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Climate change has always existed throughout the history of the world. However, the increase in global temperatures we have witnessed for the last 150 years is now at an abnormal level due to human-induced activities. Climate change, the effects of which are increasing day by day, is dragging life on Earth towards the 6th extinction. However, it is in our hands to minimize the effects of the destruction caused and to be caused by this major change and to improve our common future.
In this article, we examine climate change from the moment it took the stage of history, explain how humanity played a role in changing the climate and living life on Earth, and take a look at its current effects on the planet.
Things to Know About Climate Change
- What Is Global Climate Change?
- Causes of Global Climate Change: Greenhouse Effect
- How Humanity Is Changing the Climate?
- Consequences of Climate Change
- What Can We Do to Say 'Stop' to Climate Change?
What Is Global Climate Change?
Climate change refers to a large-scale, long-term change in the planet's weather patterns and average temperatures.
Through years of observation, theory development, and model building, scientists have developed an understanding of Earth's climate system. Today, we are confident that climate change is occurring and that it is the result of greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.
This result refers to the long-term change in the average weather patterns around the world. With humanity contributing to the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the air since the mid-1800s, global temperatures have risen, causing long-term changes in the climate.
The effects of the global climate crisis are felt today and will increasingly continue in the future. Actions to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions are sufficient to help limit changes in the climate system.
Causes of Global Climate Change: Greenhouse Effect
Life on Earth exists thanks to a combination of three factors: our distance from the Sun, the chemical composition of the atmosphere, and the existence of the water cycle. In particular, the atmosphere ensures that our planet has a climate suitable for sustaining life, thanks to the natural greenhouse effect. (Source)
When the sun's rays reach the Earth's surface, they are partially absorbed, and the rest is reflected outside. These rays would scatter into space without the presence of an atmosphere. Instead, most are trapped by the gases in the atmosphere, called greenhouse gases because of the effect they produce, and are diverted back to Earth.
This captured heat is directly added to the heat absorbed from the Sun's rays. It goes without saying that without the natural greenhouse effect, the average temperature on the planet would be around -18°C instead of the current average of around 15°C.
Although the greenhouse effect may sound very advantageous, we, as humanity, have succeeded in turning it into a disadvantage. But how?
How Humanity Is Changing Climate?
The Industrial Revolution coincided with the mid 1800s, when people began to burn fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas as fuel. 11,000 years before this period, the worldwide average temperature was stable at around 14°C.
Burning fossil fuels produces energy, but also releases greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous monoxide into the air. Over time, large amounts of these gases have accumulated in the atmosphere.
After entering the atmosphere, greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide form a blanket-like structure around the planet. This blanket traps heat from the sun and causes the earth to warm up. We call this the “greenhouse effect”.
The greenhouse effect was observed and noticed until the 1980s. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established in 1988 to provide information to governments on tackling the climate crisis.
In its latest reports, the IPCC states that human activity is unquestionably the cause of the climate crisis.
Consequences of Climate Change
Time is divided by geologists according to marked changes in the Earth's condition. Recent global environmental changes suggest that Earth may have entered a new human-dominated geological era, the Anthropocene.
We live in a time that many people refer to as the Anthropocene. Man has become the most influential species on the planet, and with global warming has caused many changes in the soil, environment, water, organisms and atmosphere. (Source)
Some of the visible effects of these changes are as follows:
- Rising sea levels with decreasing glaciation
- Rising sea levels and increased flooding in coastal areas
- Sea life begins to disappear with ocean acidification
- Increase in extreme weather events such as forest fires
- Decrease in agriculture and agriculture with the decrease of precipitation, decrease in crop yield
- Wars for food and resources & climate migrations
What Can We Do to Say 'Stop' to Climate Change?
The destruction caused and will cause by climate change means code red for humanity. But there is still time. The quickest way to address the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is to stop adding more.
From the buildings we live in, to the electricity and heat we produce for our industry, to the oil we burn to power our cars, trucks and planes; Many vital parts of our economy emit large amounts of greenhouse gases. Yet there are many ways to reduce the carbon from these sectors.
We can replace high-emission fuels such as coal, oil and gas with nearly “carbon-free”, renewable energy alternatives such as solar and wind power. We can also update our buildings and infrastructure so we spend less energy building and using them.
The IPCC, the world's leading scientific organization for assessing climate change, warns that global greenhouse gas emissions must reach their peak by 2025 at the latest and, if limited, reduce by 43% by 2030.
Again, according to the IPCC, we have no opportunity to prevent the Earth's average temperature from rising by 1.5°C by 2030. But if we cut our carbon emissions by about half by 2030 and don't emit more carbon emissions than the planet can absorb each year by 2050, we can keep that temperature rise steady at 1.5°C in 2030. (1)