Climate change can be defined as the change in the measurable properties of the climate over a long period of time generally extending beyond a few decades. Since these variations occur over generations, it becomes difficult to find physical evidence of such changes.
The evidence of the climate changes lie in surface temperature, archaeological evidences, glacier sizes, arctic sea ice losses, changes in type, distribution and coverage of vegetation, pollen analysis, sea level changes and precipitation changes.
So what causes climate changes? Several internal and external factors influencing the climate are responsible for bringing about climatic changes. Ocean variability like changes in ocean depth and impact on carbon and water cycles due to life on earth are the internal factors influencing climate change. The external factors include variations in earth?s orbit, solar output, volcanic eruptions, motion of tectonic plates and human influence.
While all other influencers of climatic change are beyond our direct control, impact of human activities is our direct responsibility. There are several irrefutable evidences to suggest that the human influence on the climate viz. CO2 levels, aerosols, ozone depletion, animal agriculture and deforestation are increasingly responsible for the bulk of climate change.
The direct human influence has led to an increase in average temperature of earth?s climate ? a phenomenon termed as Global Warming. Increased amount of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane, tropospheric ozone, Chlorofluoro carbon and nitrous oxide is the single most important reason behind global warming. Over a longer term, global warming is expected to lead to ice loss and sea level rise and disruption to thermohauline circulation (a phenomenon that keeps the earth hospitable) leading to complete destruction of life on the planet. The fact that the changes occur over a very long term makes it less perceptible to the common man thereby making most of us conveniently ignore the urgency of the issue.
The crisis appears to be huge, and it actually is! But it is of our own making and we are the ones who need to correct it. We must switch to alternative sources of energy like renewable energy sources and nuclear energy ? a step that can single-handedly limit the biggest sources of greenhouse emissions that is burning of fossil fuel. The other steps include energy conservation, creation of carbon sinks, reforestation and climate engineering including carbon dioxide removal and solar radiation management.
All of us ? irrespective of resource availability at our disposal ? can positively contribute towards mitigating this crisis. We can think of several innovative ways of reducing greenhouse emissions and carbon footprint. We must start respecting our natural resources and use them wisely.
Get closer to the nature and let the nature show us the way ? utilizing moonlight for streets on full moon night and hanging out outdoors are just a couple of examples. Imagination is the limit!
Rithika Rajapala Shetty
Delhi Private School-Dubai
Author: Rithika Rajapala Shetty