The List Of Causes & Effects Of Climate Change Is Extensive.
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Global warming according to the UN has increased by almost 50% since 1990, it is accelerating climate change and threatens the survival of millions of people, plants, and animals by causing meteorological events like droughts, fires, and floods, which are becoming increasingly frequent and more extreme. This means we need to take measures to mitigate its effects and adapt to its consequences which, even if we keep global warming under 2ºC as required by the Paris Agreements, will last for centuries.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 90% of humanity breathes polluted air, so is calling for a reduction in air pollution to cut rates of respiratory illnesses, thus preventing seven million deaths a year. Contaminated water also causes major health problems and five million deaths a year according to Oxfam Intermón. The UN advocates eliminating dumping, minimizing the use of chemicals, and treating more wastewater, among other measures.
Burning of fossil fuels refers to the burning of oil, natural gas, and coal to generate energy. We use this energy to generate electricity and to power transportation e.g. cars and planes and industrial processes. Ever since the invention of the first coal-fired steam engines in the 1700s, our burning of fossil fuels has steadily increased. Each year we burn over 4,000 times the amount of fossil fuels burnt during 1776. Burning fossil fuels creates CO2, which has far-reaching effects on our climate and ecosystems.
The oceans have become giant waste dumps for plastic. What’s more, there are other serious environmental problems such as damage to ecosystems due to global warming, dumping of pollutants, wastewater, and fuel spills. The UN calls for improved management of protected areas, reducing overfishing, pollution, and acidification of the ocean caused by the increase in man-made CO2 and the earth’s temperature.
While energy accounts for 60% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the UN calculates that 13% of the world population lacks access to electricity and that 3 billion people depend on fossil fuels for cooking. This situation requires an energy transition towards a cleaner, more accessible, and more efficient model based on the use of renewable energy sources to build communities that are more sustainable, inclusive, and resistant to environmental problems like climate change.
Insulating and choosing energy-efficient appliances that use fewer resources is a straightforward way to reduce your carbon footprint. Wet appliances, such as dishwashers and washing machines, typically account for 10% of a typical household’s energy bills. Frequency of use is a factor and choosing lower temperatures and airing clothes on a line rather than using a tumble dryer will reduce energy consumption.
Your carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases that are generated by your actions. The average carbon footprint for a person in the United States is 16 tons – one of the highest rates in the world. Globally, the average is closer to 4 tons. To have the best chance of avoiding a 2℃ rise in global temperatures, the average global carbon footprint per year needs to drop to under 2 tons by 2050. Lowering a carbon footprint from 16 tons to 2 won’t happen overnight! Small changes, like eating less meat, taking fewer flights, and turning down heating by 1C will make a big difference.
Recycling helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing energy consumption. Using recycled materials to make new products reduces the need for virgin materials. This avoids greenhouse gas emissions that would result from extracting or mining virgin materials.
In 2019, the CIEL estimated that the production and incineration of plastic would add 850 million metric tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere – equivalent to 189 coal-fired power plants. By 2050 this could rise to 2.8 gigatons of carbon dioxide per year – or 615 coal plants’ worth. We also dump about 14 million tons of plastic in the ocean every year and plastic makes up 80% of all marine debris.
Agriculture is a major part of the climate problem. It currently generates 19 – 29% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Without action, that percentage could rise substantially as other sectors reduce their emissions. Additionally, 1/3 of food produced globally is either lost or wasted.
Solid waste contributes directly to greenhouse gas emissions through the generation of methane from the anaerobic decay of waste in landfills, and the emission of nitrous oxide from our solid waste combustion facilities. Dispose of waste sensibly and always pick up the waste and dispose of it in recycling facilities.
Globally, transportation accounts for between 15 and 20 percent of emissions each year. In many ways, climate change and modern transportation go hand in hand. The life-changing technological advances from the Industrial Revolution that ushered in new modes of travel are the same technologies that have contributed to the wide-scale pollution of our planet.
Population growth is very important because it affects the Earth’s ability to withstand climate change and absorb emissions, such as through deforestation as land is converted for agricultural use to feed a growing human population. More than 80 million people a year are added to our global population. The UN projects that without further action there will be two billion more people by 2050, and three-and-a-half billion by 2100.
When forests are cut down, much of that stored carbon is released into the atmosphere again as CO2. This is how deforestation and forest degradation contribute to global warming. The consensus among climate scientists is that CO2 from tropical deforestation now makes up less than 10 percent of global warming pollution.
Many species are already being impacted by anthropogenic climate change, and its rapid onset is limiting the ability of many species to adapt to their environments. Climate change currently affects at least 10,967 species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, increasing the likelihood of their extinction.
Our consumer habits are actually driving climate change. A 2015 study found that the production and use of household goods and services were responsible for 60 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Not surprisingly, wealthy countries have the most per capita impact. We must all change our habits.
Extract from ‘I RAN THE WORLD’ by Chris Long - published May 2020 CHAPTER 21 Is that it? As I write this Greta Thunberg, who started a school strike for climate change outside the Swedish Parliament building, is now regarded across the world as a model of...
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