Even if we do our best and switch to green energy by tomorrow, in the upcoming years the effects of Climate Change will drastically change our environment. Let’s see what is the current state of Global Warming and what can be done to reduce the harm. Lets see in a few words what is climate change.
Is the current Climate Change similar to the Ice Age but with an opposite effect?
Over the last 40000 years the climate of our planet has been changing naturally, that is to say, without human influence. There have been ice ages and warm periods that spanned for centuries and sometimes millenniums. One of the ice ages helped prehistoric tribes to reach the Americas using the glaciers that connected Asia to the Americas and populate them. These people later became the Native Americans. Warmer periods, such as the one known as the Roman Warm Period, helped humans to conquer and control empires that were otherwise climatically too diverse to be controlled without modern technologies and science.
However, the climate change that is raging on the planet now has nothing to do with these climate variabilities. While ice ages and warm periods were the results of volcanic activity, movement of tectonic plates, and other natural phenomena, the current climate change is caused by human activity.
What is the main force that drives Climate Change?
As we know, currently fossil fuels are the main source of energy worldwide. All of the fossil fuels that create energy from burning, release a gas known as carbon dioxide (CO2). This gas, by the way, according to paleontologists, was one of the reasons the dinosaurs went extinct millions of years ago. What CO2 does, is that it “traps” the heat on the planet, as if it has been wrapped in a “blanket”. When the CO2 levels were optimal for us, most of the warmth from the Sun had the opportunity to escape the planet and keep the climate stable for our existence. However, now this “blanket”, made up of pollution, is getting thicker and making it hard for the heat to escape. You can see here what is carbon emmision and how we can deal with it.
What are the most common misconceptions about Climate Change?
One of the more common misconceptions about climate change is that it’s going to get hotter everywhere and at the same time. “If it’s getting hotter, then why is it snowing today here?”,- ask the people who associate climate change with increased heat. Meanwhile, such cases can be considered not only normal for the current state of global warming, but also a direct result of the latter. The process is ongoing, and, according to the latest data, accelerating chaotically and rapidly. So weather anomalies like tornadoes in mountainous regions or snow in desert areas are a “normal” phenomenon in the current phase of climate change.
Some think that people can “run away” from the results of climate change or that those who live in colder climate zones can “benefit” from the global catastrophe we’re heading towards. The thing is, that, even if these colder and not very hospitable climate zones become more comfortable for humans, still, our current economic system cannot handle the problems that will come with hundreds of millions of “climate refugees”. According to the World Bank, over 216 million people will be forced to leave their home countries by 2050 because of climate change. For comparison, currently there are only 80 million displaced people in the world, of which only 20 million are refugees. You can observe the economic situation in countries affected by the current refugee crisis and multiply it 10 times to understand the possible outcome.
Can we adapt to Climate Change?
To have at least an approximate idea of how significant the problems we may face in the next 10 years are going to be, let’s see the situation in the Horn of Africa. In a series of devastative droughts that happened there as a result of climate change, nearly 70% of livestock have died in Somaliland, which resulted in 150 thousand families being displaced from their hometowns in the 2010s. But this was only the beginning. Soon life in towns that were affected by climate change gradually became unbearable for another 2.9 million people, who also had to be displaced and scattered across more hospitable areas of the country by 2021. Currently, there are approximately 12 million people affected by climate change in countries like Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and Eritrea. And these are only the first consequences of climate change, according to the latest U.N. Climate Report, published during the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, in the next 30 years will get worse and accelerate all over the world, no matter what measures humankind takes.
By the way, only 3 years before that, in 2018 an intergovernmental group of experts was telling us that we have only 12 years to avoid a global climate catastrophe that will affect all humankind. Some people, who are skeptical on the matter, say that this “proves that climate change is fake news and everything is alright”. This is another misconception. The changes in prognoses are not a result of the lack of knowledge. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, the more data we’re able to analyze, the more accurate the prognoses become. Hence, in 2021 we had more analyzed data, more scientific reports, and a better understanding of the situation in general. That’s why the more pessimistic prognosis is alarming and not an attempt to bring vagueness into the definitions.
In 2018, the main idea of the report was that if we keep the current scale of pollution, the increase of the average temperature on Earth will inevitably get beyond 2°C, the result of which will be irreversible for humanity. In 2021 the U.N. report gave a more grim prognosis: we’re beyond the point where we’re able to avoid raising the temperature below 1.5 degrees and the chances are high that we will go beyond 2°C by the second half of the century, no matter how hard we try.
What can we do to minimize the effects of Climate Change?
One of the most important things is to reach Carbon Neutrality. This means keeping the balance between emitting CO2 and absorbing it. Up until the last couple of years, politicians and corporations were popularizing the concept of individual carbon footprints. This policy was ineffectively trying to achieve carbon neutrality by making people consume fewer products that harm the environment. While it is true that we should take care of our environment and be responsible for it, according to the Guardian, 71% of global carbon emissions come from only 100 companies. This means that no matter how low the carbon footprint of each consumer is, the main part of the reduction of carbon emissions is in the hands of these companies. So the best any of us can do is to demand from these companies to reduce their emissions and invest in technology that’ll make their product carbon neutral. Another thing we can do is to demand from our governments to use the force of law to make the leading carbon emitters reduce the pollution they cause. One way or another, the results of climate change are starting to be noticeable all over the planet and it is the duty and responsibility of each of us to raise awareness and inspire others to act on the matter.