Climate Change/ Global Warming- All You Need to Know

Climate Change and Global Warming

The inconvenient truth is that Climate Change is real. We ourselves can feel the earth’s temperature rising. There are very many undeniable climate events, droughts, extreme weather events getting intensified.

The noted British naturalist Sir David Attenborough on 3 December 2018, told delegates at the 24th session of the UNFCCC made this opening speech:

“Right now we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years: climate change. If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world are on the horizon”.

What is Climate Change? (Global Warming)

Climate Change” or “Global Warming” is referred to the anthropogenic (chiefly of environmental pollution and pollutants- originating in human activity) changes in the climate. In other words, anthropogenic means: ‘the climate changes which are caused by human activities, which are opposed to the natural process of the Earth’.

The term “Climate Change”, has undergone a series of modification since its inception. In 1966, World Meteorological Organizations (WMO) had proposed this term to embody all forms of climatic variability on a given time frame for a period of 10 years, without any reference on the cause. The term, however, was replaced in the 1970s to mean the extent, how anthropogenic causes were the evident source to alter the climate. Climate change has now been incorporated in the major forums of climate concerns, namely the Intergovernmental Panel on climate change & UN Framework Convention on Climate change (UNFCCC).  It is used in the technical description of the entire process, as well as nouns to mean the problem surrounding it.

Climate Change: Initiatives by world forums and its Objectives

Paris Agreement:

This is an agreement within the UNFCCC, primarily dealing with Greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance, which was signed in 2016. The Paris Agreement has its long-term goal to keep the increase in global average temperature to below 2 0 C and to limit the increase to 1.5 0C, with a view to reducing the risk and effect on climate change. Under the Paris Agreement, each country should determine, plan and regularly report on their contributions are taken to reduce global warming.

It’s Objectives:

Paris Agreement enhances the implementation of the UNFCCC with these objectives [extract from the Paris Agreement objectives]

  • Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change;
  • Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production;
  • Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.

United Nations Climate Change Conference

It’s a yearly conference held, as a formal meeting of the UNFCCC Parties, with its objective to access the progress in dealing with climate change, and to negotiate the Kyoto Protocol- to build legal binding obligations on the developed countries to reduce the emission of greenhouse gas. The first official UN Climate Change Conference was held in 1995, Berlin.

Here are the results of the latest 24th Session held from 3-14 December 2018 UNFCCC in Katowice, Poland. [Extract from Results of UNFCCC]

  • The Polish presidency declared a “forests for climate” policy highlighting the important role of forests in solving climate problems.
  • 50 countries signed the “Solidarity and Just Transition Silesia Declaration”, which emphasizes the need for emission-reducing policies
  • Many funded to take measure to reduce global warming Norway pledged $516m to the Green Climate Fund.
  • New members join the Powering Past Coal Alliance; now there are around 80
  • Maersk, the world’s largest shipping company, said it will totally eliminate its carbon impact by 2050

There are great other results reaped from this conference.  However, a lot more effort is necessary for the reduction of emission caused by industries from various nations.

India’s Initiative to reduce Global Warming

With its pledge for Paris Agreement and UNFCCC, India has made consistent efforts to reduce it contributes to global warming in the most pragmatic way. India has voluntarily declared a goal of reducing its emissions intensity of GDP by 20–25%, over 2005 levels, by 2020

Find the noteworthy initiatives taken by the Indian Government following the UNFCCC recommendations (PDF).

Alternatives to reduce Global warming:

An alternative to reduce Global warming has become highly imperative, as our nation is speeding towards the edge of rigors development. Innovating ways and methods which help to alleviate those situations are need of the hour. And over the years, various practical initiatives have been taken to ameliorate the highly sensitive situation of global warming.

Listed below are a few semblances of such alternatives:

  • Electrifying Transportation
  • Develop National Renewable Energy (RE) Policy
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Utility-Scale Projects
  • Renewable Innovative Financing Solution
  • Microgrids
  • Solar Roadways
  • Develop Energy Storage

Causes of Climate change:

A plethora of activities does contribute to adverse climate change.  The major contributions to Global warming are listed below:

  • Carbon Dioxide: This is the biggest of all contributors towards climate change. CO2 is emitted naturally through the carbon cycle, plant & animal respiration, volcanic eruptions, and ocean-atmosphere exchanges. Endless Human Activities, involving in the burning of fossil fuels, cement manufacture and changes in the land uses, the release of a huge amount of CO2, are causing the rise of temperature.

Human activities contribute over 30 billion tons of CO2 every year in the atmosphere. The Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration has risen from pre-industrial levels of 280 parts per million by volume (ppmv) to over 401 ppmv in 2016.

  • Methane:

This is produced both naturally and through human activities.  For instance, natural wetlands, agricultural activities, and fossil fuels extractions and transport all emit CH4.

The concentration of Methane is much more in the Earth’s Atmosphere now than it was in the past 80,000 years. Human activities have contributed to the concentration of CH4 remarkably.

  • Nitrous Oxide:

This is produced both naturally and through human activities, and agricultural activities and natural biological processes contribute immensely. Fuel burning and other process emit N2O. The concentration of N2O has increased rapidly to 20% at the end of the 20th Century.

  • Other Noteworthy Contributors:

Water Vapour: This is the most abundant greenhouse gas and it the most important contributor to the natural greenhouse effect. Its concentration has an effect on the climatic change and the fluctuation of the temperature.

Tropospheric Ozone (O3): Chemical reactions create ozone from emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds which is released from automobiles, power plants, and other industrial and commercial sources in the presence of sunlight.

The F-gases: The F-gases which consist of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), hydro-fluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), have a long time atmospheric changes and becomes the cause of great climate change for many decades and centuries. These gases are used in coolants, foaming agents, fire extinguishers, solvents, pesticides, and aerosol propellants.

Impact of Climate Change

Climate changes have a drastic impact on the biotic spheres of the universe.  Listed below are some of the adverse impacts:

I) Physical Environment:

The decline in Arctic Sea ice, Rise in Sea Level, and Retreat of Glaciers:

Global warming has brought decades of shrinking and thinning of the Arctic Sea Ice. Estimates show that the rate of decline could be up to 1 million square Km, which will lead to a rise of the sea level by 52-98 cm. The warmth of the sea water could result in more Antarctic Glacier Outlets, eventually resulting in the rapid rise of sea level.

Extreme weather and Events, Tropical Cyclones:

Instances of extreme droughts and heat waves with increased frequency are the major impacts in the environment.  The number of Maximum Rainfalls, speeding winds from Hurricanes and typhoons are increasing at an alarming rate. These are the projections caused by the increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events.

Changes in the Ocean Properties:

The increasing concentration of Co2 has resulted in the creation of ocean acidity. There is also the decrease of oxygen, because of the reduced insolubility of oxygen in warm water, giving rise to Ocean de-oxygenation.

II) Impact on Human Beings

Food and water:

The impact on Crop Production will be affected negatively in the low latitude countries. It has a big risk to global and regional food security. By 2013, four major crops were negative, namely wheat & maize, soy & rice. There is a great change in agricultural production with climate variability.

Health & Security:

The impact on public health is negative than positive. Its impact is seen in the extreme weather, leading to injury and loss of life. There are other indirect effects like undernutrition, which is brought about by crop failures. The rise in the temperature has also been the cause of an increased number of suicides.

The very many violent conflicts are linked to climate change, which created poverty and economic imbalances.

Livelihoods, industry, and infrastructure:

The rise of the sea level is a threat to many Livelihoods, industry, and infrastructure. Many low-lying nations will be part of the ravaging oceans. Climate Change is the cause of migration, both within and to cross countries.

Conclusion:

Global Warming is a serious concern which affects the nitty-gritty of everyday life, of individuals and society. Being more conscious of our actions in daily living, and taking appropriate measures to alleviate the situation can be the contribution we can give to bring positive changes. This sensitivity towards the greater good of the universe will bring a lasting impact, making the universe a better place to dwell in.

On the contrary, if we multiply the effects to the universe and speed global warming, we are shortening the life span of the entire humanity. Creating awareness in our small set-ups will be of great help and the biggest contribution we can make for more lasting existence.

 

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