Why Is Climate Change Happening?

Extensive drought in sub-Saharan Africa and deadly tropical storms in the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific are only two examples of the devastation caused by severe weather events worsened by climate change. In 2021, extreme heatwaves and wildfires will wreak havoc throughout the globe, from Canada to Pakistan to Greece and Siberia. More than a million people in Madagascar are on the verge of starvation as a result of a lengthy and harsh drought, which has been labelled the world’s first “climate change-induced famine.”

Climate change is a human rights concern because of the damage it is inflicting and will continue to bring to humans, despite the fact that we comprehend it primarily via its effects on the natural world. Inequalities will be exacerbated and exacerbated by this. And the damage it does will only intensify in the future, causing havoc for the present and future generations alike. When governments refuse to act on climate change despite overwhelming scientific data, it might be seen as the worst intergenerational human rights violation ever committed.

What Is Climate Change?

Long-term changes in temperature and weather patterns are referred to as climate change. Changes in the solar cycle, for example, might explain some of these adjustments. As a result of the combustion of oil, coal, and gas, human activity has been the primary engine behind climate change since around the 18th century.

A blanket of greenhouse gases is formed when fossil fuels are burned, trapping heat from the sun and causing temperatures to increase. Carbon dioxide and methane are two examples of the emissions of greenhouse gases that are contributing to the current state of the climate. These are the byproducts of, say, using gasoline or coal to heat a building. Destruction of farmland and woodland may also result in carbon dioxide emissions. Methane emissions from waste landfills are a big problem. Among the most significant sources of pollution are transportation, buildings, agriculture, and the usage of energy.

What Causes Climate Change?

Since the planet was created 4.5 billion years ago, the Earth’s climate has evolved. Until recently, these changes have been the result of natural causes. Volcanic eruptions, variations in the Earth’s orbit, and alterations in the Earth’s crust all have an impact on the climate (known as plate tectonics).

The Earth has gone through a sequence of ice ages during the last one million years, with colder periods (glacials) and warmer ones (interglacials). The Earth’s orbit around the sun causes glacial and interglacial periods to occur around every 100,000 years. Earth has had a steady temperature for the previous several thousand years.

Temperature rise has been much quicker since industrialization began in the 1800s. As a result of our increased use of fossil fuels and shifts in land use, we are now the primary driver of climate change.

  • Global Warming

A worldwide average temperature rise of 1.1°C over pre-industrial levels occurred in 2019, making it the hottest decade on record. There is now a 0.2°C increase in human-induced global warming per decade. Natural and human health and well-being are negatively impacted by a rise of 2°C compared to pre-industrial periods, with a substantially increased likelihood of harmful and maybe catastrophic changes within the global environment. So, the world community has agreed to keep warming far below 2°C and work to maintain it at or below 1.5°C as a result of this.

  • Effects Of a Greenhouse Gas on The Environment

Heat is prevented from escaping into space by certain gases in Earth’s atmosphere. Greenhouse gases are the term we use to describe these pollutants. A warming blanket known as the ‘greenhouse effect’ is created by these gases. Humans and nature both contribute to the buildup of greenhouse gases. All of these gases are found in abundance in the Earth’s atmosphere. Another example of a human-made chemical is chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

Short-wave radiation emitted by the sun is absorbed by Earth’s atmosphere and reaches the surface. Most of this energy is absorbed by the Earth, which emits longer-wavelength infrared radiation in response. Infrared radiation is absorbed by greenhouse gases rather than being sent into the atmosphere. The planet’s surface heats up as a result of the radiation emitted by the atmosphere, which radiates out in all directions. The term “greenhouse effect” refers to this phenomenon.

Our survival is dependent on the greenhouse effect. As a result, the Earth would be 30 degrees cooler than it is now if greenhouse gases were not there. We could not exist if it were not for the warming impact caused by greenhouse gases. On the other hand, since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, humans have been pumping more and more heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The greenhouse effect is causing the Earth to rise in temperature at an accelerated pace, rather than maintaining it at a steady temperature. The enhanced greenhouse effect (GHE) is the primary contributor to climate change.

  • Human Causes of Climate Change

People change the climate by putting carbon dioxide and other gases that trap heat in the air into the atmosphere. It has been at least 2 million years since carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have been this high. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by 40% during the last two centuries. There are a lot of ways we make greenhouse gases:

  • Combustion of fossil fuels 

Carbon dioxide has been ‘locked up’ in the Earth for thousands of years in fossil fuels like oil, gas, and coal. We emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when we remove things off the land and burn them.

  • Deforestation 

Forests act as natural carbon sinks, absorbing and storing excess atmospheric CO2. Because there are fewer trees to absorb carbon dioxide, its concentration rises faster as a result of their removal. Furthermore, when trees are burned, the carbon they contain is released into the atmosphere.

  • Agriculture 

Greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere when crops are grown, as well as when animals are reared for meat and milk. An excellent example of animal-produced greenhouse gas is methane, which has a global warming potential 30 times greater than carbon dioxide. Fertilizer nitrous oxide is roughly 300 times stronger than carbon dioxide, making it 10 times worse.

  • Cement 

Cement production also contributes to global warming, resulting in 2% of our total CO2 emissions.

Natural Processes

Changes in the Earth’s climate are constantly influenced by natural processes, which explains why there was no industrial revolution previous to that in the 1700s. However, natural processes alone cannot account for the most recent climatic shifts.

  • Variations in the Orbit and Rotation of the Earth

Past temperature shifts have been caused by changes in the Earth’s orbit and its axis of rotation. Earth’s orbital variations seem to have a major role in the occurrence of extended periods of cold temps (ice ages) and brief periods of higher temperatures (interglacial periods) throughout prior cycles of ice ages. The average global temperature during the previous glacial epoch (or ice age) was 11°F lower than it is now. However, at the hottest part of the previous interglacial period, the average temperature of the whole planet was at most 4 degrees Fahrenheit higher than it is now.

  • Changes to Solar Activity

It is possible that variations in solar energy production will alter the amount of sunshine that reaches the planet’s surface. Solar fluctuations may have an impact on the Earth’s temperature, although they haven’t had a significant impact on recent climate changes. Since 1978, satellites have been monitoring the quantity of solar energy that the Earth gets. Despite the rise in global surface temperatures, these observations demonstrate no increase in the sun’s power.

  • Reflective properties of the Earth

According to the planet’s surface and atmosphere, it may either absorb or reflect sunlight. Oceans, woods, and dirt are all examples of dark objects and surfaces that absorb more sunlight. Snow and clouds, both of which are white, are examples of surfaces and things that are known to reflect sunlight. The Earth absorbs around 70% of the sunlight it receives. Many factors have contributed to climate change throughout time via natural processes, such as changes in the Earth’s surface.