Global Climate Change

Greenhouse gases are gases that trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere, contributing to the phenomenon known as climate change. There are three main greenhouse gases:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) – When we burn fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. This has caused the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere to increase over time. Trees absorb a large amount of CO2, but deforestation is increasing as we cut down more trees for resources and farming. This is releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
  • Methane – Natural processes, such as the decomposition of organic waste, produce methane. However, it is also generated by human activities such as burning coal, oil production and transportation. Methane is also produced by raising cattle, other agricultural activities and the decomposition of organic waste.
  • Water vapour – This is the most abundant greenhouse gas, but its concentration in the atmosphere depends on the temperature of the air.

Human activity has contributed greatly to the increase in both carbon dioxide and methane levels in the atmosphere. As a result, more energy from the Sun is being trapped and contributing to climate change.

Climate change refers to long-term changes in global temperature and weather patterns. The Earth’s climate has been changing since its formation around 4.5 billion years ago. However, many scientists believe that human activities have been the main cause of climate change over the past 200 years.

This is supported by evidence showing that the rise in carbon dioxide levels, caused by human activities, is positively correlated with global temperatures.

Effects of Climate Change

Climate change has had significant negative impacts on the environment, including: 

  • Rising sea levels
  • Change in rainfall patterns
  • Increased drought and famine
  • Loss of natural habitats and species

Rising sea levels

The ocean absorbs most of the excess heat trapped in the Earth due to global warming. However, rising temperatures increase the melting of polar ice sheets and glaciers, resulting in a rise in sea levels.

This can lead to flooding of coastal areas and islands, which can cause significant damage to infrastructure and natural habitats.

A melting iceberg

  • Coastal and island communities may need to invest in expensive barrier systems to reduce or prevent flooding

The ocean also absorbs carbon dioxide, but this process makes it more acidic, which can be harmful to marine life.

Changes in Rainfall Patterns

With a rise in global temperature, the ocean surfaces are warmer, which means that more moisture is entering the atmosphere. Therefore, rainfall and hurricanes in many areas will be much more intense, which can cause widespread destruction.

The intensity and frequency of storms are also increasing, severely affecting the population living in poverty and damaging many natural habitats. These more intense storms can cause flooding and landslides, and it can be very costly to restore nearby communities.

A flooded street with many people and cars in the area.

Increased drought and famine

A lack of rainfall in some regions is making water more scarce. As a result, these regions are experiencing severe droughts and a failure of crops to produce enough food. This can lead to famine and starvation.

Droughts can also cause deserts to expand and lead to dust storms.

A dry desert with a dust cloud present.

Loss of natural habitats and species

Climate change is a threat to the survival of many species on land and in the ocean. Extreme weather and higher temperatures will destroy many habitats, forcing many species to try to relocate. However, some species will be unable to adapt and may become extinct.

For example, rising temperatures can lead to more forest fires, further damaging habitats and endangering wildlife.

Wild fires in a forest with burnt trees and plants.

Evidence of Climate Change

Climate change is a topic that has been extensively studied and researched by scientists around the world. The overwhelming majority of scientific research suggests that human activity is the main cause of climate change. Some of the key pieces of evidence that support this conclusion are:

  • Rising temperatures – Global temperatures have been rising steadily over the past century. This is supported by multiple independent datasets, including surface temperature measurements and satellite data.
  • Increase in greenhouse gases – The levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have been increasing steadily over the past century. This is largely due to human activities such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation.

The scientific community has used peer review to establish the validity of climate change research. This process involves experts in the field sharing and critiquing each other’s work to ensure that it meets the highest standards. This prevents falsified or biased work from being accepted and provides the researcher with valuable feedback.

However, there are still differences of opinion in many aspects of climate change research. Climate change is complicated, so it is difficult to model and predict future temperatures. As a result, the media can present simplified or biased opinions and articles on climate change. They may also make claims based on only a part of the available evidence.

To make new evidence and research on climate change more accessible, it should be shared with as many people as possible. Also, scientists should work hard to present the research in a way that the general public can understand.

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