4.4 billion people are injured from the results of climate change, and this number has only continued to increase. The last quarters of 2019, especially in developing and under-developed countries, were filled with waves of climate information and action. Social media, news, conferences, and summits that had something to say and do with the environment all haunched climate-related issues. What is happening? What is climate change? And how does a change in weather condition over a long time injure people and depreciate the economy in hundreds and billions of dollars?
What is Climate Change?
There is one thing certain in the Universe, and that is “Change.” Many authors and writers like Robert Collier in the book “The Secret of the ages” say that the greatest purpose of life and existence is growth, which is considered an irreversible or reversible change. Climate change, on the other hand, is a kind of growth that is seemingly rapid, but is it a good one? Because I hear about fast fires and extinction, then cannibalism of polar bears and undue migration of animals from their habitats.
It is easy to resound the definition of climate from preliminary knowledge of science classes in school. “The long-term average weather conditions of a large area over a long period”. But don’t you think there are some deeper meanings to it? Climate labels the different geographical locations in the world in; fauna and flora types, and controls their activities, the availability of resources, and the overall balance of the earth’s dynamics. The major problem lies in the fact that this change is rapid and may not give room for adaptation of life, especially of animals and plants.
In fact, there are tons of questions to draw out from climate change, and as well there are lots of intertwined processes that manifest into results caused because of a change in balance. One could even ask; Where did we go wrong?
The Mistakes of the ages.
Man has continued to iterate problem-solving to handle present and prospected future needs. This development heightened after the second world war, known as the industrial era, when the high-powered world of technology was the focal point. To solve problems and make life better, to develop the economy through the industrial sector. And while these inventions and innovation continued, no one knew about their side effects. No one paid proper attention to the more significant price we are already paying. Well, they may have been aware, but they refused to face reality because it threatened their personalities and resources for wealth creation.
It is for the same reason that individuals continued in the release of toxic substances into the different spheres of the environment, hoping that they will disappear or be neutralized through diffusion, dissolution, and natural remediation processes.
Man was not environmentally aware, not up until the early 80’s with the likes of Henry David Thoreau, who wrote essays and poems that reflected the environment and then in 90’s when the pragmatic activists of the United States started awareness movements. One of the books that caused such a breakthrough was Silent Springs, written by Rachel Carson. This marine biologist pointed out the effects of insecticide pollution in the environment.
But I am not about to bore you with history and who should be blamed, or who took the best actions. This post is to help you understand amongst the many trends what is happening to our world. The insights here will help you make prospective plans and actions because climate change will not only affect the physical environment. It will change businesses, career paths, and we pray the flip side effects will not extend for generations to come (if there will be any).
Causes of Climate Change.
This is somewhat a controversial topic. Climate activists say that humans are the cause of climate change; some opposing parties refuse to take this blame and see it as a cynical means to hinder development and activities. But, the truth has always been the same and constant over the years: man always avoids whatever threatens his identity.
The sundry causes of climate change centers around temperature change;
Temperature is a parameter that controls a lot of other weather parameters. It determines precipitation. And it determines atmospheric pressure, which results in the movement of air masses (wind), which in turn determines the weather of a place and corresponding climate over a more extended period.
That sentence shouldn’t be that confusing; all you should pick from there is the fact that weather, climate, and its changes, are all determined by temperature to a considerable extent. Which goes ahead to say that effect on climate change is mediated through changing temperature levels achieved by the following causes; Natural and Anthropogenic.
The natural factors are;
Astronomical and extraterrestrial.
Scientific research confirms that the earth has been in existence for over 4.6 billion years. This conclusive research also confirms that over those years through quantitative assessment, the amount of radiation and extent of the sun’s output has fractionally increased over the years. The varying sun intensity affects the radiation and temperature of the earth, and in turn, affects climate.
Changes In Orbital and Axial Characteristics.
The solar system is held together by gravitational and magnetic forces. These forces experience perturbation that alters the obliquity of the earth’s axis. This change causes a redistribution in latitudes and longitudes, which means that solar radiation is redistributed – temperature redistribution and then climate change.
Shift of Tectonic Plates.
The lithosphere sits on seven major tectonic plates that separated from each other to form the seven continents of the world. Over the years from externalities and internal pressure, these plates tend to shift, causing redistribution of solar radiation, which affects temperature and as well as other factors.
But amongst all these natural factors of climate change, we should know that these natural causes take over thousands of years or even millions to manifest. Which is not impactful enough to cause the changes we are experiencing today.
The existence of man and human is not necessarily the beginning of deteriorative effects. But the actual need for man to solve needs, develop, create problems, and their corresponding solution is the reason why we are here today.
The Story of this predicament lies in two big words, Green-house gases, and Global warming.
Release of Green-House Gases.
Greenhouse gases are gases released into the atmosphere with heat-trapping abilities. If all they did was heat-trapping or some sort of heat engulfment, there would be no Greta Thunberg or wailings of hunger in the equatorial regions. The problem of greenhouse gases and their contribution to climate change is that they trap or absorb and emit heat radiation, an effect known as the greenhouse effect.
What are green-house gases?
Don’t forget. We said that the reason why we have weather in the first place is because of temperature and temperature changes. The earth receives sunlight reflected by the atmosphere to the land, seas, oceans, forests. When these components of the planet receive these radiations, they either absorb or reflect them. Oceans, seas and river bodies absorb most of the sunlight. In fact, the sun in an hour releases enough energy that is more than the energy used by the whole world for a year. Plants also use the absorbed energy for photosynthesis and food production.
BUT!!! the reflected radiations – they go back into the atmosphere, and some are lost into space. Now, there are so many shiny surfaces as man has continued to develop his surroundings. Trees that can absorb a lot of energy are being cut down and replaced by roads, bridges, houses, industries. These surfaces continue to radiate more heat. This causes more heat to be released into the atmosphere and as well causing the oceans and remaining heat banks to absorb heat higher than normal thresholds.
Green-House gases in the atmosphere.
90% of the reflected heat radiation while in the atmosphere is absorbed by greenhouse gases and then reflected to the earth’s surface. Naturally, this is an essential process because, without such, the earth will be too cold for inhabitance. However, the more significant problem lies in the rapid release of these greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which means more heat-trapping, more increase in temperature, and more changes in weather parameters.
The increase in temperature of the earth causes a warming effect globally. This increase is gradual and has a lot of results, which is manifest in climate change. The more greenhouse gasses are released into the atmosphere, the more the warming effect. This warming effect cascades into extreme weather conditions. High temperature means high evaporation, high evaporation, in turn, means high cloud formation and heavier precipitation. High temperature also causes changes in atmospheric pressure which, when trying to balance with warm air and varying pressure, causes cyclones, tornadoes, and hurricanes.
The release of these gases and their corresponding effects hinge on certain human activities.
The need to clear land areas for development, erection of buildings, for agriculture, and its resources have made a lot of land barren and has caused a substantial reduction in the number of trees over the years. However, the trees cut from terrestrial ecosystems bear a vital role for heat-trapping. Trees as well help to regulate the rainfall of a region, and deforestation causes an alteration in rainfall patterns of that region, increased heat radiation, and a general reduction of carbon sinks.
Who knew that our quest to satisfy our hunger would also harm our world one day. The basic need of man is to feed, but before we can have those shiny grains and fleshy meat on the table, a lot of processes must come together to provide those perfect products.
Production Stages: In the clearing of lands and use of fertilizers produced from industrialized processes that also release greenhouse gases into the environment, cause pollution of the air, water and land through practices like pesticide application and irrigation. Also, livestock production releases greenhouse potent greenhouse gases like methane into the environment. This happens when cows and ruminant animals regurgitate their food.
The other processes of storage, processing, packaging, transportation, and preservation of these food commodities contribute to the release of greenhouse gases into the environment.
The fact that man needs to improve the standard of living, solve problems in better and efficient ways, create wealth and freedom has led to a lot of mishaps. Entrepreneurs such as Naval in a podcast about wealth creation mentioned that wealth is unlimited for everyone. I agree, but he also gave analogies about countries that are poor because there are only a few people who create wealth while the others keep “taking” wealth leading to a breakdown of the system.
“if you get too many takers and not many makers, the society falls apart.”Naval – How to get rich.
This is also totally true, but this can be related to the way natural resources are gotten from the earth. Most of them are resources that cannot be produced and recreated by man. Even if we could, it takes a longer time than it requires to harness it. There are so many industrial companies and manufacturing firms that are concentrated on taking from the earth system. Whereas there are only but a few who delve into recycling and restoration of these resources. We are facing the results of having only takers, few contributors or at least people who can foster the three R’s of sustainability (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle)
Industrialization, as a form of wealth creation, has posed many risks on the environment. Mining of ores, purification of raw materials, their manufacturing processes, and creation of power, which has driven into uncurbed emissions. Who ever knew that status games will be introduced into emissions and deterioration of our environment where nations and carbon contributors of climate change begin to play a reverse status game on who releases carbon more than the other?
While we keep playing blame games and dodging responsibilities that threaten our existence, here are some of the effects of climate change. You can’t help but notice that there are no positive effects. Either it is a whole new problem entirely, or it is countering already solved problems. But what does it matter, the suffering and effects are more on some people compared to the others, and it happens that people on the receiving ends do not have enough power to change their situation.
“In a world of more than seven billion people, each of us is a drop in the bucket. But with enough drops, we can fill any bucket”.David Suzuki
We are over seven billion, and we all are contributing to filling the bucket of climate change. And we are also the ones with enough drops to fill another bucket to mitigate and reduce these effects of climate change.
What are your concerns about climate change? Care to share with others in the comment section?