Climate Change Greenhouse Effect and Evironmental Degradation

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The problem of climate change is an environmental degradation issue which lies among our entire nation. This issue is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity and needs urgent action globally, nationally and locally. Climate change is not a recent occurrence; stretching back to in the ‘early 19th century when ice ages and other natural changes in paleoclimate were first suspected and the natural greenhouse effect first identified,’ however scientists have identified that in recent years our temperatures have drastically risen. In simple terms, climate change is an alteration towards the pattern of weather which will continue to affect our world for decades. In other terms, climate change is a result of greenhouse gas emissions and ‘overexploitation of natural resources.’ Climate change greenhouse gasses are gasses that ‘absorbs and emits radiant energy within the thermal infrared range.’ This process traps the heat in the atmosphere which then increases the temperature of our Earth and therefore has a direct effect towards climate change.

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These alterations to our weather relate to many factors of our environment including oceans, land surfaces and icesheets. The problem of this is that our globe will continue to warm which not only changes the natural patterns but also creates huge dilemmas with adaptation for all living organisms.

Climate change poses fundamental threats to not only our environment but also poses threats towards us as humans and many species and their livelihoods. Some of the main countries affected by climate change include Europe, North America, Coastal East Africa, Eastern Himalayas and specifically in the areas of the Amazon, Coral Triangle, Haiti, Lagos Nigeria, Manila, Kiribati and the United Arab Emirates. Those who live in deprived areas around the world experience the majority of the adverse effect of this issue. These areas are mostly at risk of the climate change consequences as they have a much ‘higher level of vulnerability to environmental determinants of health, wealth and other factors, and much lower levels of capacity available for coping with environmental change.’ Many of the areas mentioned above face severe suffering due to their communities relying on their natural resources to survive like ‘agriculture, fishing, forestry, health care, real estate and tourism.’ Although each person is venerable to climate changed and will be effected it both now and in the future, there are those in particular who are at a higher risk them others. These people include children and women especially with any sort of medical issue including disabilities as they are ‘least equipped to adapt to any type of changing climate.’

Although we as humans are hugely affected by climate change, we are not the only living organisms that must adapt to this issue. The direct risks of climate change not only affect us as humans but it also affects our wildlife around us, ‘from polar bears in the arctic to marine turtles off the coast of Africa.’ Because of this huge problem, our planets diversity of life face new challenges for survival each day and must adapt to these new temperatures. Although almost every specie of animal is effected by climate change, some are affected more so then others based on where they are found and the environment in which they live in. These species include sea turtles, snow leopard, tigers, whales, African elephants, dolphins, porpoises, mountain gorilla, giant pandas, monarch butterflies, cheetahs and polar bears.

Climate change has been an issue for many decades however the major factors contributing to this cause include both processes inside the Earth and forces from outside. Greenhouse gasses, land use changes and aerosols and soot are just some of the many causes of climate change in which humans play a huge contributing role towards. Human activity and more specifically the industrial activities of our now modern society have completely altered the natural greenhouse here on Earth. Our actions contribution to climate change have ‘raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 280 parts per million to 400 parts per million in the last 150 years.’ In particular, scientists have discovered that over the last century, human-produced greenhouse gasses, including carbon dioxide, methane, water vapour and nitrous oxide have fundamentally caused climate change.

Carbon dioxide is a minor yet important substance within the Earth’s atmosphere however through human activities such as burning fossil fuels, land use changes and deforestation, the concentration of this atmosphere has increased by more than a third since the industrial revolution began.

Methane is a hydrocarbon gas which is ‘produced both through natural sources and human activities.’ Methane contributes to climate change through human activity, acting as an active greenhouse gas and produced through the ‘decomposition of wastes in landfills, agriculture, rice cultivation, and ruminant digestion and manure management associated with domestic livestock.’

Water vapour is the most abundant greenhouse gas which typically controls the Earth’s temperature. Water vapour, on average accounts for approximately 60% of the Earths warming effect which means it is one of the largest contributor to the greenhouse effect.

Finally nitrous oxides has a high global warming potential, 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Although this gas is released in small amounts, globally this gas ‘captures reradiated infrared radiation from the Earth’s surface and subsequently warming the troposphere.’ Us as humans contribute to the production of this gas through soil cultivation practices including the use of ‘commercial and organic fertilizers, fossil fuel combustion, nitric acid production, and biomass burning.’

As mentioned above, climate change has huge repercussions towards the entire life cycle of our wild animals due to species having to adapt to new climate patterns. Our animals are put at risk due to the effects upon the environment in which they live.

However, this is not the only effect that global warming has on our natural environment. Climate change also alters the nature of ‘global rainfall, evaporation, snow and stream flow’ which not only increases the temperature of water put also interferes with the water quality and accelerate water pollution. Some of the observable effects on our environment that have already been observed by scientists include, ‘more intense heat waves, plant and animal ranges shifting, more frequent droughts and storms and flowering sooner on trees shrinkage.’ One major effect on our environment which is mostly known by many is the melting of the glaziers. This is a huge consequence of global warming upon our environment as it means our sea levels have the potential to rise. Research about melting glaciers have proven that climate change has contributed to a massive two thirds of the loss of glaziers over the past decade.

Implications involving climate change for the future, at the rate that were going, will continue to negatively impact on our environment. Each implication that comes along with climate change is ‘predicted to endure through this century and beyond depending on mainly whether the Earth’s climate is sensitive to the heat-trapping gases emitted globally.’ These implications are immeasurable with potential for more ‘frequent wildfires, longer periods of drought, and increase in intensity of tropical storms.’

Although these are further implications for the future, they have already begun displaying some huge consequences in our world today with the frequency of strong hurricanes increasing since the 1980s. UCAR (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research) say that predictions of future global climate include ‘rising temperatures, changing precipitation, melting of snow and ice, rising sea level, acidic ocean water, impacts on ocean currents, changing of severe weather, more clouds, changes to life and the carbon cycle, disruption of thermohaline circulation, sudden release of methane and ocean uptake of carbon.’ Although each of these changes are legitimate and scientifically proven, the impact will differ from region to region.

Each of these implications for the future will develop more and more as the Earth’s temperatures rise, which, as mentioned as a possible implication for the future above, plays a huge part in the rising sea levels. It has been predicted that in the next two decades, our temperatures would have warmed by about 0.2° Celsius. This means that by 2050, it has been predicted that the arctic oceans will become completely ice free in the summers while further predictions have expected that oceans will rise between ‘one and four feet before 2100.’

Climate change is clearly a huge environmental issue that must be adequately addressed before we face further consequences of climate change. Some urgent suggestions made by WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature), an organisation which works in the field of wilderness preservation, to overcome the problem include ‘advance policies to fight climate change, engage with businesses to reduce carbon emissions and help people and nature adapt to a changing climate.’

Along with WWF, many other organisations are currently working to be able to address the climate change problem in our world, one of these organisations being one of the biggest organisations, World Vision. World vision works directly with communities to identify solutions to help combat this issue of climate change such as focusing on ‘food security, clean energy, natural resource management and climate adaptation.’ This organisation has also began many projects in order to limit the effect that humans have on this issue. These projects include reforestation, agro-forestry and climate-smart agriculture.

As a world leader, ‘World Vision helps promote Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration in rural Australian communities,’ which further assists in the regrowth of naturally grown trees on both farmlands and forests as well as helping to improve agriculture, reducing droughts, floods and landslides. World Vision is also pitching in to help by running a campaign called ’the clean stoves projects’ in Ethiopia as well as working with communities in South East Asia and the Pacific. Within these developments, world vision are trying to better prepare people for tropical storms and all natural disasters as well as helping to reduce the number of trees needed to cut down, both becoming an increasing problem due to climate change.

Although these organisations are doing a great job to help overcome the problem of climate change, each and every person has the power to reduce their environmental footprint as well and help remove climate change once and for all. Simple suggestions that can play a huge role in the banishment of climate change includes both small advancements at home or around the community. These small improvements include, using energy more wisely, Reducing water waste, using renewable energy, greening ones commute, Using long-lasting light bulbs and even just start a conversation about climate and educate others with how they can help save the country.        

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