Defining climate change

What is climate change?

The heaps of science is clear. Climate change is real and it is happening now. The problem with human induced climate change is that it cannot be dealt with in the future. We must act now to prevent any major impacts from the problem.

It requires immediate and ambitious action to prevent the worst effects it can have on people and wildlife around the world.

On average, the globe has warmed about an average of 1C over the last 100 years. If we are to prevent the worst effects of climate change, there is global agreement that temperature rises need to be kept below 2C. But as things stand, it is looking to pass that figure in flying colours.

Ideally, we want to keep it below 1.5C. However, assessments suggest that we are currently on course for temperature rises of up to as much as 4C or higher! Sounds scary.

Below is a list of a number of unwanted developments that are occurring at a 1.5C rise in global temperatures:

  • 16 of the 17 warmest years on record have happened since 2001. 2016 was the warmest yet.
  • The current levels of atmospheric concentrations of GHG are unprecedented in the last 800,000 years.
  • Scientists have recently declared a new geological time period: The Anthropocene – Human Activity is said to be the dominant factor on the environment, climate and ecology.

As the planet continues to warm, climate pattern subsequently changes. Very extreme and unpredictable weather will become even more common across the word.

Some places will be wetter, some drier, some hotter and some more humid. These changes have the possibility (some already happening) to have huge impacts on all life on Earth.

What causes climate change?

Burning fossil fuels

Over the last 150 years, nations all over the world, predominantly industrialised nations, have changed the balance of the carbon cycle by burning huge volumes of fossil fuels.


Again, the majority of industrial nations have bred cattle at an exponential rate like no other to feed the huge populations of their country. This leads to the cutting down of forests that naturally absorb carbon dioxide from the air. Not to mention the amounts of methane released into the atmosphere from these animals and the process in feeding and watering them.

Trapped carbon dioxide

The extra CO2 in the atmosphere traps more of the suns heat which raises global temperature. The process is natural, however the speed of change over the last 100 years has been faster than any natural process. More so, faster than many natural systems can adapt.

How hot can it get?

The rise of just 2C globally:

  • Severe storms and floods impacting coastal areas along with droughts in other parts of the world.
  • Acidic seas. Coral and krill die with other food chains destroyed.
  • Little or no arctic sea in the summer. Less habitat for polar bears and also means global climate will warm faster due to less ice to reflect sunlight.

Beyond 2C:

  • Rainforests dying
  • incomprehensible loss of ancient ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica, causing dramatic rises in sea levels.
  • Mass displacement of people and widespread species loss and extinction.

Importance of acting now

Its more than common for global warming to be referred to as common or natural or even that the Earth is cooling. They say there isn’t anything we can do but science has something else to say:

Temperatures are increasing faster than ever known.

There is no denying that the Earth climate has always changed, with temperatures rising and falling over thousands of years. However, now it is happening at a faster rate than ever known before, giving people and wildlife very little time to react and adapt.

Is it man made?

A lot of evidence says (97% scientific consensus to be exact) that global warming is predominantly man-made. This is due to the mass burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

No one can argue that this is a natural process, no matter how much climate change deniers may claim it is.

The good news is we have time to do something about it. However, we must act now and do it together.

Credit: William Wand

Recognition: WWF

Source: The Figure Head

Author: The Figure Head

Bringing you all the latest environmental news.

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