The real effects of climate change

We frequently hear about climate change. Politicians, economists, environmentalists speak about it… But what do we really know about the subject? Is everything that is said true?

Is this an exaggeration, as some suppose, or are we really severely affecting the climate and consequently the environment? What are the repercussions of other issues such as global warming or the greenhouse effect? How far does personal responsibility for damage go?

Knowing better about the subject can help us to act as inhabitants, but “conscious inhabitants”, of the Earth.

Two concepts that we must understand

What is climate change?

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, adopted in 1992 and in force since 1994, defines the concept. The document indicates how the change that occurs in climate due to human activity.

This activity alters, directly or indirectly, the composition of the atmosphere, in turn altering the climate and adding to the variability that it undergoes under natural conditions. In other words, the climate itself undergoes changes over time due to natural factors, but these are being enhanced by human activity.

One of the main human factors of change in the planet’s global climate is the excessive production of greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, ozone, methane, chlorofluorocarbons are some gases produced by human activity, which trap a large proportion of the terrestrial infrared radiation.

These are produced mainly by the use of fossil fuels and for the extensive agricultural and livestock practices. However, the main greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is water vapor.

The increasing concentrations of these gases modify the natural greenhouse effect and, consequently, are expected temperature rises between 1.5 and 5.5 ° C in the next 50 years.

Seemingly small changes, but with potentially catastrophic consequences for the planet’s climate. These predictions were established by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of about 3,000 experts on climate-related issues, convened by the United Nations.

And so what is the greenhouse effect?

As we can see, the greenhouse effect is not a factor in itself harmful to the climate and the environment. In fact, so-called greenhouse gases are essential for life to occur on Earth. They are those that allow to maintain the adequate temperature for life to occur, as they prevent incident solar heat from being lost.

That is, greenhouse gases must be produced naturally, but in certain concentrations. When they exceed these values, very high temperatures are produced that modify the climate producing the so-called global warming.

Such global warming is actually the change taking place in the climate, with catastrophic consequences for all living species, including humans.

The gradual increase in temperatures It has affected not only the atmospheric temperature, but the temperature of the oceans. The consequences? Sea level rise, changes in the pattern and amount of rainfall, and expansion of subtropical deserts.

Effect of climate change: real and obvious examples

Melting glaciers

Glaciers worldwide have started a melting process that is considered to reach 36% in the short term, according to an article published in the journal Nature Climate Change. And the worst of the news is that the current thaw is due to the increase in greenhouse gases that occurred in pre-industrial times.

In other words, the increase in the concentration of these gases produced during the recent industrial era can no longer be stopped. According to the most conservative calculations, the reductions that can be achieved in the future will only stop the thaw from the year 2100. And this if we manage to comply with the climate agreements …

“Atmospheric apocalypse” in Beijing

During 2013, the city of Beijing suffered one of the worst episodes of atmospheric pollution observed globally. Although the high emission of gases at the local level was pointed out as the cause of the fact, a study published in the journal Science points to another cause: global climate change.

In other words, it was not local conditions that caused the contamination event. Apparently, it was due to the reduction of Arctic ice, with increased snowfall in the Eurasian region, which caused a lack of air circulation in eastern China. Large-scale disturbances from global climate change had significant local impacts.

Destructive fires, torrential rains, waves of cold and heat

Who does not remember the fires in Greece and California that left hundreds of deaths and incalculable material losses? Or the totally surprising fires that occurred in Sweden? High temperatures, strong winds and intense droughts were the reasons for these catastrophes, which will have consequences. The destruction of forests will act like a boomerang, as forest ecosystems are one of the most important systems for damping climate change.

On the other hand, torrential rains, typhoons and hurricanes of increasing intensity, waves of cold or heat worldwide, or snow in the desert are increasingly common phenomena. Greater frequency and changes in their periodicity characterize them. And everything points to climate change as the origin of all of them.

What can we do?

As inhabitants of this “one planet”, which belongs to all of us, knowing about the real effects of climate change is a responsibility that we cannot avoid. Acting accordingly to reduce the damage we are causing can help mitigate and perhaps reverse the consequences we see. For this year 2019 a new summit on the climate is called that will try to promote policies to stop climate change.

We are still on time, but it will require the effort of all sectors of society. If we don’t do it now, we will eventually destroy Earth and probably become extinct. But the Earth will be reborn, without us and with new forms of life, because that is its nature …

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