The Awakening Call - Climate Change and its Impact on the World We Live In
We live in a world with diminishing and depleting resources due to overconsumption and ill regard towards the environment. Newton's First law of Motion states that every action has a reaction. So what if I told you that the world we live in right now has a higher carbon footprint. Would it spark interest or encourage you to take action? Consider this to be a written wake up call.
Considering climate change like a variability helps to understand the definition of it. Climate change is a bigger portion of global warming that is related to variations that persist for a longer period of time, typically decades or more in the earth's climate. It is safe to say that climate change has not only affected biodiversity but already caused death to over 150,000 people annually. That is just the tip of the iceberg. In the last few years, global temperatures have been consistently among the hottest on record and have increased by 0.95 celsius which has been the highest in the last few years.
The increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases, such as CO2, in the Earth’s atmosphere are causing the planet’s climate system to save more energy. The effects of increased CO2 in the atmosphere and changing climatic conditions are expected to include:
Frequent extreme colder and warmer temperatures
Decreased snow cover: satellite observations suggest that the area of the planet covered by snow has already declined by 10 per cent since the 1960s
Increased climate variability, changes in severity of extreme weather events
Altered distributions of certain infectious diseases
Increased sea levels
Higher acidic ocean levels
According to the WWF, climate change causes are related to:
“Humanity’s increased use of fossil fuels – such as coal, oil and gas to generate electricity, run cars and other forms of transport, and power manufacturing and industry.”
“Deforestation – living trees absorb and store carbon dioxide.”
“Increasingly intensive agriculture – cause to emit greenhouse gases like methane and nitrous oxide.”
In today’s industrial and civilized world, all or if not most companies have built their economies on burning fossil fuels to provide electricity, transport and to develop industries. Developing countries are now beginning to do the same. However, this will only cause more damage to our already scorched planet.
What we need to realize as a society is that climate change does not just affect biodiversity but also the human population. Yes, climate change mostly impacts biodiversity in terms of:
Temperature strikes: A number of species have been affected physiologically by climate change. For example, the green ringtail possum, an endemic species of Queensland’s tropical rainforests, cannot control its body temperature when the ambient temperature rises above 30°C. An extended heatwave in north Queensland could kill off a large part of its population.
Coral bleaching: Warmer sea surface temperatures are blamed for an increase in a phenomenon called coral bleaching. This happens when the coral expels their zooxanthellae, a symbiotic photosynthesising algae that lives within the coral tissues and provides it with essential nutrients. Major bleaching events took place on the Great Barrier Reef in 1998, 2002 and 2006, causing a significant die-off of corals in some locations. This is directly interlinked with ocean acidification.
This is just some of the few in depth examples of the effects of climate change on biodiversity. More would include changes in rainfall, increase in extreme events, sea-level rise, irregulated climate drops and rises, and increased plant growth in warm areas. So why is biodiversity so important? The answer to that question is very simple. A diversity of species increases the ability of ecosystems to do things like hold soils together, maintain soil fertility, deliver clean water to streams and rivers, cycle nutrients, pollinate plants
Climate change causes the displacement of people through the increased number and severity of weather-related disasters which destroy homes and habitats causing people to look for other means of shelter and living. Below is a chart that summarizes some of the impacts climate change has on humans and human health.
Picture from CDC
Picture from Global Change
However, the good thing is that more people are starting to be aware about the long lasting chain of negative impacts climate change is bringing. Six in 10 Americans are now either “alarmed" or “concerned” about climate change, a number that has more than doubled in the past five years. Hundreds of thousands of people from around the world, including students, teachers, communities of faith, health care professionals are taking to the streets to demand climate action. With the persuasion of the environmental advocates, more than 500 global companies have committed to set climate goals based on the best available science. Although countries created the first global plan to tackle climate change in the coming years—the Paris Climate Agreement—the end of climate change is far from over. There is still a gap between the countries that pledged to do and what needs to be done in order to avert climate catastrophe.
So how can you help at home? Due to the pandemic, it might not be easy to go and protest for environmental changes at safe regulated protests to advocate for a greener lifestyle. However, smaller changes that can be done from your very home can help reduce your carbon footprint evidently reducing climate change as a whole.
Choose organic and local foods that are in season.
Buy foodstuffs in bulk when possible using your own reusable container.
Reduce your food waste by planning meals ahead of time, freezing the excess and reusing leftovers.
Compost food waste
Turn off the light when you are not in your room
Switch off plugs before going to bed
These are just some of the many things you can do to help protect your planet. It is important to realize that while we might be enjoying a bowl of ice cream and watching Netflix, there are plastic teams in the ocean causing death to innocent creatures of the sea. We need to realize that our actions are wrong and that we must take action no matter how small. Together we can rebuild the world we live in to a greener place for all before we fall into the ash of our own demise and arrogance.
Written by Sarah Aziz Illustrated by Urvi Agarwal