Climate Change and Sustainability
The Earth's climate has changed throughout history. In the last 650,000 years there have been several cycles of glacial and warm periods each lasting thousands or millions of years. Most of these climate changes are attributed to very small variations in earth’s orbit that changes the amount of solar energy our planet receives. It is understood that at present the Earth's climate is getting warmer which is referred to as ’Global Warming’. Earth's temperature has gone up about one degree Fahrenheit in the last 100 years. This is a very small change but small changes in earth's temperature can have big effects. Some effects are already happening such as melting of glaciers, rise in the level of oceans, prolonged droughts, excessive rain and floods, etc.
Burning fossil fuels emits gases into the atmosphere. Burning fossil fuel to provide energy, coupled with the effects of major transportation and deforestation causes a rapid increase in global temperatures. This can change the climate of a place.
Effects of climate change – Scientists had predicted in the past that the result from global climate change are now occurring, loss of sea ice, accelerated sea level rise and longer, more intense heat waves.
UNFCCC Process for Climate Change Adaptation, On17, May 2017: Policy makers, implementers, supporters and investors from all over the world met during the UNFCCC Bonn Climate Change Conference at the Technical Expert Meeting (TEM) on Adaptation to discuss ‘Integrating climate change adaptation with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
1. Temperatures will continue to rise - Experts agree that greenhouse gases which trap heat and prevent it from leaving the earth’s atmosphere are mostly responsible for the temperature spike.
2. Frost- free season (and growing season) will lengthen - it could actually have detrimental effects on the crops we grow. Warmer weather helps pests survive longer which can destroy crops. Rising temperatures are also expected to contribute to a shift in areas which are agriculturally most productive and the crops that grow there.
3. Changes in precipitation patterns - The contrast between wet and dry areas will increase globally. In other words, the wet areas will get wetter and the dry areas will get drier.
4. More droughts and heat waves - With rising temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns, heat waves and droughts are increasing in frequency and intensity.
5. Sea level rise - Scientists have determined that global sea level has been steadily rising since 1900 at a rate of at least 0.1 to 0.25 centimeter per year. Sea level can rise by two different mechanisms with respect to climate change.
6. Arctic likely to become ice-free - The Arctic Ocean is expected to become essentially ice free in summer before mid-century.
There are two main responses to climate change.
1. Mitigation - which addresses the root causes of climate change, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions
2. Adaptation - seeks to lower the risks posed by the consequences of climatic changes. Both approaches will be necessary to deal with the global changes that have already been set in motion.
It is important that we learn how to reduce climate change, and put them into practice now, before it is too late.
1. Cleaner alternative energy sources: One important way to fight climate change is to reduce our reliance on and usage of fossil fuels, and depend on alternative renewable and greener sources of energy such as wind energy, solar energy, water or hydropower, biomass, and geothermal energy.
2. Energy saving tips - we can adopt energy saving tips by investing in more expensive energy-saving appliances like the compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, Air-conditioners, refrigerators etc. Switching off our electrical appliances when not in use.
3. Green driving tips - The best strategy to reduce toxic gas emissions is definitely to reduce the use of automobiles. Use public transport, carpooling, use of electricity powered cars or two wheelers can be an alternative.
4. Reduce - Reuse - Recycle practices - Reducing, reusing and recycling helps us conserve resources and energy, and reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions produced thereby.
5. Re-forestation - The cleanest and most efficient remover of carbon dioxide from our atmosphere actually is nothing but green plants and trees. The rate at which we are cutting down our trees and forests to make way for human developments has greatly reduced the earth’s ability to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
6. Organic farming - Soils are an important sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide. Nevertheless, deforestation making way for conventional agriculture is increasingly depleting this sink. Sustainable and organic agriculture helps to counteract climate change by restoring soil organic matter content as well as reduce soil erosion and improve soil physical structure. Organic farming uses natural fertilizers and helps maintain crop yields.