We’ve all heard of climate change and how it’s dramatically affecting our planet today, but some of you may not know how or why, or believe that it’s happening at all. I’d like to take the space of this thread to show why climate change is happening, how it’s dramatically affecting our planet, and why it needs to stop being ignored. If you don’t believe in climate change, keep an open mind and read through all the sources I provided. The evidence will be laid out clearly on this thread without my opinion included.
Climate Change Itself:
Simply put, climate change is an abnormal weather pattern found in any part of the world. Whether it’s getting hotter than normal, raining much more frequently, or just a flux in temperature in general. This is what climate change is on a place to place basis, however, climate change can also refer to the global temperature/. Globally, the definition isn’t much different. Again, it’s a change in weather pattern expectancy; this could be the lack of snow in an area snow is expected, excessive rain in a desert that’s been dry for hundreds of years, etc. Though it’s important to keep in mind that a heavy thunderstorm, in a desert, one time, isn’t climate change. The weather can and does change frequently, but climate takes much greater expanses of time to change the pattern of weather.
Sources of Climate Change:
Let me start off by saying that climate change isn’t solely caused by human intervention. The climate can and does change in a multitude of ways from a number of sources. Though our influence, as a species, aids in drastically changing the climate much faster than natural sources. Below is a list of climate change sources separated between natural and unnatural intervention.
- The fluctuating distance between the Sun and the Earth
- The amount of energy the Sun is producing
- Ocean currents
- Volcanic activity
- Tectonic plate movement
- The Earth’s tilt
- Reflectivity of the Earth’s atmosphere
- Shifts in the Green House Effect
Man Made Sources:
- The fluctuating distance between the Sun and the Earth
- Agricultural practices
- Continued increase in population
- Fossil fuel drilling and use
- Power Plants
Keep in mind, these are just a few sources for both natural and man made climate change. You can check my sources provided or research on your own to learn more.
The Greenhouse Effect:
Before I can get into how Man greatly influences the climate we have to talk about the Greenhouse Effect. When the the energy produced from the Sun reaches the Earth’s atmosphere it can do one of two things: absorb it or reject it back into space. If the planet absorbs the energy provided by the Sun it can’t contain it all, so it releases some of that energy back into the atmosphere as heat. Then, greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane, and even water vapor absorb that energy and diffuse it back into our atmosphere in all different directions. This prevents the loss of heat from the Earth and acts like a shield entrapping more energy (heat) in our atmosphere. Whenever you hear about the Greenhouse Effect, this is what they’re referring to.
How Man Influences This Process:
Unfortunately, much of what we, as a species, do affects the amount of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. To use an analogy: when you get cold because of a thin blanket you usually trade it out for a thicker one to warm you up. In effect, our ever expanding list of things we do is making this originally thin blanket much thicker. Essential things that you wouldn’t think twice about produce a lot of these heat trapping gases; for example, electricity production, farming, transportation, Industry, and so on. In 2015 we produced a lot of these gases, and the rate of production keeps climbing.
Now, we’re not all producing these gases equally by country. China and the United States are the two biggest produces of these gases followed by India, the EU, and Russia. The graphic below doesn’t include land changes either.
Human activity alone produces the equivalent of 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year, and this number keeps growing as our species continues to expand; furthermore, not to mention, this is just the biggest kind of gas produced. Other gases, like the few I mentioned above, produce and contribute to the same effect. Though these gases are not the only way we contribute to the rapid change of our climate.
The EPA simplifies the effect of CO2 emission by using an analogy:
Other Man Made Climate Contributors:
Another big contributor is black carbon, otherwise known as aerosol. Though black carbon isn’t a gas, it’s a solid particle that affects the climate in a different manner. The EPA explains it as follows:
“Unlike GHGs, BC can directly absorb incoming and reflected sunlight in addition to absorbing infrared radiation. BC can also be deposited on snow and ice, darkening the surface and thereby increasing the snow’s absorption of sunlight and accelerating melt
Sulfates, organic carbon, and other aerosols can cause cooling by reflecting sunlight.
Warming and cooling aerosols can interact with clouds, changing a number of cloud attributes such as their formation, dissipation, reflectivity, and precipitation rates. Clouds can contribute both to cooling, by reflecting sunlight, and warming, by trapping outgoing heat.”
Black Carbon Info Graphic (Warning, Large):
Observable Climate Effects:
There are many observable effects of man made (rapidly induced) climate change, so I obviously won’t be able to post every single effect here, but I will post the most extreme effect in order to make my point apparent.
Man made climate change can no longer be reduced by simply calling it a “myth.” There is a scientific consensus that climate change is real and it’s happening as we speak. Now, obviously, this thread is a brief, brief overview of what climate change is and how it affects our planet. So, if you’re interested in learning more about climate change please defer to my sources below. I’ll leave you with his statement from the International Academies.
International Academies: Joint Statement:
“Climate change is real. There will always be uncertainty in understanding a system as complex as the world’s climate. However there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring. The evidence comes from direct measurements of rising surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures and from phenomena such as increases in average global sea levels, retreating glaciers, and changes to many physical and biological systems. It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities (IPCC 2001).” (2005, 11 international science academies)
List of Sources for Further Reading: