A frequently asked question when discussing climate change is, why now? It can be baffling that for centuries, seasons and weather patterns were, on average, constant. Now, all of a sudden, temperature levels are spiking, polar ice and glaciers are melting. The sea levels are increasing, along with many other alterations in climate and the environment. This turn of events begs the question, what changed?
Climate change is caused by series of human activities that the planet has borne over time, which have stretched it to its breaking or near-breaking point.
Look at it as blowing air into a balloon. When the balloon is flaccid, it is at its strongest thickness. But as you blow air into it, it stretches thinner and thinner till it can’t stretch any further and then it bursts. Only in this case, the time it takes you to blow the balloon is thousands of years. The air being blown represents the effects of human activities. On accumulation will inevitably alter the normal course of climate action.
The leading causes of climate change are categorized into three:
Drastic Increase in the Use of Fossil Fuels
Many machinery and power generation run on fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas. Electricity, transportation and industrial processes are dependent on this as a source of energy. However, where the problem lies is that the combustion of these fuels emits greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, which trap and retain heat in the atmosphere.
With the increased usage comes the accidental spills that occur during the drilling process, transportation and use. The spills harm humans, animals and the environment hence the hashtag #KeepItInTheGround started by indigenous groups. Suppose you visit communities where the mining of these fossil fuels takes place. In that case, you will notice the large-scale environmental degradation of those communities and its adverse effect on the people’s livelihood. The people and animals suffer from all manner of sickness. The water bodies and land are polluted and no longer able to provide the sustenance they require.
Plants and trees, as we know, absorb and store carbon dioxide. So, they can help cushion the effects of the gas in the atmosphere. It, however, becomes a problem when these trees are cut down en masse, worse still, without planting new ones in their place.
Intensive Agriculture Practices
The use of fertilizers releases nitrous oxide. The decomposition of dead farm animals and plants gives off methane, both of which are greenhouse gases, contributing to global warming.
In answering why now, take a closer look at these causes, and you’d realize they are more current practices today than years ago. Our ancestors didn’t use fossil fuels or electricity but survived by using traditional transportation methods (walking, animal riding, cycling) and general living. Deforestation wasn’t an issue, too, and they grew their crops naturally. As a result, are things the same now as they used to be then?
What effects have come into play due to the disparity in lifestyle? This will be our discussion for tomorrow.
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