What is the controversial Climate Change and why is everybody so worried?
We are all hearing and seeing the concern about climate change everywhere - in today’s newspaper, Netflix documentaries and politicians love to discuss this hot topic every chance they get.
Climate change, often confusingly referred to as global warming, is the change in weather and other climate system’s statistics and patterns over a long period of time, several decades.
There is few doubt left that the main contributor to climate change is the increased amount of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and other gases released into the atmosphere by us – humans, through burning fossil fuels, solid waste mainly coming from livestock, and deforestation. Human caused climate change is called anthropogenic climate change and is drastically altering weather patterns.
All these gases are naturally occurring in earth’s cycle and atmosphere. For millions of years, the oceans, rocks, and vegetations have been able to absorb CO2 known as the carbon cycle. However, since 1950 for the first time ever carbon exceeded more than 300 parts per million (ppm) in the atmosphere and in 2013 it exceeded 400ppm.
It all starts with the sun. Most of its visible radiation is being absorbed by land, water, and vegetation while some of its infrared radiation gets trapped in the atmosphere where it absorbs CO2 and other gases. These gases now feed of this heat and emit another round of radiation that warms the Earth’s surface. This heat energy cannot escape the atmosphere and keeps absorbing more gases that in turn keep heating up the surface even more. This is known as the greenhouse effect, named after the same principle of which the pretty garden greenhouses work. The greenhouse effect leads to global warming.
Global warming is only one effect of climate change among other many others that contribute to increased gas levels. This is where people often get confused and believe when harsh winters, blizzards, and heavier rain seasons occur global warming either does not exist or is being balanced out.
Some of the CO2 makes it down to the oceans where the it causes acidification killing marine life. The increased global temperature causes artic ice to melt which then causes global sea levels to rise. Desertification, when fertile lands becomes uninhabitable due to drought or deforestation, causes food shortages and increases poverty and starvation. Intense flooding and major hurricanes occur more often. Overall summers are becoming hotter, causes humans to use more electricity to stay cool while others die of heat strokes and brush fires occur more frequently.
Climate change will sooner or later effect everybody. We all only share one planet and this planet acts as one giant ecological system, no matter what country, political party or social economic status.
Written By: L. Ostertag