Climate Change Guide
Important terms and definitions
So, this was about the possible ways of dealing with climate change. Now we will learn some basic terms and definitive words used in the discussion of climate change. When we study any subject we always come across with some terms and definitions. Similar is the case with climate change and global warming. Therefore, here are some important terms we need to understand:
The ability of a system to adjust to climate change (including climate variability and extremes) to moderate potential damages, to take advantage of opportunities, or to cope with the consequences.
Small particles or liquid droplets in the atmosphere that can absorb or reflect sunlight depending on their composition.
Planting of new forests on lands that historically have not contained forests.
Energy derived from non-traditional sources (e.g., compressed natural gas, solar, hydroelectric, wind).
The gaseous envelope surrounding the Earth. The dry atmosphere consists almost entirely of nitrogen, oxygen, argon, helium, carbon dioxide, ozone. In addition, the atmosphere contains water vapour, clouds and aerosols.
Gas or liquid fuel made from plant material (biomass). Includes wood, wood waste, fish oils, ethanol blended into motor gasoline.
Materials that is biological in origin, including organic material (both living and dead) from above and below ground, for example, trees, crops, grasses, tree litter, roots, and animals and animal waste.
The part of the Earth system comprising all ecosystems and living organisms, in the atmosphere, on land (terrestrial biosphere) or in the oceans (marine biosphere), including derived dead organic matter, such as litter, soil organic matter and oceanic detritus.
How to address climate change
Therefore, friends, So far we have learned the meaning and implications of climate change. In what way climate change will affect the human life and natural world on earth and so on. We have also understood the reasons of climate change and global warming. Now we will try to learn the ways in which we can save and protect ourselves, and our earth from the effects of climate change.
Worldwide the scientists and scholars propose two way of dealing with climate change. One is to try to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. In addition, the other is to learn to live and adjust with the changes brought about by climate change. The first way is called Mitigation and the second is called Adaptation.
Mitigation of global warming is generally meant as taking actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions aimed at reducing the extent of global warming. Most proposals at mitigation center on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through reducing energy use and switching to cleaner energy sources. Newly developed technologies including cleaner fuels such as hydrogen fuel cells, solar power, nuclear power, tidal and ocean energy, geothermal power, and wind power are aimed at countering continued greenhouse gas emissions.
What is meant by adaptation
The IPCC 2001 report defines adaptation as “adjustments in ecological, social or economic systems in response to actual or expected stimuli and their effects or impacts. This term refers to changes in processes, practices and structures to moderate potential damages or to benefit from opportunities associated with climate change”. Adaptation hence involves adjustments to decrease the vulnerability of communities, regions, and nations to climate variability and change and in promoting sustainable development.
Understanding climate change
Climate change and global warming has become an issue. This section is focussed on climate change and the related issues. The Focus is also on the main terms and definitions used in the discussion about climate change and global warming. Its a worldwide fact now that the earth’s climate is changing. Global warming is a reality now. Global temperatures are rising more quickly than they have done for the last 10,000 years. The decade of 1990s was the warmest in history, and 1998 was the hottest year. The earth’s average temperature has warmed between 0.3 and 0.6 degrees Celsius in the last 100 years. In future, it may rise by two degrees in the next 100 years, if we go on producing greenhouse gases at the present rate. The Sea level has risen by between 10-25 centimetres in 100 years, as polar ice caps have melted. They are projected to rise another 50 centimetres by 2100.
For a better understanding, emphasis has to be given on the relation between global warming and climate change. An important phenomena which acts as the bridge between these two occurings is the climate system. Similarly, greenhouse effect is yet another critical phenomena which is influencing the global temperature and the weather patterns. The impact of global warming is already visible and it is deterioting very quickly. Recurrent floods, droughts, landslides are looking imminent because of global warming. Along with the flora and fauna, human race is going to face a lot many difficulties because of these changes. The knowledge and awareness about global warming is limited to certain sections which is not helpful in such a circumstance. Gaining knowledge and awareness about global warming and climate change is the first step towards tackling climate change.
Global Warming and Climate Change
Global warming and climate change refer to an increase in average global temperatures. Generally, the natural events and human activities are believed to be contributing to an increase in average global temperatures. This is caused primarily by increases in “greenhouse” gases such as Carbon Dioxide (CO2).
To understand the phenomena of climate change and global warming, clarity in the concept of climate system is necessary. The climate system is a complex system consisting of the atmosphere, land surface, snow and ice, oceans and other bodies of water, and living things. The climate is often defined as ‘average weather’. It is usually described in terms of the mean and variability of temperature, precipitation and wind over a period, ranging from months to millions of years.
The climate system evolves under the influence of its own internal dynamics and to changes in external factors that affect climate (called ‘forcings’). External forcing includes natural phenomena such as volcanic eruptions and solar variations, as well as human-induced changes in atmospheric composition. Solar radiation powers the climate system.
‘Climate change’ refers to a change in the state of the climate that can be identified by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties, and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer. Climate change may be due to internal processes and/or external forcings. Some external influences, such as changes in solar radiation and volcanism, occur naturally and contribute to the changes in the climate system. It has been established that human activity also contributes to such changes.
The Greenhouse Effect
The greenhouse effect is the rise in temperature on Earth as certain gases in the atmosphere trap energy. Energy from the sun drives the earth’s weather and climate, and heats the earth’s surface. In turn, the earth radiates energy back into space. Some atmospheric gases such as water vapour, carbon dioxide, and other gases trap some of the outgoing energy, retaining heat like the glass panels of a greenhouse. These gases are therefore known as greenhouse gases.
Six main gases considered to be contributing to global climate change are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) (which is 20 times as potent greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide) and nitrous oxide (N2O), plus three industrial gases: hydro fluorocarbons (HFCs), per fluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).
Impacts of Global Warming
Rapid changes in the temperature
There is an overall warming of the Earth’s climate. However, some regions may experience cooling, or wetter weather, while the temperature of the planet on average is on rise. According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the 1990s was the warmest decade and the 1900s was the warmest century during the last 1,000 years. However, it is the rapid pace at which the temperature will raise that will result in many negative impacts to humans and the environment and this is why there is such a worldwide concern.
Extreme Weather Patterns
Most scientists believe that the warming of the climate will lead to more extreme weather patterns such as more hurricanes and drought; longer spells of dry heat or intense rain.
In South Asia, the Himalayan glaciers could retreat causing water scarcity in the end. While many environmental groups have been warning about extreme weather conditions for a few years, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced in July 2003 “recent scientific assessments indicate that, as the global temperatures continue to warm due to climate change, the number and intensity of extreme events might increase.”
As emissions of greenhouse gases continue to trap more and more of the sun’s energy, that energy has to be dissipated, resulting in stronger storms, more intense precipitation and higher winds.
Impacts on Ecosystems
An ecosystem is an interdependent, functioning system of plants, animals and microorganisms. An ecosystem can be as large as the Mojave Desert, or as small as a local pond. Without the support of the other organisms within their own ecosystem, life forms would not survive, much less thrive. Such support requires that predators and prey, fire and water, food and shelter, clean air and open space remain in balance with each other and with the environment around them. Climate is an integral part of ecosystems and organisms have adapted to their regional climate over time. Climate change is a factor that has the potential to alter ecosystems and the many resources and services they provide to each other and to society. Human societies depend on ecosystems for the natural, cultural, spiritual, recreational and aesthetic resources they provide.
Rising Sea Levels
Water expands when heated, and sea levels are expected to rise due to climate change. Rising sea levels will also result as the polar caps begin to melt. Rising sea levels is already affecting many small islands. The World Watch Institute reports “Earth’s ice cover is melting in more places and at higher rates than at any time since record keeping began”. Rising sea levels will affect many coastlines, and a large mass of humanity lives near the coasts or by major rivers.
What is water harvesting?
Water harvesting means collecting rain water through various methods. It means capturing rain where it falls or collecting the runoff water in ponds, lakes, tanks etc. This water can be used in gardening, for irrigation and also for recharging groundwater. In certain cases, the harvested water can also be used as drinking water.
What are fossil fuels?
Fossil fuels are non-renewable energy sources formed from the remains of dead animals and plants. It takes millions of years to complete the entire process and it is important to conserve fossil fuels because once these are extracted they will be finished forever. Some examples of fossil fuels are Petroleum, Coal and Natural Gas.
What is deforestation? How does it lead to global warming?
Deforestation is the removal or the clearance of forests for their non-forest use or urbanization. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestlands to ranches, farms, mining for coal or for building cities. Trees play a huge role in the carbon cycle. They convert the CO2 in the air to oxygen, through the process of photosynthesis, and in this way, they can be looked at as a natural regulator of carbon dioxide. Trees help in the reducing CO2 and increasing oxygen in the atmosphere. The removal of trees is causing an increase in CO2 which in turn is leading to global warming.
Where will you find a major population of tigers in India?
Madhya Pradesh, the second largest state in India, has many national parks that harbour a major population of tigers. Some of include Kanha National Park, Panna National Park, Pench Tiger Reserve, Madhav National Park etc.