Climate Change for Rookies
Let's talk about climate change.
Over the past few years our Instagram feed and Facebook timelines have been flooded with quick facts about the Earths climate and the fated future that is approaching if we don't change our actions. I hear a lot about global warming and sea levels rising, but I don't know what I can do to help and I'm assuming many of you are in the same boat. In this article I will familiarize you with the concept of climate change, effects climate change has had on the environment, what is currently being done, and what we can do to make a difference!
What is Climate Change?
According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), climate change is "a change in the usual weather found in place". It is important to note that climate takes hundreds of years to change, while weather can change within a few hours. (That's one reason why it's such a big deal!). Research has found that humans play a significant role towards changing the Earths climate and the increase in number of natural disasters. The past decade has been found to be the hottest on record and was mainly caused by an increase in greenhouse gas emissions. These emissions are a byproduct of human behaviors including burning burning fossils fuels for heat, electricity, agriculture, etc. It is important because not only does a regulated climate effect the environment, it also has an impact on the immediate health of the public and the economy. Click here to read more about human impact on climate.
Effects of Climate Change on the Environment
In the big headlines and gossip by word of mouth, we hear mostly about the rise in levels of CO2 emissions and of sea levels, but what does this actually mean for our environment?
CO2 emissions are measuring at an all time high at about 414.71 parts per million since 2021. These levels have been rising since the 1950s, but it becomes concerning when we think about the speed at which they are increasing and not stopping. In 1960 CO2 levels were rising at about 3 million tons of carbon each year, whereas by 2010 they were rising at about 9.5 billion tons each year.
What changed? Industrialization.
As humans we put more carbon dioxide into the air faster than natural processes can remove it. As for the environment this means higher temperatures and more pollution. Read more about the effects of rising CO2 levels here.
This rise in greenhouse gas emissions has also caused a rise in sea levels (making them the highest ever in human history). In 2020 the global mean sea level was 3.6 inches higher than the average in 1993. This is caused mainly by the melting of mountain glaciers and icecaps (also taking away the homes of many wildlife - but that's for another time). According to the World Glacier Monitoring Services about 26 inches of liquid water has been added to the oceans due to melted glaciers and ice caps over the past 40 years. This is detrimental to the environment because it leads to flooding, shoreline erosion, hazardous storms, and can pose a threat to infrastructure necessary for local jobs. Read more about the effects of rising sea levels here.
What has been done
One example of what is in place to help reduce our carbon footprint is Race to Zero. "Race to Zero is a global campaign rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions, investors for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks, inclusive sustainable growth." Since June 2020 when Race to Zero was first launched there has been a great response to this goal of a zero carbon world. 73% of global emissions are now covered by a net zero goal and about 15% of the global economy are now covered by Race to Zero corporate commitments! This is a huge deal. As people begin to work together through policy making and a global response there is light at the end of the tunnel for minimizing climate change due to carbon emissions. If you're interested in learning more about Race to Zero campaign click here.
What we can do
As one person you still have the ability to make an impact! I'll leave some helpful recommendations here as to what you can change or continue doing! I encourage you to look in to it. To be fair we are talking about our Earth, out home! It is important! But to get you started here are some small steps you can take...
- Join the Race to Zero campaign
- Power your home with renewable energy
- Reduce water waste
- Start composting!
- Do your research
and the list goes on. The world is wide (and so is the web) and full of information on ways to help reduce your carbon footprint. Hope you enjoyed - come back soon :)
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