Atmospheric greenhouse gases are crucial; an excess of those aren’t. The direct effect of the latter: climate change- a phenomenon referring to seasonal changes over a long period of time. The history of the discovery of climate change began when natural changes in paleoclimate were first suspected and the natural greenhouse effect first identified. It was later found out that anthropogenic emission of greenhouse gases could also be a major contributor to the climatic misbalance. What used to be easily considered a hoax, has been presenting growing evidence, for some time now. Yet, some people ignore its existence. Climate change has shown, through its repercussions to be one of the foreboding threats for planet Earth, but what are we doing to mitigate this persistent issue?
Sources and Importance
Greenhouse gases form a layer which traps heat and disperse the excess.This ensures an optimum temperature conducive to life. These gases( Water vapour, Carbon dioxide, Methane) emitted from natural processes are adequate to maintain this delicate balance. Nonetheless, human activity is currently generating an excessive amount of greenhouse gases which leads to massive heat accumulation. Primarily, transportation accounts for nearly 28.5 % of 2016 greenhouse gas emissions and thus, it occupies the largest share of pollution worldwide. Up next, is electricity production. With the massive burning of fossil fuels like oil, natural gas and coal, key gases such as carbon dioxide are being produced. Other problems like deforestation exacerbate the situation. In short, there is a rapid increase in carbon dioxide, with an even more speedy reduction in its sinks.
A more potent, but less abundant greenhouse gas, methane, enters the atmosphere from leaks from natural gas systems or raising of livestock. Withal, fossil fuel exploration, fermentation in rice fields, coal mines or abandoned oil and gas wells are also to be inculpated. Ultimately, chlorofluorocarbons(CFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons(HFCs), both widely responsible for the depletion of the ozone layer, are extensively used in industrial applications and home appliances. In spite of several regulations, Minnesota has an estimated 12 million residential appliances and car air conditioners that contain a total of about 13,000 tons of CFCs, HCFCs and HFCs, according to a study. This proves the point that even though most scientists are careful not to state human influence as an absolute certainty, the corroboration is now extremely strong.
Brief history of climate change
Truthfully,noone really knows when it all started. In fact, the earliest documented study about fluctuations in weather patterns had been carried out in 300 B.C. There have been various Renaissance scholars who have detailed how human activities such as irrigation, animal grazing and deforestation had potentially modified the weather. Howbeit, in the 19th century, since no long-term changes in the weather were recorded in spite of the Industrial Revolution, scientific opinion had diverged from the fact that humans could influence the climate.
This all changed in the late 1890s when the first calculations of human-induced climate change occurred. Definite results were gained when Swedish scientist, Svante Arrhenius, became the first person to quantify carbon dioxide’s active role in warming the planet. He was thus the one who acknowledged the greenhouse effect for the first time. He went on to surmise that the burning of coal would cause a “noticeable increase” in carbon levels over centuries. He also simulated the doubling of the noxious gas, a possible situation now; inferring that it would raise the world’s temperature by 5-6 degrees. His study caused furor and is involved in arguments concerning climate change even today. Using the findings of Arrhenius, many experiments were carried out by succeeding researchers and numerous other theories. These are now the underpinning for our understanding of climate change.
Climate Change- Hoax or Reality?
Earth is the hottest it has ever been. Scientific evidence for warming of our climate system is unequivocal. Yet, even some famous people believe that it is a hoax. Others believe that it does exist, but not to the extent that environmentalists affirm. Those who turn a blind eye to its existence, have a few key reasons for their belief. Propagandists of global warming saw their scam coming apart, and so they began to call it Climate Change. New name, same game!
One of the reasons for this denial is due to personal experiences. Those who live in the American Midwest might point out that they still have ice and snow in the winters. As the weathers they witness remain similar, they assume that climate change can’t exist. Otherwise, it would have changed their experiences. Opponents may point out that the seasons did change in recent years, noticing milder winters and an earlier offset of summer which feels hotter and more humid.
According to the Huffington Post, President Donald Trump told the public that he did not believe in climate change because he does not see any real evidence. That comment gained notoriety.Even more so when the American President pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement, a pact signed by several countries to adopt more environment-friendly practices. Though there is evidence out there, sceptics refuse to look at it. If one of the world’s supposedly greatest influencers opposes climate change, it is of no doubt that millions will follow suit.
The possibility of climatic changes being purposefully hidden to benefit the greater powers cannot either be discarded.The environment is being sacrificed in the pursuit of profit! A recent case in point would be the Dakota Access Pipeline. Although the permits were initially withdrawn due to protests, Trump’s administration has reinstated the project. The pipeline’s construction would mean a big win for the fossil fuel industries, while exacerbating climate change. Apparently, Trump’s administration believes strongly in anti-climate change science. In 2012, Donald Trump tweeted, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.” Some believe that any proof of its existence is a type of fake science,a lie engineered to alter public opinions.
Climate change, though regarded as a hoax by some, is a very much present phenomenon.One of the first things that comes to mind when talking about it is the gradual rise of the sea level due to the melting of glaciers in the north pole and Antarctica. While this may appear insignificant, it is estimated that in 80 years Maldives will vanish. The reason why it is such a pressing issue for the world is that loss of land will lead to high population densities and mass immigration. Moreover, the global temperature has also been increasing by 0.6 degrees per century, this change has had drastic outcomes to the sea rising its temperature by 0.2 degrees. This has endangered many species of fish and corals. CO2- a major contributor to greenhouse effect-partly dissolves in water. This decreases the overall pH (levels of acidity) of the sea (ocean acidification). Consequently, corals can no longer absorb the calcium carbonate they need to maintain their structure. This explains the weakening of reefs. This directly affects Mauritius since we have reefs all around the island and they compose different species and ecosystems within them. Another issue is that since the temperatures are rising, this connects directly to the spread of insect borne diseases, something which has been a problem through the years with malaria, chikungunya and dengue. Climate change might make this problem worse. Mauritius might also suffer from more violent cyclones and as a result floods which some areas are not prepared for.
Curbing this issue
Now that the damage has already been caused, it is our responsibility to act on climate change. Many countries have acknowledged their roles in this situation. China, considered as one of the worst polluters, has halted the operation of more than 103 coal power plants and plans to invest $360 billion into renewable energy production. Sweden is known for its highly efficient recycling system. In fact, Sweden is so good at recycling it has to import garbage to keep the recycling plants going. Morocco also built the first section of Noor 1 in 2017, the biggest solar plant in the world with the capacity to provide energy to at least a million houses. Conventions have also been hosted to analyse the situation and come up with frameworks. The world’s poorest countries, participating in the 22nd Conference of Parties, agreed to generate energy entirely from renewable sources. Among other measures, countries are also expected to reduce their CO2 emissions. Later, the UK and Canada amongst others, allied to restrict and if possible collectively stop their consumption of coal. When it comes to Mauritius, the budget 2018-2019 earmarked Rs 2 billion for the National Environment Fund. These funds will be used so as to better equip ourselves against the current consequences of climate change, such as flash floods and landslides.
In the words of former US President, Barack Obama, “…when it comes to climate change, that hour is almost upon us”. Indeed, having now realized the nocuous denouement of climate change on the globe, world leaders and humanitarian organizations such as the United Nations (UN) have amalgamated forces and resources to avert the worst of culminations and preserve the planet. Climate action is now officially recognized as a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).
Thanking our fellow contributors: Wameeka, Darshana, Krish, Rithik, Niva, Janesh, Yash, Janvi, Rhea, Gehna, Ishika, Irvana, Loveni, Shanthini and Leah.