Climate Change | June 5th was here again, the day you can start investing in nature, if you haven’t already. Because as George Eliot said it’s never too late; YOU CAN START TODAY.
Climate change is one of the most important and serious problems of the 21st century that we need to tackle. You learn about the glaciers melting, the biodiversity eroding because of the serious climatic changes being encountered today. If the situation continues, we will soon see a new category emerging “the climate refugees”.
The 13th goal of Sustainable Development Goals suggests to take actions reversing the climate actions. The question is how will be able to sustain it, if not by respecting nature, our home that this earth provided us?
Environment Day: 5th of June, on the same day in 1972 for the first time the world hosted the famous Stockholm Convention for the conservation of environment and starting 1973, it is celebrated as ENVIRONMENT DAY the world over.
Factors affecting Climate Change:
- Continental Drift: The continents, what we are seeing today, were not alike before 200 million years. It is formed when the landmass began gradually drifting apart millions of years back, due to Plate displacement. This drift also had an impact on the climate because it changed the physical features of the landmass, their position and the position of water bodies like changed the flow of ocean currents and winds, which affected the climate.For Example, the Himalayan range is rising by about 1 millimeter every year because the Indian land mass is moving towards the Asian landmass, slowly but steadily.
- Variation in the earth’s orbit: The seasonal distribution of sunlight reaching the Earth’s surface is directly related to Earth’s Orbit and a slight variation in Earth’s orbit leads to variation in distribution across the globe. There are very little changes to the annually averaged sunshine; but there can be strong changes in the geographical and seasonal distribution.
- Plate tectonics: Due to temperature variation in the core of the Earth, the mantle plumes and convection currents force the Plates of the Earth to adjust which causes the reconfiguration of the earth Plate. This can affect both global and local patterns of climate and atmosphere.
- Volcanic activity: When the Volcano erupts, the outburst of gases and dust particles partially block the incoming rays of the Sun which lead to the cooling of the weather. Although the volcanic activity may last only a few days yet the large volumes of gases and ash can influence the climatic pattern over the several years.
- Ocean currents: Ocean currents are the major component of the climatic system which is driven by the horizontal wind forces causing the displacement of the water against the sea surface. Due to temperature variation of the water, the climate of the region is largely influenced.
There is increasing evidence of human influences on the climate system. Human activities are directly influencing the composition of the atmosphere, by increasing the concentration of the naturally occurring greenhouse gases and by adding new ones. We are also changing the reflectivity over parts of the earth’s surface. Anthropogenic or man-made factors result in short term climatic changes. It involves the changes in the energy balance of the Earth – atmosphere system leading to changes in weather and climate. Global warming has occurred faster than any other climate change recorded by humans and so is of great interest and importance to the human population.
- Greenhouse Gases: The concentrations of long-lived greenhouse gases (LLGHGs) have increased rapidly over the past 20 years. These contribute the most to Radiative Forcing, exceeding the level of contribution from all other anthropogenic agents throughout the latter half of the 20th century.
- Carbon dioxide: CO2 is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change. CO2 is absorbed and emitted naturally as part of the carbon cycle, through plant and animal respiration, volcanic eruptions, and ocean-atmosphere exchange. Human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels and changes in land use, release large amounts of CO2, causing concentrations in the atmosphere to rise.
- Methane: Methane is produced through both natural and human activities. For example, natural wetlands, agricultural activities, and fossil fuel extraction and transport all emit methane.
- Water Vapor: It is the most abundant greenhouse gas and also the most important in terms of its contribution to the natural greenhouse effect, despite having a short atmospheric lifetime. Some human activities can influence local water vapor levels. However, on a global scale, the concentration of water vapor is controlled by temperature, which influences overall rates of evaporation and precipitation. Therefore, the global concentration of water vapor is not substantially affected by direct human emissions.
- Nitrous oxide: Nitrous oxide is produced through natural and human activities, mainly through agricultural activities and natural biological processes. Fuel burning and some other processes also create N2O.
- Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), together called F-gases, are often used in coolants, foaming agents, fire extinguishers, solvents, pesticides, and aerosol propellants. Unlike water vapor and ozone, these F-gases have a long atmospheric lifetime, and some of these emissions will affect the climate for many decades or centuries.
- Atmospheric Aerosols: Aerosols can also be a problem for air quality. Since aerosols cool climate, a reduction in aerosols in order to improve air quality, could lead to an extra warming of climate.
- Land use change: The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) acknowledges that land use can contribute significantly to mitigation of climate change. Land plays an important role in global cycles of greenhouse gases.Land use activities can result in emissions of such greenhouse gases to the atmosphere or removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
- Deforestation: Deforestation is the second leading cause of global warming and produces about 24% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Scientist say that deforestation in tropical rain forests adds more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than the sum total of all the cars and trucks on the world’s roads. In some countries, such as Brazil and Indonesia, deforestation and forest degradation together are by far the main source of national greenhouse gas emissions.
- Urbanization: Rapid urbanization is making people more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, according to a new UN report. Desertification swallows arable land needed to feed swelling urban populations. And sea level rise threatens everyone living in coastal areas, delta regions, and small-island countries.
Impacts of Climate Change:
- Higher Temperatures: Greenhouse gases released by power plants, automobiles, deforestation and other sources are heating up the planet. Increased temperatures are to blame for an increase in heat-related deaths and illness, rising seas, increased storm intensity, and many of the other dangerous consequences of climate change.
- Changing Landscapes: Increasing temperatures and changing patterns of rain and snow have resulted in moving of trees and plants around the world toward Polar Regions and up mountain slopes.
- Wildlife/Ecosystem at Risk: Increased temperatures are changing weather and vegetation patterns across the globe, forcing animal species to migrate to new, cooler areas in order to survive. Because of the above two impacts, the vegetation shifts will affect much of the work the conservation community has accomplished to date, with the potential to permanently change the face of Conservancy preserves, local land trusts, and even our national parks. As plant communities try to adapt the changing climate by moving toward cooler areas, the animals that depend on them will be forced to move in order to survive.
- Ocean Acidification /Rising Seas level: As the Earth heats up, sea levels rise up because warmer water takes up more area than colder water, a process known as thermal expansion. Melting glaciers compound the problem by dumping even more fresh water into the oceans. Moreover, the increased concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has increased the absorption of CO2 in the ocean, which reduces the pH and makes the oceans more acidic. Which in turn affects the marine population.
- Increased Risk of Drought, Fire and Floods: Lands affected by drought are more vulnerable to flooding once rain falls due to increasing temperature. Rising sea level and untimely rain leads to floods in various areas. Moreover, hot temperatures and dry conditions also increase the likelihood of forest fires.
- Intensified Storms and Increased Storm Damages: Scientific research indicates that climate change will cause hurricanes and tropical storms to become more intense — lasting longer, unleashing stronger winds, and causing more damage to coastal ecosystems and communities. Cyclone Fani is the perfect example for the same.
- Illness and Disease: As temperatures increases, so do the risks of heat-related illness or vector born diseases and even death for the most vulnerable human populations.
- Economic Losses: Research says that if no action is taken to curtail the global carbon emissions, climate change could cost between 5 and 20 percent of the annual global gross domestic product.
- Agriculture Productivity/Food Security: Decreasing land for agriculture, unpredictable rainfall, floods, draughts and increasing temperatures, this all sums up to inly one thing i.e., lower agricultural productivity. Which will take the form of food insecurity.
A popular Chinese proverb says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now!” So, start today! Let’s start by planting one tree! Or a plant! Raise your hand for the cause! For our future and for the future of the new generation! After all it’s us who need to start replenishing the resources for a longer and healthy living.
Together we can #BeatPollution
In further articles we will discuss the various efforts internationally and in our country to counter the climate change. Below are to mention a few.
International Efforts to Counter Climate Change
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
- Kyoto Protocol
- REDD ++
- Declaring HFCs as greenhouse gases
India’s Effort to Counter Climate Change
- National action plan on climate change (NAPCC)
- National Solar Mission
- National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency
- National Mission on Sustainable Habitat
- National Water Mission
- National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem
- National Mission for a “Green India”
- National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture
- National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change
- National Action Programme to Combat Desertification