, oil, or gas, which produces potent greenhouse gases. Globally, electricity also comes from wind, solar and other renewable sources, which emit little to no greenhouse gases or pollutants into the air as opposed to fossil fuels.
Manufacturing and industry produce emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, to have energy for manufacturing things like cement, iron, clothes, steel, electronics, plastics and other goods. Mining and other industrial processes release gases, as does the construction industry. Machines used in manufacturing often run on coal, oil, or gas; some materials, like plastics, are made from chemicals sourced from fossil fuels. The manufacturing industry is a prominent donor of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.
Cutting down trees to make farmlands, or for similar other reasons, causes emissions of CO2. When they are cut, they release the CO2 they have been storing inside. Every year about 12 million hectares of forest undergo destruction. Since forests absorb CO2 destroying them also limits nature’s ability to emit gases out of the atmosphere. Deforestation, agriculture, and other land use changes are also responsible for a limited amount of emission of greenhouse gases.
Most vehicles like cars, trucks, ships and planes run on fossil fuels. That makes transportation a significant contributor to greenhouse gases, especially carbon-dioxide emissions. Road vehicles account for the most important part, due to the combustion of petroleum-based products, in internal combustion engines. But greenhouse gas emissions from ships and planes continue to grow. Transport contributes to nearly one-quarter of global energy-related CO2 emissions. And as per the report, there will be a significant increase in energy use for transportation in the upcoming decades.
Food production causes emissions of CO2, methane, and other greenhouse gases in various ways. It also includes deforestation and clearance of land for agriculture and grazing, the production and use of fertilizers and other chemicals for crop cultivation, and the energy consumption to run farm equipment or fishing boats with fossil fuels. All this makes food production a significant promoter of climate change.
Residential and commercial buildings worldwide consume over half of all electricity. Since they continue to depend on coal, oil, and natural gas for various purposes, they emit significant greenhouse gas emissions. Growing energy demand for heating and cooling, rising air-conditioner ownership, and increased electricity consumption for lighting, appliances, and connected devices, have contributed to a rise in emissions of greenhouse gases from buildings recently.
High rate of Consumption
Your daily work, power usage, how and what you consume and how much you waste all contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. So indirectly, it relies on consuming goods such as clothing, electronics, plastics etc. A large amount of global greenhouse gas emissions is linked to private households.
Our lifestyles have a subtle impact on our planet.
A rise in global warming is a serious issue.
According to UN reports, limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C will avoid the worst climate changes and maintain a suitable climate. Even then, currently, reports are showing a 2.8°C rise in temperature within a few years.
Some countries produce greenhouse gases much more than others. The 100 least-emitting countries have about 3 per cent of total emissions, and the 10 countries with the most significant emissions are about 68 per cent. So even though everyone must take climate action, those creating more of the problem have a higher responsibility for immediate action.
Effects of Climate Changes
Global climate change is not a problem we must face in the future. Changes to Earth’s climate driven by rising emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases have boundless effects on the environment: melting of glaciers and ice sheets, plant and animal geographical locations are shifting, and plant and trees are blooming sooner. Some changes like droughts, wildfires, and extreme rainfall are happening faster than previously predicted. As the IPCC(Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ) – the United Nations body responsible for assessing climate change – points out, modern humans have never seen such changes in our global climate. Some of these changes will be irreversible in the coming years.
- The melting of glaciers and ice sheets, rising sea level, and more intense heat waves are some of the effects of climate change.
- Some reports show that global temperature rises from human-made pollutants will continue. As a result, severe weather damage will also increase and intensify in the upcoming years.
As greenhouse gas concentrations increase, the global surface temperature is also rising. The period 2011-2020 is the warmest ever on record. Since the 1980s, each decade has been more generous than the previous one. Moreover, land areas are becoming warmer. Rising temperatures increase heat-related illnesses and make working outdoors more difficult. Wildfires start more quickly and spread more rapidly when conditions are more alluring…
Destructive and heavy storms are becoming more frequent in many parts of the world. When temperatures rise, more moisture evaporates, resulting in extreme rainfall and flooding, causing more violent storms. The warming ocean also affects the frequency and extent of tropical storms. Cyclones, hurricanes, and typhoons feed on warm waters at the ocean surface. These storms often destroy homes and communities, causing deaths and substantial economic losses.
Climate change is affecting water availability, making it scarcer in more regions. Global warming results in water shortages in already water-stressed areas. It also leads to a high risk of agricultural droughts affecting crops, thereby increasing ecosystem vulnerability. It can also cause destructive sand and dust storms that shift tons of sand across the vast land area. This results in expansions, thereby reducing land for growing food. Many people now need more water regularly.
Warming and rising ocean temperature
The sea’s temperature variation rate has enormously increased over the last few years overall oceanic depth. As the ocean warms, its volume increases as the water expand while heating. The melting of glaciers also causes sea levels to rise, threatening coastal areas. In addition, the ocean absorbs CO2, keeping it from the atmosphere. But more carbon dioxide makes the ocean acidic, which endangers marine life and coral reefs.
Loss of species
Climate change risks species’ survival on land and in the ocean, and these risks rise as temperatures increases. As a result of climate change, the world is losing species at 1,000 times greater than at any other time in recorded human history. One million species risk becoming extinct within the next few decades. Forest fires, extreme weather, invasive pests and diseases are many threats to climate change. Some species can relocate and survive, while others can’t.
Scarcity of food
Climate changes and increases in extreme weather also lead to global hunger and malnutrition. Fisheries, crops, and livestock are highly affected or become less productive. Even the marine resources that feed billions of people are at risk, with the ocean becoming more acidic. Ice-melting Arctic regions have affected food from herding, hunting, and fishing. Heat can affect water and grasslands. Therefore causing a decline in crop yields and thus affecting livestock.
More health risks
Climate change is the single biggest threat facing human life too. People in places where they cannot grow food or find enough food are already experiencing health impacts due to air pollution, disease, extreme weather events, forced displacement, and food insecurity. Every year, environmental factors take the lives of around 13 million people, and health systems have difficulty keeping up with extreme weather events due to changing weather patterns. Diseases are spreading and deaths are rising as a result of changing weather patterns.
Poverty and displacement
Climate change also affects the factors that put and keep people in poverty. Urban slums may be swept away by floods, destroying homes and livelihoods. Heat can make it challenging to work in outdoor jobs, and water scarcity may affect crops. During the period(2010–2019), weather-related events displaced an estimated 23.1 million people each year, leaving them much more vulnerable to poverty. Most refugees come from the most vulnerable countries and are least ready to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Climate change: Are scientists on the same page?
New technologies have helped scientists to collect information about our planet and its climate worldwide. These data, collected over many years, reveal the signs and patterns of a changing environment.
Scientists illustrated the heat-trapping nature of CO2 and other gases in the middle of the 19th century. Many science instruments in NASA study climate change and how these gases affect the movement of heat radiation through our atmosphere.
How are climatic changes being resolved?
In executing its mission sustainability objectives are to:
- High energy efficiency;
- High the use of renewable energy;
- Measure, report, and reduce the emission of greeenhouse gases;
- Conserve and protect water bodiesthrough efficient reuse, and management of storm water;
- Eliminate waste, prevention of pollution, and increase recycling of products;
- Design, construction, maintainance of high-performance, sustainable buildings;
- High utilization of power management options and reduce the number of agency data centres;
- Assessment of agency climate change risks and vulnerabilities and development of mitigation and adaptation measures to manage both short- and long-term effects on mission and operations;
- Maintain compliance with all laws and regulations related to energy efficiency and security, a healthy environment, and environmentally-sound operations; and
- Comply with internal NASA requirements and agreements with other entities.