top of page

Is Climate Change Real Or Lie? Find Out Everything About It

Environment before climate change and after climate change
Image made with Canva Pro

Climate change: why is it important to understand what it is?


The effects of climate change have been the hot topic of 2023. The year 2023 was declared the hottest year on record by the World Meteorological Organization. (WMO). According to the WMO, our temperatures have already risen to 1.4 degrees celsius above the pre-industrial era of 1850-1900 baseline. 


Extreme weather events are rising in frequency, so many people are bearing the brunt of this situation worldwide. Many are experiencing climate change anxiety and eco-anxiety! I don't intend to depress you with this blog, but I want to affirm that there are solutions and hope to turn this situation around! 


So, I will briefly take you through the history of the climate change issue and stick to the end to know how we can help solve this big problem in easy and practical ways.


In this blog, I intend to give you a clear picture of the history of climate change, its causes, effects, and simple solutions that you and I can do in our daily lives! You can hop on to any section that interests you with the help of the links below.


INDEX


 


What is the climate change issue?  Isn't climate change a natural phenomenon? Is climate change real?


Climate change due to earth's position relative to Sun also called Milankovitch cycles
Image made with Canva Pro

Many argue that climate change is a natural phenomenon. It is bound to happen, and we already have evidence about the different eras and climate changes that occurred in the past, but this time, it is different. 


Throughout Earth's history, climate has undergone natural cycles, including the well-known ice ages. These cycles are primarily driven by variations in the Earth's orbit, axial tilt, and precession, collectively known as Milankovitch cycles.

These astronomical factors influence solar radiation's distribution and intensity, contributing to ice sheet waxing and waning.


Natural factors, like volcanic activity and solar output variations, shape climate over geological time. These processes operate on time scales spanning thousands to millions of years, allowing ecosystems to adapt gradually.


The critical difference between today's climate change and past cycles is the rate of change and its human origin. Unlike the slow, gradual shifts driven by natural forces, the current warming is happening at an alarming pace, with far-reaching consequences for the planet and its inhabitants.


Without getting into too many details and numbers, these graphs are a visual representation of how, since the 1850s, when the Industrial Revolution happened, CO2 emissions have been on the rise. 


Cumulative Co2 emissions since 1750


To have more context as to how climate changed over the millennia compared to the past few centuries gives a clear idea of the gravity of the problem.



Graph of atmospheric carbon dioxide since millennia


Our increased use of fossil fuels pumps greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at an unprecedented rate. These gases, along with many other gases like methane, nitrous oxide, etc., act like a blanket, trapping heat and warming the planet.


Recognizing the anthropogenic influence on the climate allows us to take responsibility for our actions and work towards sustainable solutions. 


Climate change effects


Climate change effects
Image made with Canva Pro

So what effects will climate change due to human activities bring? It is essential to understand what the consequences or effects of climate change will be on everyone around the world.


Immediate effects of climate change are already being felt worldwide in some form; the most affected are some vulnerable and developing countries like the Island nations, which are under the significant threat of losing all land due to rising sea levels due to global warming.


We all worldwide will experience some or all the effects listed below at some point, which may be soon if we don't act now!


Climate change causes Temperature Rise: Greenhouse gases increase global temperatures, causing hotter days and frequent wildfires. Meanwhile, the Arctic has experienced a warming trend twice as fast as the global average.


Climate change causes flooding: Rising temperatures are melting the glaciers and ice sheets, and more frequent and intense storms exacerbate flooding.


Climate change causes Water Scarcity and Drought: Climate change worsens water scarcity, increasing the risk of agricultural and ecological droughts.


Climate change significantly impacts Oceans: Oceans absorb heat, causing rising sea levels and threatening marine life through ocean acidification. 


Climate change causes extinction of species: Biodiversity Loss: Climate change is causing the extinction of many species while accelerating the loss of millions of species on land and in the ocean.


Climate change causes a decline in agriculture, which leads to food insecurity. Climate change contributes to global hunger by affecting fisheries, crops, and livestock.


Climate change causes health risks: Climate change is identified as the primary health threat. Climate change causes pollution, impacts air quality, increases diseases, and affects mental health. We can expect many more pandemics like COVID-19.


Climate change causes migration, leading to Poverty and Displacement due to floods, heat stress, and other weather-related disasters. 


Climate change can lead to wars and conflicts. Climate change causes many people to migrate, which may lead to civic unrest and civil wars.



Climate change action


Uniting the world to tackle climate change image
Image made with Canva Pro

To understand climate change statistics and how it has aggravated through centuries, let me take you through some interesting facts and findings from the beginning of the industrial era! Also, we will navigate through the history of the formation of the United Nations bodies, where countries came together to work out solutions in joint consensus.



Timeline of events:


1856 - First scientist to discover the phenomenon of global warming

Eunice Newton Foote (1819-1888) was a fascinating woman who wore many hats: scientist, inventor, and women's rights campaigner. In 1856, Foote conducted a series of simple yet ingenious experiments. She filled glass cylinders with gases like oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide, then exposed them to sunlight and measured their temperature changes.


Her observations led to a groundbreaking conclusion: carbon dioxide absorbed heat more than any other gas, and its presence in the atmosphere could significantly impact Earth's temperature.


This predated the work of John Tyndall, who is often credited with discovering the greenhouse effect in 1859 by three years. Unfortunately, Foote's contributions were overlooked mainly due to her gender and lack of formal scientific training and were not taken seriously till a century passed. However, in recent years, there has been a renewed interest in Foote's work. Her early insights provide valuable historical context.


1956-1957 - The awareness of climate change began to increase.

In 1956, Gilbert Plass proposed the Carbon Dioxide Theory of Climate Change.

He is a physicist and was one of the first to recognize the role of CO2 emissions from fossil fuels in global warming and accurately predict the rate of warming. He estimated that the Earth's average temperature could rise by 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit per century, which is very close to the observed warming rate. Plass also pioneered the development of computer models to simulate the Earth's climate system.


Roger Revelle was a prominent American scientist who was crucial in pioneering research on the greenhouse effect and raising public awareness about climate change. 

In 1957, Revelle co-authored a groundbreaking paper with Hans Suess titled "The Effect on the Atmosphere and Ocean of Industrial CO2," which challenged the widely held belief that oceans would readily absorb all excess carbon dioxide from human activities. He also stated in his paper that humanity was carrying out a large-scale geophysical experiment.

Their research revealed the unique chemistry of seawater and its limited capacity to absorb CO2, highlighting the potential for human emissions to impact atmospheric CO2 levels and trigger global warming significantly.


Revelle actively engaged with the media and policymakers to advocate for policy action and recognized the need for action to address climate change. 



United Nations Building with all country flags
Image made with Canva Pro

1988 - Formation of IPCC.

In the 1960s and 1970s, people started to worry about the effects of global warming. As the worry of global warming started to mount! The IPCC was created in 1988 by the WMO and UNEP to provide scientific information for developing climate policies. It comprises 195 member governments and volunteers assessing scientific papers to summarize climate change drivers, impacts, and risks comprehensively. 


The IPCC reports feed into international climate policymaking and have played a decisive role in creating vital international treaties to reduce global warming and cope with the consequences of climate change. 


The IPCC's main task is to provide policymakers with regular, objective, and scientific assessments on the following:


It has three Working Groups, each focusing on a different aspect of climate change: 


Working Group I - The scientific basis of climate change: This includes understanding the causes of climate change, such as human activities like burning fossil fuels, and the observed changes in the Earth's climate system.

Working Group II - The impacts of climate change: This involves assessing the current and future consequences of climate change on different ecosystems, economies, and societies worldwide.

Working Group III - Mitigation of Climate Change: The IPCC provides policymakers with potential strategies to adapt to climate change impacts and measures to mitigate further warming.


1992 - Formation of UNFCCC.

The first IPCC Assessment Report (FAR) in 1990 highlighted the importance of climate change as a challenge that requires international cooperation.

In 1990, the First IPCC Assessment Report (FAR) was crucial in forming the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC was established to promote and facilitate cooperation among nations to tackle the issue of climate change, and it has since served as a critical platform for international climate negotiations and action. The Convention has a near-universal membership of 198 Parties.


The Secretariat came into existence in 1992. After countries adopted the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Initially located in Geneva, the Secretariat has been based in Bonn, Germany, since 1996.


1995 - The First COP was held in Germany.

The UNFCCC secretariat organizes and supports the negotiating sessions, ranging from two to four sessions annually. 


The most significant of these sessions is the Conference of the Parties(COP), which is held annually and takes place in different locations globally. This conference is the largest United Nations annual gathering.


The Conference of the Parties (COP) evaluates the reports and numbers submitted by participating countries. This helps assess whether the government's measures are effective in achieving the Convention's ultimate goal. 


The COP meets every year, and the first meeting occurred in March 1995 in Berlin, Germany. The COP Presidency rotates within the five recognized UN regions, so the venue of the COP also shifts among these groups.


2015 - Paris Agreement

The IPCC AR5 (Fifth) Synthesis Report: Climate Change 2014 findings played a crucial role in forming the Paris Agreement. This report warns that crossing the 1.5°C threshold could result in more frequent and severe droughts, heatwaves, and rainfall, causing more severe climate change impacts. To limit global warming, emissions must peak before 2025 and decline by 43% by 2030. 


It served as the scientific backbone for the negotiations and provided compelling evidence for the urgency of global action on climate change. It provided robust evidence for human-caused climate change.


As a result, The Paris Agreement, an international treaty, was adopted by 196 Parties at the COP21 in Paris, France, on December 12, 2015. The agreement became legally binding on November 4, 2016. 


The IPCC AR5 Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change report assessed various mitigation options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This information helped countries craft their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, outlining their individual emission reduction targets.


2023 - Important decisions made at COP 28 in UAE

At COP 28, world leaders, civil society, business, Indigenous Peoples, youth, philanthropy, and international organizations gathered to close the gaps by 2030. The conference was attended by around 85,000 participants who shared their ideas and solutions and formed partnerships and coalitions.

Read the full report here.


Key takeaways from this COP are:

TRANSITION AWAY FROM FOSSIL FUELS

  • COP28 ended with an agreement to transition away from fossil fuels with scaled-up finance. 

  • The stocktake also calls for the tripling of renewable energy capacity and the doubling of energy efficiency improvements by 2030. 

  • Parties are encouraged to set ambitious, economy-wide emission reduction targets aligned with the 1.5°C limit in their next round of climate action plans by 2025.


LOSS AND DAMAGE FUND

  • On the first day of the conference, parties reached a historic agreement on operationalizing the loss and damage fund with commitments totaling more than USD 700 million. 


CLIMATE FINANCE

The financial pledges must catch up to the trillions needed to support developing countries with clean energy transitions and adaptation efforts. However, there was progress.

The Green Climate Fund received pledges totaling the reserve to USD 12.8 billion from 31 countries. 


PLEDGES AND DECLARATIONS

11 promises and declarations were issued, including 

  • The first-ever declaration on the transformation of food systems and health, 

  • Reducing emissions related to agriculture and methane.

  • Declarations on renewable energy and efficiency

  • Initiatives to decarbonize heavy emitting industries.


In the next two years, governments must take crucial measures to address the climate crisis. At COP29, a new climate finance goal must be established, while at COP30, new nationally determined contributions aligned with the 1.5°C temperature limit must be presented.



Is there Hope? The success story of collective action


The Montreal Protocol is a remarkable example of how collective action can help find solutions to mitigate the climate crisis. When I came across this agreement a few years ago, I was amazed to learn how 197 countries came together under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to tackle the alarming issue of ozone layer depletion caused by harmful chemicals widely used in air conditioning, refrigeration, and foam applications. 


The Montreal Protocol of 1987 aimed to protect the Earth's ozone layer by gradually phasing out ozone-depleting substances (ODS) such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). Thanks to this global collaboration, these harmful substances have been successfully reduced, allowing the ozone layer to heal.



How can individual actions help solve climate change?

You might not be the reason for this problem, but you can definitely be part of the solution!


Individual actions to help solve climate change
Image made with Canva Pro

Save energy at home: We generate much of our electricity and heat from coal, oil, and gas. To reduce energy consumption, try lowering heating and cooling, using LED bulbs and energy-efficient electric appliances, washing clothes with cold water, and air-drying instead of using a dryer.


Reduce usage of private vehicles: The roads worldwide are congested with vehicles that largely run on diesel or petrol. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve your health and fitness, walking or riding a bike is advisable instead of driving. For longer distances, consider using a train or bus. Moreover, carpool with others whenever possible. 


Eat a plant-based diet: This can significantly lower your environmental impact. The Meat and dairy industry requires more energy, land, and water. It produces enormous greenhouse gas emissions.


Take fewer flights: With good planning, this is possible. You can reduce your carbon footprint, as airplanes contribute to harmful and immense greenhouse gas emissions. Opt for virtual communication and trains, or avoid long-distance travel when possible.


Reduce food wastage: When you discard food, you're not just wasting the resources and energy utilized to grow, produce, package, and transport it, but you're also contributing to the release of methane. It is a very potent greenhouse gas produced as the food decomposes in a landfill. Therefore, it's crucial to use up all the food you buy and compost any leftovers to reduce the environmental impact of food waste.


Refuse, Reduce, Repurpose, Recycle - The things we buy, such as electronics, clothes, and other items, produce carbon emissions at every stage of their production, from the extraction of raw materials to the manufacturing and transportation of goods to the market. To safeguard our climate, buying fewer things, opting for second-hand shopping, attempting to repair what can be fixed, and recycling is crucial.


Shift to renewable energy sources: Consider inquiring your utility company about the energy source for your home - whether it is oil, coal, or gas. If feasible, explore the possibility of shifting to renewable energy sources. Alternatively, install solar panels on your roof to generate energy for your home.


Opt for Electric vehicles: If you're considering buying a new car, it's worth considering an electric vehicle (EV). With more affordable models being introduced, EVs are becoming an easily accessible option for many people. While it's true that some EVs still rely on electricity generated from fossil fuels, they still produce significantly fewer greenhouse gas emissions and contribute less to air pollution than their petrol or diesel counterparts.


In one of my previous blogs, I wrote in-depth about how we individuals can take action. You can read it here.



Message of Hope from UNFCCC 


Simon Stiell of Grenada, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), quoted, 


"My final message is to ordinary people everywhere raising their voices for change," Stiell added. "Every one of you is making a real difference. In the crucial coming years, your voices and determination will be more important than ever. I urge you never to relent. We are still in this race. We will be with you every single step of the way."


So yes, Climate change is REAL! And it is human-induced, so it is in our hands now to change the situation!






REFERENCE:



Written & Compiled by Pallavi Santhapuram


Disclaimer: This blog is for information purposes only and is not intended to change anybody’s personal views. All the information provided in this blog is true to the best of my knowledge, but there may be omissions, errors, or mistakes. The blog should not be seen as advice of medical, legal, or any other type. I reserve the right to change or update the focus or content of my published or upcoming blogs at any time. The information within this article is researched and compiled from the references provided.


THE ECO LOOP and the author are not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article. The suggestions or opinions appearing in the article are just the author's views. THE ECO LOOP does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.    


Comments


bottom of page