What Are The Causes And Consequences Of Climate Change – Climate change is real, and the evidence is all around us. While changes in the earth’s climate are nothing new, the recent effects appear to be having a population impact on people, places and animals. If you want to know what climate change really is and why, then keep reading to learn more about the causes, effects and practical solutions to stop it.

You’ve probably heard the terms climate change and global warming used interchangeably. That is, they both describe changes in the earth’s climate region. While global warming refers to a rise in the average temperature of the planet, climate change generally refers to variations in factors such as precipitation, wind patterns, and temperatures over a period of time. Changes in climate could last for a few years, decades, or even millions of years.

What Are The Causes And Consequences Of Climate Change

Climate change has been happening for as long as the earth has existed. At any given time, the earth’s climate patterns change and remain constant over time. This is particularly evident in the natural cycles of cooling and heating. Before human causes began to change the global climate, five main factors interacted with each other as climate changes took place. These five factors include: [1].

Learn About The Causes Of Biodiversity Loss

The American Association for the Advancement of Science stated: “The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is now a growing threat to society.” [2]

Greenhouse gases play a vital role in the earth’s climate cycles. When a planet is struck by the sun’s rays, some energy is absorbed, and the rest of its energy and heat is reflected back into space. Gaseous gases trap energy in the atmosphere, reflecting it back to the ground and ultimately contributing to global warming. Various gases have this function, including: [3]

While some of these greenhouse gases, such as water vapor, are naturally occurring, others, such as CFCs, are synthetic. CO2 is released into the atmosphere by both natural and man-made causes and is one of the main contributors to climate change. CO2 is growing at an alarming rate and has the potential to remain in the earth’s atmosphere for thousands of years unless absorbed by the ocean, land, trees and other sources. [4] However, as CO2 production has risen steadily, the earth’s natural resources have also been depleted. This is already happening in many ways as populations of both are disappearing from similar deforestation. Some studies also predict that plants and soil may absorb less CO2 as the earth continues to warm — possibly accelerating climate change even further. [5]

Solar activity, as we mentioned above, plays a role in the region of the earth. As the Sun goes through natural cycles, increasing and decreasing the amount of energy it emits to earth, it is likely that solar activity is a major contributor to global warming or climate change. When scientists began measuring the energy of the sun hitting our atmosphere, there was no measurable upward trend.

Africa Faces Rising Climate Linked Health Emergencies

There are many notable ways in which agriculture has been impacted by climate change. From deforestation in places like the Amazon to the transportation and livestock that underlies agricultural efforts around the world, agriculture is responsible for a significant portion of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. But agriculture is also an area that is making huge strides to become more sustainable. As productivity increases, less carbon is emitted to produce more food. Agriculture also has the potential to act as a carbon sink, absorbing as much CO2 as it emits. [7]

Deforestation and climate change are often synonymous. Climate change not only increases deforestation through wildfires and other extreme weather events, but even greater deforestation contributes to global warming. According to the Earth Network, deforestation is the second leading contributor to global greenhouse gases. [8] Many people and organizations fighting against climate change downplay the point that deforestation is one of, if not the biggest, issues that must be addressed to slow or prevent climate change. [9]

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the most significant contributor to climate change in the United States is the burning of fossil fuels for electricity, heat and transportation. Of these factors, transportation in the form of cars, trucks, ships, trains and planes emits the largest percentage of global warming accelerating CO2 and remains a significant cause of climate change. [10]

Along with many of the interconnected issues of agriculture and deforestation that we have already touched upon, livestock in particular cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens play a significant role in climate change. According to one study, “Livestock” and “Climate Change,” livestock worldwide is responsible for 51% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. [11]

The Climate Change

From melting mountains to more extreme weather patterns, people everywhere are beginning to notice the real impacts of climate change. While other countries around the world take action with initiatives such as the Paris Climate Agreement, others continue to release millions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year as business as usual. While the long-term consequences are still unknown, climate change currently continues to cause extreme weather and health and economic challenges on a global scale.

Changes in the weather are perhaps the most significant effects of climate change for the average person. There is one reason that severe weather events can have a financial impact. So far in the US in 2019, there have been six climate disasters, costing more than $1 billion. [12] According to the National Climate Assessment, extreme weather events will continue to increase in frequency and intensity as climate change continues to occur. [13] Extreme weather caused by climate change includes;

In 2014 the US Department of Defense released a report that determined climate change was a serious and immediate threat to national security. According to former Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, “rising global temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, rising sea levels, and more extreme weather events will increase the challenges of instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict.” [14]

Furthermore, climate change is likely to cause economic challenges in many parts of the world. Some estimates have the US already spending around $240 billion annually on human-caused climate change, and future costs are projected to be higher. [15] However, putting an exact number on the true costs of climate change is difficult once you consider the staggering costs of losing natural resources like clean air and water.

Over Half Of Known Human Pathogenic Diseases Can Be Aggravated By Climate Change

The long-term effects of climate change can absolutely devastate the planet and everyone and everything that lives on it. If the world continues on its current trajectory, we will likely continue to see increased effects in everyday life.

There are many ways in which climate change could bring health to humans. Depending on age, location, and economic status, climate change is already affecting the health of many and has the potential to impact millions more. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, climate change-related health risks may include: [16]

Ecosystems are interconnected living organisms that support all types of plant and biological life. Climate change is already altering weather patterns and disrupting the food distribution of plants and animals around the world, potentially causing mass extinction events. Some studies estimate that nearly 30% of plant and animal species are at risk of extinction if global temperatures continue to rise. [17]

Climate change could have a significant impact on food and water supplies. Severe weather and increased temperatures will continue to increase crop yields and limit water demand. With demand for fuel expected to grow by over 70% by 2050, the problem is only going to get worse. [18]

Climate Change In The United States

Sea level rise could have far-reaching effects on coastal cities and habitats. Increasing ocean temperatures and melting ice sheets have steadily contributed to sea level rise on a global scale. At current rates, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that sea levels will rise by at least 8 inches by 2100, potentially increasing flooding and decreasing ocean and wetland habitats. [19]

While they contribute to rising sea levels, shrinking ice sheets present their own unique problems, including increased global warming and greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change has caused the summer melting of the ice sheets that cover Greenland and Antarctica to increase by nearly 30% since 1979.

The ocean is one of the main ways in which CO2 is absorbed. While at first glance that may sound like a net positive, more and more human-made CO2 is pushing the world’s oceans to their limits and increasing acidity. As the pH levels in the ocean decrease, shellfish have difficulty reproducing, and much of the ocean’s food cycle is disrupted. [21]

While the effects of climate change may seem bleak, there is still hope. Without immediate action to control climate change, we may never see the worst consequences. Likewise, when the world adopts cleaner, more sustainable energy solutions, millions of new jobs and billions of dollars can be created.

Ocean Acidification: Causes And Consequences (update) / Climate Analytics

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