What Is Climate Change?
By: Scarlet Anglesey
August 12, 2021
Three words are appearing in our news feeds more and more each day. These words are "catastrophic," "deadly," and "record-breaking." Yes, we are talking about climate change.
2020 was (in)famous for COVID-19 -- 2021 is a new era: Climate change is putting itself in the spotlight. For example, in one week, countries worldwide are in a crisis of disasters: temperatures in British Columbia hit 121 degrees, record heatwaves took place in Oregon, tropical heat in both Finland and Ireland are just a few things that have occurred throughout the year 2021. Floods and wildfires have become the new normal for our everyday lives on Earth. According to BBC, since the year 2000, the likeliness of flooding has risen by nearly 25%. Wildfires are over double the yearly average acreage since the 1990s, reports the Federation Of American Scientists.
Carbon dioxide is thought to influence greenhouse gas emissions and climate change significantly. Greenhouse gases are gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. It is a significant contributor to climate change in more ways than one. It, for example, heats both the atmosphere and the Earth's surface. This may lead to a warmer Earth, which would trigger a chain reaction of deforestation, wildfires, and ice melting. Our world would be too cold without them, and life as we know it would cease to exist.
The atmospheric levels of CO2 are at the utmost highest level ever recorded. "... [climate change] is the term scientists use to describe the complex shifts, driven by greenhouse gas concentrations, that are now affecting our planet's weather and climate systems," says a National Geographic article.
Although this can be further proven accurate, Judy Curry, an American climatologist, wrote an article on CO2 stating that we need to be honest about what lowering CO2 emissions will truly accomplish when assessing the urgency of CO2 emission reductions. If emissions in the emerging world, notably China and India, continue to rise, drastic reductions in US emissions will not be enough to lower global CO2 concentrations. If climate model calculations are correct, we will not witness any extreme weather/climate occurrences changes until the late twenty-first century. In decreasing sea level rise and acidification, the most pronounced effects will be felt in the twenty-first century and beyond.
However, climate increase does not just affect the above: ocean animals die due to increased temperature. A significant heatwave impacted marine life near the Pacific Ocean, killing an estimated 1 billion ocean animals. Nevertheless, some people beg to differ and believe that that number was much higher. Christopher Harley, a professor at the University of British Columbia, is one. The Pacific Northwest had hit 100 Fahrenheit, Harley describing this as "exceptionally rare." Various ocean animals died due to this wave, but most were mussels. If this continues, the death of this creature becomes closer and closer. "...The mussel bed would be losing all the apartment buildings in a city core," Harley said. Many animals' foods supply depends on this species. Cut down the tree's trunk, and the branches will fall with it. Curry states that the most extensive effects will be felt in the twenty-first century and beyond to decrease sea-level rise and acidification. Increased levels of CO2 can stimulate or energize the ocean's ecological productivity for the marine food chain.
With so much at risk today, regardless of one's position on the fundamental cause of climate change, finding innovative systems that make all species on Earth have a more secure future should agree on.