What Is Climate Change? 

BY SCARLET ADELE 

AUGUST 12, 2021 

Photo by Fateme Alaie on Unsplash 

Three words are appearing in our news feeds more and more each day. These words are "catastrophic," "deadly," and "record-breaking." Yes, we’re 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 catastrophic 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 have a significant influence in greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Greenhouse gases are gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. In more ways than one, it is a significant contributor to climate change. 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, ice melting, and so on. 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 indeed be further proven to be true, Judy Curry, an American climatologist, had written 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 won't witness any extreme weather/climate occurrences changes until the late twenty-first century. In terms of decreasing sea level rise and acidification, the biggest effects will be felt in the twenty-first century and beyond. 

 Photo by Callum Shaw on Unsplash

Though, climate increase doesn’t just affect above: ocean animals are dying due to the increase in temperature. Near the Pacific Ocean was a major heatwave, which impacted marine life, killing an estimate of 1 billion ocean animals. But 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 of those people. The Pacific Northwest had hit 100 Fahrenheit, Harley describing this as "exceptionally rare." Various ocean animals died due to this wave, but the majority were mussels. If this continues, and 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 trunk of a tree, the branches will fall with it. Curry states that in terms of decreasing sea level rise and acidification, the biggest effects will be felt in the twenty-first century and beyond. Increased levels of CO2 can stimulate, or energize, the ocean’s eco-like productivity for the marine food chain. 

With so much at risk today, regardless of one's position on the basic cause of climate change, finding innovative systems that make all species on Earth have a more secure future is something which all should agree on.