By Aafreen Rashid
‘‘We are the first generation to face the effects of climate change and
the last who can do something about it.”
limate change is the global phenomenon of climate transformation characterized by the changes in the usual climate of the planet (regarding temperature, precipitation and wind) that are especially caused by human activities. As a result of unbalancing the weather of Earth, the sustainability of the planet’s ecosystems is under threat, as well as the future of humankind and the stability of the global economy.
According to the US Geological Survey , global warming is just one aspect of climate change. In fact, they say that global warming refers to the rise in global temperatures due mainly to the increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. On the other hand, climate change refers to the increasing changes in the measures of climate over along period of time – including precipitation, temperature, and wind patterns. Climate may change in different ways over different time scales and at different geographical scales. Climate change is a natural process caused in response to continental drift, mountain building, change in earth’s orbit and volcanic eruptions.
When we talk about climate change, we are often talking about the increase in temperatures linked to industrial activities and in particular the greenhouse effect. Therefore, we sometimes speak of global warming, which is said to be “of anthropogenic origin”. Ultimately, the causes of global warming (at least at its current rate) are not natural but driven by the human economy and industries.
Being a natural process, climate change becomes a threat too, when accelerated due to the human activities. We, humans are responsible for accelerating climate change, thereby, making it a threat to the globe. Of many man-made causes of climate change, the 2 main causes are: Burning of fossil fuels and Deforestation. Burning of fossils fuels mainly vehicular emissions (CO2, H2S) release high amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, thereby increasing their concentration in the atmosphere, due to which earth heats more rapidly. Deforestation, which is mainly due to urbanization, further accelerates this process as trees are indeed the saviors of life and their cutting and felling results in causing more burden on earth and makes climate change more intense process.
Climate change causes more frequent and intense droughts, floods, heat waves, rising sea levels, melting glaciers and warming oceans can directly harm animals, destroy their habitat, and wreak havoc on peoples’ livelihoods and communities. Declining water supplies, reduced agricultural yields, health impacts in cities due to heat, and flooding and erosion are additional concerns. In a nutshell, climate change can cause a major havoc on earth either in ruining the natural habitats of living organisms or the living organisms themselves.
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The regulating capacity of oceans is also being affected by an increase in temperatures. If global temperatures increase dramatically, ocean levels will not only increase – they will also be facing the ecological challenges of
oceanic acidification and deoxygenation. At the same time, forest areas (e.g. Amazon rainforest), fragile ecosystems (e.g. coral reefs) and biodiversity (e.g. corals, insects and mammals) are also under threat.
With the increase in temperatures in some countries, especially in Equatorial regions, the flow of climate refugees is changing and increasing , putting pressure in other countries to host them, help them strive and overcome political barriers. The reasons for this move have to do with natural resources, such as drinking water, that are getting more limited and many crops and livestock that are unlikely to survive (affecting locals but also the global economy of the several industries that rely on raw materials) in specific locations because of the temperature being too hot or too dry, too cold or too wet.
Finally, businesses are also likely to be affected by climate change. Indeed, in a context where the climate is changing, companies need to be aware of the risks that they may face and be prepared to deal with them by
developing CSR strategies that evaluate the i mpacts they may suffer. Events such as damaged crops, the loss of infrastructures, unexpected changes in market stocks, investors that ask for sustainability reports and the growing expectations of society for business to be transparent are variables to keep an eye on.
Climate change is certainly a problem!
Humans have caused major climate changes to happen already, and we have set in motion more changes still. Even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, global warming would continue to happen for at least several more decades, if not centuries. That’s because it takes a while for the planet (for example, the oceans) to respond, and because carbon dioxide – the predominant heat-trapping gas – lingers in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. There is a time lag between what we do and when we feel it.
But it may not be too late to avoid or limit some of the worst effects of climate change. Responding to climate change will involve a two-tier approach: 1) “Mitigation” – reducing the flow of greenhouse gases into the
atmosphere; and 2) “Adaptation” – learning to live with, and adapt to, the climate change that has already been set in motion. The key question is: what will our emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants be in the
years to come? Recycling and driving more fuel-efficient cars are examples of important behavioral change that will help, but they will not be enough. Because climate change is a truly global, complex problem with economic,
social, political and moral ramifications, the solution will require both a globally-coordinated response (such as international policies and agreements between countries, a push to cleaner forms of energy) and local efforts on the city- and regional-level (for example, public transport upgrades, energy efficiency improvements, sustainable city planning, etc.). It’s up to us what happens next.
“In a world of more than 7 billion people, each of us is a drop in the
bucket. But with enough drops, we can fill the bucket.”
Author is pursuing IG Environmental Science from Cluster University,
Srinagar. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org