Climate change can be defined as profound and increased changes in the global distribution of weather patterns for an extended period of time. It is associated with an increase in global temperatures. Climate change can also be termed global warming due to the very fact of it being related to an increase in average temperatures across the world (Bulkeley, Harriet &Newell). Climate change is caused by, among other factors, changes in solar radiation to the earth’s surface, volcanic eruptions, plate tectonics, and human activity. Human activity has been blamed as the most devastating driver of climate change. The rest of the causes are more subtle and natural, and thus do not aggressively drive climate change to the extremes and thus do not carry a greater burden as humans’ activity does. The human activities implicated as having the greatest responsibility for climate change include sustained and prolonged use of fossil fuels and reckless deforestation without replacement measures. Climate forcing mechanisms are the factors that shape the climate in the long term and can be either internal or external. Internal factors are those are within the climate itself, and are largely natural; while external factors are those driven by humans while others are natural but indirectly related to climate. Evidence for global warming is gotten from observation of physical features such as changes in the sea levels, dendrochronology, ice cores, decrease in arctic sea ice, precipitation, cloud cover patterns, and vegetation. Climate change has been blamed for such happenings as prolonged droughts, floods, storms, and extreme deviations in weather patterns. Such methods as the measurement of world global temperatures, levels of Carbon Dioxide and other greenhouse gases, sea levels, and ice levels are used to assess global warming. Going by this elaboration, it is therefore only reasonable that we seek to understand more about climate change in order to mitigate it and its consequences.
As more and more concern has risen over the increasing unpredictability and distribution of weather patterns across the world, the scientific community has found itself having to find the answers for us all as to how and why climate change occurs. This has made it necessary for them to refine the existing methods used to assess changes in weather patterns over long periods of time; as well as come up with new ways of doing it at a more refined scale. Some of these methods include the Keeling Curve which was developed in 1958 by Charles Keeling in Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, United States. This curve is used to assess the atmospheric levels of CO2. The curve is a plot of the carbon dioxide levels recorded for a given period of time. Secondly, Streamflow records are used to assess the changes in amounts of water flow in various areas over a given duration. Accumulation of these recordings is then used to plot a hydrograph that is used to define whether there is an increase or decrease in levels, and to be able to establish reasons for various findings. Thirdly, paleoclimatology has become increasingly significant in this subject. It helps unearth data from such items as rocks and fossils and uses this to create a prediction of past climatic conditions. This then provides a basis of comparison with the currently prevailing conditions. Some other methods that have become useful include studies of sea levels, vegetation, arctic sea ice levels, glaciers, weather patterns and distribution, air pollution and animals and their behavior. These studies provide important data that can be analyzed and used to monitor changes that can be directly linked to environmental conditions arising from global changes in the climate for a long period of time.
The above methods have been exploited to a great extent and have been able to yield significant results that are used to justify that climate change has occurred and continues to do so. The Keeling curve has become a poster child in the field of science as it provides a greater detailed and representation of the atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide (Nelson, and Nelson). The curve demonstrates ever-increasing levels of carbon dioxide gas in the air. NASA’s Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) project has been significant in demonstrating rising ocean levels. The instrumental recordings of temperatures across the world; together with radiosonde balloons recording and satellite data has shown an increase in the global average in temperatures. Recordings assembled by the World Glacier Monitoring Service have demonstrated an increase in glacier shrinkage. As regards arctic ice levels, satellite data show that comparisons with 1981 and 2010 data illustrate a great decrease in sea ice levels. This decline has been calculated to be about 13.2 percent. Satellite images have become increasingly important in the measurement of sea levels, and recent data collected in conjunction with altimeter data have shown that sea levels have been going up and continue to do so.
The great array of alterations caused by changes in climatic conditions as been evidenced by the findings outlined above has had a proudly great negative impact across the world. The increase in the average global temperatures is attributed to an increase in levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The gases arise from people using fossil fuels. These gases have a phenomenon of forming a sort of a blanket on top of the atmosphere. What this does is to contain most of the heat reaching the surface of the earth from the sun from escaping. This leads to increased temperatures on the surface of the earth. This then creates a vicious cycle that transcends to the oceans to account for the melting and shrinkage of ice, for example as detailed in the decrease in the shrinkage of Arctic ice and reduction in its formation thus leading to decreased levels. This then results in the rise in sea levels (Gergel et. al.). The increased number and extent of droughts and floods in various regions that these aspects have been foreign have also been attributed to alterations in temperatures, in addition to rampant and widespread deforestations. Droughts and floods have put a lot of pressure on people across the world in terms of decreased food security as well as the displacement of people from their dwelling places (Walsh et. al). Extreme weather also contributes to the worsening of tropical storms such as Hurricane Katrina. Despite the overwhelming evidence in support of the reality of climate change and its disastrous effects, there have been witnessed climate change deniers. These are the people who refuse to either acknowledge the existence of climate change or to attribute the changes in climate change as arising from human activity. This narrative has been especially pushed by corporations that benefit a lot from the trade of fossil fuels; as well as individuals who have little regard for science and its methods. Greater focus should be put into solving climate change and its impacts. This includes regulating use of fossil fuels as well as coming up with alternatives that would render fossil fuels untenable and thus be avoided altogether. These alternatives should look into increased penetration of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and geothermal (‘’Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’’).
In conclusion, climate change has been established as existing. It is caused by both natural events as well as human activities, of which the latter has greater consequences. Various methods of scientific examination have confirmed that climate change is with us. Climate change has been to have a great and transcending impact on the way of life as well as human life itself as it disrupts social structures as well as economic factors. Climate change has a great impact on not only what happens in a dry land, but also in the oceans. This, therefore, means that even marine life is also greatly impacted negatively by this phenomenon. It is abundantly clear that climate change is a reality that we must live with at the moment. This is because climate change is a phenomenon that takes a long time to occur and also a lot of time to change. Thus in the short term, we need to adapt. However, it must be approached with a greater strategy in order to attain desirable results in the long term. Greater education should also be encouraged in order to bring everyone on board as regards the reality of climate change. Seeing that it is possible to mitigate climate change and its consequences, greater investment should be made in order to attain this for future generations as well as for our planet and all that dwells in it.
Bulkeley, Harriet, and Peter Newell. Governing climate change. Routledge, 2015.
Gergel, Diana R., et al. “Effects of climate change on snowpack and fire potential in the western USA.” Climatic Change 141.2 (2017): 287-299.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Climate change 2014: Mitigation of climate change. Vol. 3. Cambridge University Press, 2015.
Nelson, Michael D., and David B. Nelson. “Oceans, Ice & Snow and CO2 Rise, Swing and Seasonal Fluctuation.” International Journal of Geosciences 7.10 (2016): 1232.
Walsh, Kevin JE, et al. “Tropical cyclones and climate change.” Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 7.1 (2016): 65-89.