Our Changing Climate
What is climate change?
In the modern world, climate change has become a significant problem in the world. Climate change refers to changes of earth's weather which includes atmospheric temperature, wind patterns, rainfall which is caused by greenhouse gases, Carbon dioxide produced by human activities. A greenhouse is an air-tight store room made of glass or transparent plastic, used to plant seedlings and grow plants in. When bad weather stays outside, warm rays of sun penetrate the walls of the greenhouse and warm up the interior. The soil and the plants store the heat, and the flowers and vegetables thrive magnificently. The exact process happens when Earth’s atmosphere is covered with Carbon dioxide. It acts as the glass walls of the green house and prevents the solar rays entered into the Earth from escaping and the planet gets increasingly hotter. It has always been happening throughout the whole history, what has become more dramatic is that we human beings are becoming increasingly more aware of the effects of climate change and we are beginning to realize that we are responsible for the situation.
Effects of climate change
Cities are concentrated areas and pollution can be seen in cities more than in rural areas. Therefore the sensitivity of cities to climate change is naturally high. Accelerated sea level rise and increased intensity of heat waves, both due to global warming is among the notable problems caused by climate change. However, the extent of climate change effects will vary with the ability of environmental systems to mitigate or adapt to change. This report mainly focuses on the problems caused by climate change and evaluating the possible strategies that could be practiced.
Climate change is the cause of many problems faced by humans in the modern world. Global warming is a significant aspect which causes increase in the magnitude and frequency of heat waves. In the cities along the rivers, extreme floods become more frequent and food and water borne diseases tend to increase. Other health issues caused by climate change include heat and cold related mortality. Glaciers are melting and sinking, ice on rivers and lakes is breaking up earlier, plant and animal ranges have shifted and trees flowering sooner are frequent events happening around the world and all caused by climate change. In the mountain areas, occurrence of soil erosions and landslides has grown a tendency to occur more frequently. According to intergovernmental panel on climatic change (IPCC) scientists have confidence that global temperature will continue to rise & they have forecast a temperature rise of 2.5-10 Fahrenheit in the next century. Climate change can also affect demand, availability and quality of water. When average atmospheric temperature is increased, the demand for cooling water is also increased which results in increasing the overall demand for water. Accordingly water based effects affect economic sectors such as agriculture, energy, health, fisheries and navigation. However, the effects of climate change may vary according to the region, country or catchment area which will affect long term economic growth.
Production of CO2 – facts and figures
In 1991, 22 billion tons of Carbon dioxide was pumped into the atmosphere worldwide. In 2006 it was 29 billion. In the same fifteen years, China doubled its share in the production of CO2 from 2.8 to 5.3 tons. In Germany, the production was reduced from one billion to 880 million tons. The USA produce 6.5 billion tons, which is around 22 per cent of the total amount.
What can we do?
There are three types of solutions that could be put forth to prevent current and further impacts of climate change. They Are mitigation, adaptation and planning strategies.
Taking precautions to reduce the high level of gas emission which is the main cause of climate change is defined as mitigation strategy. Economic growth, growing waste and lack of green spaces are the major factors contributing air pollution. In the recent years, there are many cities who have achieved the goal of cleaning and reducing the emissions to a greater extent. With a long term growth and sustainability plan (PlaNYC 2003), New York has reduced the gas emission in the city by 30% from 2005. Another renowned city is Makassar, which contributed to the abatement of greenhouse gas emissions by hosting UNFCCC endorsed clean development mechanism project. It was projected at Tamangapa, one of the city’s major landfill sites. They collected and destroyed methane from the waste materials disposed by factories and a certain amount was used to generate electricity. Makassar was awarded the Blue Sky award from the ministry of environment and from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Environmentally sustainable cities working group, for its efforts in reducing air and environmental pollution. Naturally tress play a major role in reducing air pollution and more green space will lead to more limitation of air pollution.
Adaptation strategies is another method of coping with the climate change. It includes measures taken to adapt to the change of climate. At the city scale risks of heat extremes are significant. Studies carried out in a number of cities show that overall increase of heat can be decreased with suitable adaptation methods such as heat alert systems. A city which has considerably adapted to the effects of climate change is Hanoi in Vietnam. Because of the rise of sea level, tendency of floods has increased in the city along the red river. They have developed a water adaptation programme which included strengthening the dykes along the river and improving and encouraging dyke management teams. The programme also allowed the river to flow without disturbances which reduced the threat of floods.
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Planning strategies include proposing and suggesting particular solutions to the effects of climate change. Urban institutions have aims to improve urban living conditions and are able to build climate change resilience. Studies have shown that due to exposure to risk by their living conditions, lack of infrastructure and social services, urban poor in cities are more vulnerable to climate change. A significant financial aid is needed to address these risks and social services should be ensured by incorporating climate change risk reduction actions. Asia Pacific cities have concentrated considerably on this subject. In 2006 Makassar launched a planning regulation which focused on increasing the city’s green space. They planned to convert urban cities to urban forests which will serve as lungs for the city. Many countries are focusing far more on renewable energy: wind, water and solar energy.
The whole world is in danger
Climate change affect the humans when it affects the environment and sensitivity of cities to these risks are high which will affect more than half of the people in the world who live in cities. From low lying coastal areas which are vulnerable to storm surges, to mountainous areas which face landslides and soil erosion, the whole world is affected by the climate change. With the development of technology the risks are increased due to the reduction of green spaces in the world. With various strategies including mitigation, adaptation and planning methods, the risks of the climate change can be reduced. Although mitigation strategies need a considerable amount of effort to work out, they can be long term solutions for the problem which is suitable for the future world. If we can succeed in halving the amount of CO2 we pump into the atmosphere by 2050, we will have made a significant contribution towards decelerating the climate change. To achieve that, people from all over the world must make a huge common effort.
If we want to maintain our environment and its surrounding, we need to change our self according to our environment need. We need to help and provide support to our government in order to achieve bigger goals.
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