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Global climate change related impacts


CLIMATE CHANGE Climate on earth has changed over time. Seven cycles of glacial advances and retreat have happened in the last 650,000 years ago with the last ice age ending about 7,000 years ago which marked the start of modern climate era and ...Read More


~Posted on Feb 2019

Global climate change related impacts

CLIMATE CHANGE Climate on earth has changed ov...

CLIMATE CHANGE

Climate on earth has changed over time. Seven cycles of glacial advances and retreat have happened in the last 650,000 years ago with the last ice age ending about 7,000 years ago which marked the start of modern climate era and human civilization. The sun serves as earth’s primary source of energy. A balance in the atmosphere exists to ensure that the right amount of this energy is retained. Incoming sunlight is directed in different ways, some of it goes back into space through reflection by bright surfaces such as clouds and the ice.  The rest is absorbed by the atmosphere and the earth’s surface (Oreskes, 2004). The absorbed energy is later re-emitted as heat, and the atmosphere, in turn, reabsorbs and re-radiates it. Some of the heat may escape back to space. A slight change in the balance, for example, an increase in the output of energy from the sun can cause significant changes. Same can be said about a change in heat emitted from the surface if all the re-emitted heat from the surface escapes to through the atmosphere to space, the earth’s average surface temperature would drop in degrees.

The climate change has been attributed to various causes. Most of the changes that took place 650,000 years ago have been attributed to the slight variations in the orbit of the earth which impact on the amount of solar energy received by the earth. From the mid-20th Century, however, the climate change has been rapid with an increase in global warming. 95% of the change has been said to have been as a result of human activity, also known as anthropogenically caused climatic changes. Most of the human activity that has resulted in the rapid shift in climate has been said to increase greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases include water vapor, methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide (Rosenzweig et al., 2008). The gases trap heat on the surface of the earth hence making in warmer. A good example is depletion of carbon sinks that help eliminate carbon dioxide. Cutting down trees is how human beings deplete carbon sinks because they take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen in return. The greenhouse gases trap heat and release it in all directions keeping the surface of the earth and lower atmosphere warm. Currently, more energy from the planet in entering the earth while little heat is released back. It is for this reason that the planet is experiencing heat waves melting of ice and retreatment of the glaciers in the Arctic. As much as other natural factors play in climatic change, anthropogenically caused climatic change is real and as stated above takes the most significant share (95%) (Wilby & Dessai, 2010).

The impacts of climate change have become extreme in some cases. An example is what is happening in Australia. Several incidences of heatwaves have been recorded in Sydney with one reaching up to 117°F on the 7th of January this year. According to the meteorology department of New South Wales, this is the hottest day to have ever been reported. As a result, the increase in temperature has come with issues like increased health issues to the people in the region. Exposure to these extreme heat promotes many psychological changes which include stroke, heart attack, cramping and may even lead to death. There has been increased hospitalization in some parts of Australia due to the increase in heat. Since Australia experiences winter too, the weather conditions are also extreme where people are hospitalized too.

The other impact is on the loss of biodiversity in the coastal region (Felton et al., 2009). Australia prides itself on the presence of the great barrier reef. However, for the past few years, the extreme heat has resulted in bleaching of the coral reef. The coral reef is a beautiful marine phenomenon, and due to increase in temperature, the coral reef discolors, and its beauty is lost. Ocean acidity also affects the coral reef’s ability to grow. Therefore, all the animals that depend on it are affected as they lose their habitat. The coral reef is one of the most sought-after tourist attraction in the coastal region of Australia. Losing it means not only losing an essential aspect of the marine ecosystem but also losing on the income that Australia enjoys from the tourists who visit to see it. Australia’s economy may feel the effects of this as tourism of one of the pillars of their economy ("Climate cts on change Australia", n.d.).

The most significant problem with the climate is global warming, in other words, an increase in heat retained on the earth’s surface and the lower part of the atmosphere (Troposphere). The best way to deal with this increase is by reducing the greenhouses gases we release to the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is the number one greenhouse that should be eliminated. The gas is released in several ways which include, coal, oil, fossil fuels when burned where we use the energy released in powering our homes and cars. Using less of the energy will mean that the release of this gas will reduce hence doing away with global warming. Alternative means like renewable energy can be used. The other solution is to increasing carbon sinks. Carbon skinks like trees will not only reduce the carbon in the atmosphere but will also increase ground cover which protects the soil from erosion and in turn preserves the biodiversity (Wilby & Dessai, 2010).

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