Every time I start talking about climate change, people run away. Is it the smell of guilt from using your car too much, or throwing that piece of paper on the ground?
#Challengeyoplanet is a series of informative posts on climate change that aim to raise awareness among young people. Read more about the project here.
No. People care about climate change; not for the right reason though.
Most people find climate change a big topic to tackle; sort of like a human right issues. And it doesn’t matter that climate change affects the life of every single one of us living on this planet, because if it’s too complicated it won’t be discussed. Whateves, right?
But why do we need to talk about climate change?
Why has it become such a front-page deal?
I can answer that for you, friend.
WHY DO WE TALK ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE
WHAT IS CLIMATE CHANGE?
Climate change is simply a change in the Earth’s climate. Simple, not really. But see it as some sort of puberty. It is natural and bound to happen, you can’t escape it.
In the last 650,000 years the Earth has gone through seven puberties – I mean cycles – during which its glacier surface normally advance and retreat shaping the planet into something different, but mostly affecting the complex environment that lives on it. AKA Us.
You see, climate change is complex because our planet is so perfectly balanced on a chemical and dynamic level, that the tiniest change can significantly impact the whole.
So per example, 7,000 years ago the last Ice Age happened and so did we. The change in climate after the Ice Age allowed our planet to develop in a way that could allow us to live on it as humans.
Pretty incredible stuff right?
So now we can hopefully understand how incredibly important is the impact that a tiny bit of variation of climate can have on our planet.
WHAT DRIVES THE CHANGE?
Like Nasa said, most of the climate changes that happened have been attributed to tiny bit of variations to the Earth’s orbit. So basically because the path that the Earth runs around the Sun with the other planet changes a little bit, it goes to change the amount of solar energy it receives.
What do WE have to do with it, then?
Well, as you could read from the previous question, the amount of solar energy that can reach our planet is key in determining the climate we live in. We wouldn’t be able to live without the proper amount of solar energy, as it feeds us, allows us to see and live, as we would be ice-cream for polar bears.
But solar energy is not the only key player in the sustainability of our planet.
Let me introduce you to Miss Atmosphere.
“The most striking thing about our atmosphere is that there isn’t very much of it. It extends upward for about 120 miles, which might seem reasonably bounteous when viewed from ground level, but if you shrank the Earth to the size of a standard desktop globe it would only be about the thickness of a couple of coats of varnish” (Bill Bryson – A Brief History of Everything)
Our atmosphere is a blanket around the Earth that is made out of gases and that is stays like that because of the gravitational pull of the body. Pretty incredible stuff. It’s sort of like a Patronus for Earth against the amazingly powerful energy of the Sun.
It protects us from turning into popcorns from all the cosmic rays and solar ultraviolet radiation. It’s what makes us tan all nicely in summer and not turn out like a fried chicken.
After billions of years of biochemical transformation, the Earth has developed this incredible thing called atmosphere.
HOW DOES CLIMATE CHANGE AFFECT THE ATMOSPHERE?
The most important thing to keep in mind is that the atmosphere hangs out with our planet only if the temperature is low and the gravity is high. So what happens when the temperature of the atmosphere isn’t low enough?
It affects us. Real bad.
When we burn fossil fuels – and we burn A LOT OF THEM – we dump a huge amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and it rises the temperature of the atmosphere, creating a e heat-umbrella over our planet. It’s called greenhouse effect.
It’s like we are trapped into one of those snowing crystal balls; and when we keep producing constant heat and dumping toxic particles in the air, because they can’t go anywhere else they get absorbed by the ocean and our lands.
Are you scared, yet?
Each year, humans release 40 billions tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, which amounts to an average of about 5.5 tons for every person on the planet.
Do you still want to take the car to go to that place?
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT OUR LAND AND OCEANS?
Plants and trees are heroes.
They absorb all of the nasty stuff and filter it into clean and fresh air that we can breathe in.
But this is when it gets complicated.
Because we are in constant mode of consuming, producing and wasting, we need more space and faster production times. So what does take space? Trees and plants.
Also, when we found out that we could use trees as a material to produce many things that have shaped our modern society, we not only started cutting them for fun, but also burned them for fuel.
Not to mention that forests naturally suffer from wildfire when temperatures get too high, or we get too reckless with our littering behaviour.
So deforestation – aka getting rid of trees – is responsible for 3 billions tons of atmospheric CO2 a YEAR.
Yes, go hug a tree.
What about the ocean?
When the ocean absorbs the CO, which BTW it accounts for 90% of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases, it becomes more acidic and it goes to affect the balance of the wildlife and its food chain.
People think that it’s unfortunate because marine life is wonderful and we all love Finding Nemo, but it’s more serious than it actually seems.
THE PHYTOPLANKTON – a tiny hero of the marine life – is a microscopic plant that is at the basis of the world’s marine food chain and it also accounts for MORE THAN HALF OF THE EARTH’S OXYGEN.
If you don’t care about the PHYTOPLANKTON, you’re Voldemort.
So WHY DO WE NEED TO CARE?
If I have to answer for you then I have probably written this for nothing. But I am positive that everyone can understand this.
This isn’t sustainable. This is like when you are out all night and you think you can wake up in the morning to for a run, or go to work, but it’s not going to happen and then you wake up the next day and you absolutely hate yourself from even thinking that you could do it.
This is more serious than this, because if we don’t care about what is going on; if we don’t care about the trees, the tiny marine plant and the atmosphere and one another, there won’t be a tomorrow to wake up for.
There will be a huge mess of fire, or ice, or any other element that will come out from burning and wasting so much in our lifetimes.
So that’s why we need to pay attention.
That’s why we care.
KEEPING UP WITH THE #COP21 -30th November
As I have specified here, I am also going to keep you updated on the conference in a short and easy to understand way, as life is already boring as it is. If you are not sure about what is going on in Paris other than terrorist attacks and pain-au-chocolat, this article will answer all of your questions. (Click here)
- Rich entrepreneurs and founders of companies we all like have decided (once again) to hang out all together in Paris and founded and presented the Breakthrough Energy Coalition. The coalition is made of 25 investors and it aims to spark a new economic revolution that will invest in green energy technologies in order to inspire other businesses to do the same. Zuckeberg, Bill Gates and Richard Branson are a few of the big techno guys of the coalition.
- 11 Countries promised to donate $248 US billions to the climate fund of Global Environment Facility (GEF) that will support the most vulnerable countries in adapting immediately to the negative impacts of climate change. Australia was not one of them.
- Everyone gave speeches and they were meant to be three-minute long but took over 20 minutes on average. Nice words to cover small actions, maybe?
- German, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland announced the Transformative Carbon Asset Facility, an initiative that will invest $500 millions in finding new ways to rewarding developing countries to combat climate change. It’s basically like a game. If you cut emissions, you get money. (x)
- Coalition of close to 40 governments have promised (again) to commit to speed up the reduction of fossil fuels, starting from getting rid of fossil fuels government subsidies, which allow the prices of oil to stay low, but that they also drive this extreme consumption of it. Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull seems to be snoozing on actual changes in Australia’s climate policy. How groundbreaking.
- India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced an international solar alliance of over 120 countries. The allience would be based in India, partnered by companies that are not really that ethical; but India’s aim is to draw 40% of its energy from renewables by 2030.
AND THAT’S ALL FOR TODAY, FOLKS!
Follow on Twitter @challengeyoasss (yes, with an extra S for Sass and Science) fore more live updates.
SOURCES FOR THIS POST.