At a global scale, the major greenhouse gases emitted by human activity include methane, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases. These gases trap heat within the earth’s atmosphere and make the planet warmer.
Electricity and heat production processes account for about 25 percent of the 2010 global greenhouse gas emissions. Burning of natural gas, coal, and oil during the production of electricity and heat is the leading source of greenhouse gases. In the same year, greenhouse gas emissions from industries accounted for 21% of the global greenhouse gases released. Forestry, agriculture, and other land uses accounted for 24%, transportation 14%, and buildings produced 6% of the global greenhouse gases produced in 2010. Over the years, these numbers have been increasing.
The world is at a crossroads.
We all must contain and minimize our greenhouse gas emissions so that our fishermen, farmers, and grazers can have an opportunity to feed the world. Besides, our industries will have a great opportunity to achieve sustainable growth.
To effectively address global warming (one of the major causes of climate change), we must reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released to the atmosphere. Fortunately, we have practical solutions and the right technology at hand to accomplish this objective.
As an individual, you can help by taking the right action to minimize the amount carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases you release to the atmosphere every day. Besides, we can demand action from our leaders to support and implement an effective climate change solution and fight the threat of global warming.
Here are some of the ways of reducing greenhouse gases emissions.
- Encourage the use of renewable energy and modify the current energy systems to one that doesn’t depend solely on coal and other fossil fuels.
- Improve vehicle fuel efficiency and support any other solution that minimizes the use of oil.
- Set limits on the amount of greenhouse gases that polluters are allowed to emit.
- Focus on building a clean energy economy by using energy-efficient technology, industries, and approaches to different issues.
- Minimize tropical deforestation and its related climate change issues.
Clean energy plan: Climate change game changer
Until a few years ago, power plants were allowed to dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution and other related greenhouse house gases into the atmosphere. Though everyone was complaining about global warming and significant levels of climate change, there were no rules in effect to control greenhouse gas emissions.
On May 12, the Environmental Protection Agency issues three final rules to curb the emissions of smog-forming volatile organic compounds, methane, and other toxic air pollutants including benzene. These are some of the historic standards that represent the most important opportunity in decades to curb the never-ending consequences of climate change.
Well, the planet earth is facing climate change issues. And to be frank, we are to blame.
While the earth goes through cycle of warming and cooling, our actions have been dramatically speeding up these natural processes. And the consequences of our actions include gradual warming of planet earth, decrease in ice sheets, and an increased extinction of some species.
Unless we take the issue of reducing the amount of toxic substances we release into the atmosphere, this is just the beginning.
Climate Change: What, Why, How?
Much has been written about climate change and its impact on the world as we know it. Some of it is on the side of what is commonly termed “fake news,” while other writings are based on reliable, evidence-based scientific facts.
Therefore, the questions that must be asked and answered are as follows:
- What do scientists say about climate change?
- How is climate change changing the world’s weather systems?
- And, what can we do to mitigate or reduce the negative impact of climate change on the world’s ecosystems?
At this juncture, it is vital to note that many studies published in academic peer-review journals indicate that 97% of all climate scientists agree on the definition of climate change as well as the consequences and causes of climate change.
Thus, by way of answering these questions, let’s consider each of these questions individually.
Climate change: A comprehensive definition
The climate.nasa.gov website notes that the phrases “climate change” and “global warming” are used interchangeably. However, there are distinct differences in the meanings.
Global warming is the “long-term heating of Earth’s climate system observed since the pre-industrial period (between 1850 and 1900) due to human activities, primarily fossil fuel burning, which increases heat-trapping greenhouse gas levels in Earth’s atmosphere.”
Climate change, on the other hand, is the “long-term change in the average weather patterns that have come to define Earth’s local, regional and global climates.”
Global warming is one of the fundamental causes of climate change. However, climate change is not responsible for global warming.
What is the impact of climate change on the world’s weather systems?
As the definition mentioned above states, climate change is a shift in the world’s current climate or long-term weather patterns. The uncontrolled burning of fossil fuels is a primary causative of global warming.
2019 statistics show that the earth’s surface temperature was the third warmest in history at 0.65 degrees Celsius. The earth’s surface temperature heated up by 0.86 degrees Celsius in 2016, the highest in recorded history.
This increase in the earth’s surface temperate, albeit seemingly small, has had, and will continue to have, devastating consequences including a rise in global air temperatures, which in turn causes severe weather events like heatwaves, droughts, hurricanes, tornados, and tropical storms.
A current example of the rising temperatures is the melting of the sea ice in Nome, Alaska. Dog teams racing in the Iditarod, one of the world’s premier long-distance races, have been stranded for a couple of days about 123 miles from the finish line. This is due to the unseasonably warm weather, heavy snow, and the fact that heavy winds blew waves up onto the sea ice, causing the dangerous overflow. Overflow is where water flows over the frozen ice causing it to crack and melt. When people and animals try and move through the overflow, the underlying ice breaks further, resulting in hazardous conditions.
As an aside, three mushers and dog teams were rescued by the Alaskan National Guard because they ran into deep water on the sea ice just 22 miles from the finish line. The mushers were hypothermic and had crawled into their sleeping bags when they were picked up. The dogs were all healthy and were collected and taken separately to Nome, the town where the finish line is.
What can we do to reduce global warming?
This question has been asked and continues to be asked, and the concise answer is that we need to reduce greenhouse gas levels by preventing the burning of fossil fuels. However, there seems to be a lack of political will by some of the world’s biggest countries, such as the USA and China.
Until the world chooses to pay attention to and work hard at, the reduction of greenhouse gasses, we seem to be set on the current trajectory facing the consequences of rising temperatures and severe weather events that are linked to global warming.
Climate Change, The World Economic Forum, and Davos: Why Climate Change Matters
“Our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fuelling the flames by the hour. And we are telling you to act as if you loved your children above all else.” – Greta Thunberg
Climate-related incidents, including discussions, news, and commentary, make the headlines across the globe daily. Young climate activists like Greta Thunberg are standing up for what they believe is right. In summary, they believe that the time for action is now. And, if nothing is done to reduce the world’s fossil fuel emissions, the world will “burn”.
Additionally, the Fiftieth annual meeting of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) at Davos, Switzerland, has just concluded. The WEF was established in 1971 to bring the primary role players, including business leaders, politicians, and cultural leaders together to discuss global concerns that hamper global economic inclusion, climate change, and sustainable development. The goal or aim is the achievement of a cohesive and sustainable world.
According to Klaus Schwab, the founder and executive chairman of the WEF, on its fiftieth birthday, the World Economic Forum is “releasing a new Davos manifesto, which states that companies should pay their fair share of taxes, show zero tolerance for corruption, uphold human rights throughout their global supply chains, and advocate for a competitive level playing field.” It is evident from the above statements that the WEF’s primary focus is economic or business-related. And, the participants gather together annually to discuss “everything economic.”
Climate change and the global economy
Thunberg spoke at the 2020 Davos gathering, highlighting that it is vital for the world to pay attention to the fact that the global climate crisis that the global netizens find themselves in. She continues to insist on a zero-carbon emissions global economy. In her opinion, humankind has passed its cut-off day to lower carbon emissions. She, on behalf of all children, placed a series of demands on the table, including ending all fossil fuel explorations, extractions, and subsidies.
The WEF has also placed its climate change objectives on the table. They have noted that the negative impact of climate change, especially global warming, “poses an urgent threat to economic progress, global food security, our natural systems, and individual livelihoods.“
Currently, nations across the globe are encountering the impact of global warming, especially that of rising ocean temperatures. An excellent example of the effects of increasing sea temperatures is what is known as the Indian Ocean Dipole.
In essence, it is a weather phenomenon that relates to the differences in sea temperatures in opposite parts of the Indian Ocean. Current warmer ocean temperatures next to East Africa have resulted in above-average rainfall, floods, landslides, and agricultural crop and local infrastructures in countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia, and South Sedan. Consequently, a famine warning has been issued for East Africa because of the severe flooding and above-average rains.
On the other side of the Indian Ocean, Australia has experienced and continues to experience, the worst bush fires in recorded history. The fires are so hot that they caused their own climate ecosystem with Pyrocumulonimbus thunderstorms. These storms are essentially dry thunderstorms with severe lightning strikes that start more fires. The worst fires hit the states of New South Wales and Victoria.
Additionally, these dry cumulonimbus clouds have also permitted the bushfire smoke to reach the stratosphere, which is about 16kms above the earth’s surface. This, in turn, has enabled the smoke to move around the world past New Zealand and South America. Scientists believe that the smoke from these fires will travel right across the globe and end up back in Australia.
Consequently, the WEF’s solution is to promote the private sector and government collaboration to build a global marketplace with the ability to ensure dramatic cuts in global emissions. Finally, the WEF’s global climate initiatives aim to contribute to a platform to help raise the aspiration to and expedite climate change action through “multi-stakeholder partnerships” across the entire globe.
Afforestation And Global Warming: How Is This Approach Playing Out Globally?
Over the last decade, global warming and climate change have dominated the talks at major events and conferences. Politicians and global leaders have spent thousands of dollars campaigning the idea of helping combat global warming. As such, afforestation and global warming have been two of the most talked-about topics, debating how the former could mitigate the latter.
Our Earth has constantly been trying to cope with the way humans use natural resources, clear forest lands, cut trees, and contaminate the air, land, and water. The industrial revolution, population bursts, and pollution create tons of permanent damage, resulting in global warming and climate change.
In such situations, afforestation has always been seen as a critical solution to global warming, a significant climate change reduction strategy even recommended by the UN. And there is tons of research out there that will tell you just that.
A forest’s role
The idea that planting trees will aid in the cooling of the planet makes logical sense, which is why this idea has grown popular among humans. Everyone has probably heard one person or the other calling the Amazon rainforest the “lungs” of the earth. We know that forests absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thus acting as carbon sinks.
This would result in the partial offsetting of our own industrial and agricultural pollution. Forests are also known to cause a drop in temperature in their surroundings because of transpiration, as water travels from the roots to the leaves, evaporating into the surrounding air.
205 million tonnes of carbon
4.4 billion hectares is the estimated potential area of land cover in the coming decades, a number that far exceeds the current one. New research predicts that if the whole world were to contribute to a joined planting program, these new forests would have the potential to store more than 205 million tonnes of carbon.
This is about two-thirds of the 300 billion tonnes of carbon that has been released into the atmosphere as a result of human activity since the Industrial Revolution. The research says that this places ecosystem restoration and afforestation as the most effective solution at our disposal to mitigate climate change. It ensures that global warming is reduced due to afforestation.
Tree planting is a solution to global warming that doesn’t require President Donald Trump to immediately start believing in climate change, and it definitely doesn’t demand scientists to come up with technological solutions to extract carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. It’s something that is available now all over the world.
It’s probably the cheapest solution possible, and it makes it easy for everyone to get involved, reinforcing a common goal for everyone to work toward. Organizations like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) support people all around the world trying to make a difference. Everyone has the capability to make a tangible impact whether it be through donating money to NGOs like WWF or planting trees on their own. Everyone can make a difference.
Demand vs supply
In today’s day and age, products from trees and forests are in extremely high demand. Whether it be something as simple as a piece of paper or something like a forest-based face cleanser, people want it. However, the problem with this is that the rate at which trees naturally grow in forests is much slower than the rate at which trees in forests are being cut down for production.
This increased demand for tree products has put pressure on companies to obtain them by all necessary means, resulting in added stress on forests because of the endless deforestation. Afforestation is the leading effort in helping alleviate this burden on natural forests by providing a more reliable source of tree products.
This allows companies to use barren land to replant forests and use those trees to satisfy the needs of the people. Afforestation can be the key to leveling the demand from us and the supply from nature, ensuring that we still have a chance against global warming.
Supplying homes throughout nature
When forests diminish, the wildlife does too. Wild animals suffer the most when humans invade forests, destroying everything in their paths. Today, most of the places humans have built their apartments and stadiums used to be homes for wildlife.
As human activity continues to expand, the number of wildlife living in unprotected areas dwindles while the number of animals on the WWF’s list of endangered species increases. Unless drastic measures are set into motion, most of these animals will become extinct.
This is where afforestation jumps in the rescue the day. It will aide in ensuring that there will be enough forests for wildlife to thrive in. Instead of forcing animals out of their natural habitats, humans will have another source of trees to extract what they need without affecting the wildlife and encouraging the alleviation of global warming. For this reason, afforestation and global warming are largely connected, with one being one of the best solutions to the other.
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