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9.3.1.6. Climate change

Climate change

The global warming is increasing the average temperature of the earth caused by emissions of greenhouse gases produced by human activities.

The global warming is causing climate change in which, in addition to increasing the temperature, other changes are occurring as:

  • Sea level rise.
  • Melting of mountain glaciers.
  • Decrease in the frozen surface in Greenland and the Arctic.
  • Droughts, hurricanes, heavy rainfall, floods , heat waves, etc.
  • Change of habitat of animal and plant species.

But this climate change is not the only time that the climate has changed in Earth's history. In the Quaternary , for example, there have been four great glaciations that have alternated with other interglacial periods of warmer climate. Or in the Mesozoic, that the temperature was 5 ºC higher than the current average temperature. In both cases, the temperature only varied 5 ºC above and below the current temperature, and its effects were very noticeable.

These climatic changes had natural causes, such as variations in the Earth's orbit, variability of the energy emitted by the Sun, the distribution of the continents by Plate Tectonics, or volcanic activity, which caused the average temperature to change. But in current climate change, the main cause is the action of human beings that is increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere , such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which retain part of the infrared radiation emitted by the Earth and increase its average temperature between 1.5 and 4.5 ºC.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change regularly assesses the state of climate change, its causes, impacts and possible responses.

Climate change is a very serious problem and, although there are some scientists who deny it, it seems necessary to take the necessary measures to avoid the increase in greenhouse gases.

También llamado Panel Intergubernamental del Cambio Climático, conocido por el acrónimo en inglés IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)

Solutions for climate change

Some of the measures to take to avoid climate change are:
  • Improving technologies so that they are more efficient and emit fewer greenhouse gases in energy production.
  • Political, economic and social measures aimed at reducing gas emissions.
  • Reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and replace them with other renewable energy sources.
  • Establishment of energy saving plans.
  • Reforestation to capture carbon and reduce CO2 from the atmosphere.
  • Protect forests and other ecosystems that capture CO2 from the atmosphere.
On a personal level we can also contribute and avoid climate change.
  • Recycling waste. This consumes less energy than producing them again.
  • If we shower instead of bathing, in addition to saving water, we save energy to heat it.
  • Turn off the lights if they are not needed.
  • Use energy saving light bulbs.
  • Do not leave the television, the mobile charger, and other electrical appliances on standby.
  • Buy appliances with the European energy efficiency label "A".
  • Not having the heating too high. Raising the temperature 1 ºC implies a lot more energy expenditure.
  • Use public transport, bicycle or get around on foot.

Consequences of climate change

The climate change affects all parts of the world. At the moment, the polar caps are melting and the sea level is rising. The climate in other regions is becoming more extreme, with major floods or major droughts and heat waves. The effects of climate change are likely to be greater in the coming years.

Some of the consequences of climate change are:

  • Melting of the polar ice caps that is causing a rise in sea level. This causes flooding in coastal areas and the disappearance of some islands (Polynesia).
  • The cold and fresh water from the melting of the polar ice caps can change the dynamics of ocean currents, which have a regulatory role in climate.
  • Desertification due to the increase in temperature, in addition to increasing the risk of fires.
  • Some animal and plant species have problems adapting to new environmental conditions. Some species have moved to other habitats that, until now, they did not occupy.
  • Appearance of tropical diseases in places where they occurred.
  • High economic cost in sectors such as agriculture, forestry, energy and tourism, which in turn, affects the rest.

Answer in your notebook

9.5.- There is much talk about "climate change" in the media. Briefly explain what it is and express your personal opinion on climate change.