Climate Change : An Overview

Climate Change | What is it?

Climate change is an apparent change in global or regional weather patterns. Since the advent of 20th century, the age of Industrialisation had already accelerated the atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to a dangerous level through the use of fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide is one of the chief components of change in climate patterns.

How did we stimulate the climate change?

greenhouseeffectMost climate scientists agree the main cause of the current global warming trend is  human expansion of the “greenhouse effect” — warming that results when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space. Certain gases in the atmosphere block heat from escaping. Long-lived gases that remain semi-permanently in the atmosphere and do not respond physically or chemically to changes in temperature are described as “forcing” climate change. Gases, such as water vapour, which respond physically or chemically to changes in temperature are seen as “feedbacks.”

Climate Change / Greenhouse Effect | Main contributes

  • Water vapour : The most abundant greenhouse gas, but importantly, it acts as a feedback to the climate. Water vapour increases as the Earth’s atmosphere warms, but so does the possibility of clouds and precipitation, making these some of the most important feedback mechanisms to the greenhouse effect.
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) : A minor but very important component of the atmosphere, carbon dioxide is released through natural processes such as respiration and volcano eruptions and through human activities such as deforestation, land use changes, and burning fossil fuels. Humans have increased atmospheric CO2 concentration by more than a third since the Industrial Revolution began. This is the most important long-lived “forcing” of climate change.
  • Methane : A hydrocarbon gas produced both through natural sources and human activities, including the decomposition of wastes in landfills, agriculture, and especially rice cultivation, as well as ruminant digestion and manure management associated with domestic livestock. On a molecule-for-molecule basis, methane is a far more active greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, but also one which is much less abundant in the atmosphere.
  • Nitrous Oxide : A powerful greenhouse gas produced by soil cultivation practices, especially the use of commercial and organic fertilizers, fossil fuel combustion, nitric acid production, and biomass burning.
  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) : Synthetic compounds entirely of industrial origin used in a number of applications, but now largely regulated in production and release to the atmosphere by international agreement for their ability to contribute to destruction of the ozone layer. They are also greenhouse gases.

Climate Change | How to combat?

Because we are already committed to some level of climate change, responding to climate change involves a two-pronged approach: 

  1. Reducing emissions of and stabilising the levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (mitigation)
  2. Adapting to the climate change already in the pipeline (adaptation)

Part 2 of this Series : Climate Change | Agreements

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