Climate change can be defined as a change in climate variables, especially temperature and rainfall that occur gradually over a long period of time between 50-100 years.
The changes caused by human activity (anthropogenic) should be understood, especially those related to fossil fuel consumption and over-land.
These changes caused by natural factors, like additional aerosols from volcanic eruptions, are not accounted for in terms of climate change.
So the natural phenomena that lead to extreme climatic conditions such as cyclones can occur in a year (inter-annual) and El-Nino and La Nina, which can happen in ten years (inter-decade) cannot be classified into global climate change.
Human activity has led to this imbalance, especially in the form of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. These gases then affect the temperature increase.
Climate change has a very profound effect on our day-to-day life even if we do not think about it. Recently we are seeing instances where our weather patterns have changed and there is an increase in erratic climatic conditions all over the globe.
The sudden climatic changes that are occurring have been attributed mainly due to global warming.
Identifying The Challenge
All over the world, there are many countries that are underdeveloped and have extremely poor waste and sanitation management systems.
Of equal importance and impact are the fully developed countries that have booming economies, and as these countries concentrate on their growing economy our planet is left behind in the wreckage.
Part of the issue is that we have allowed our corporations, governments, and even ourselves, to neglect the environment, and slack in our duties and responsibilities as environmental stewards.
Now climate change is becoming more and more self-evident. In the not so distant past, people were able to live comfortable lives as they were adjusted to the climate and environment, but our own activities have caused the climatic changes, which are leaving us very uncomfortable and already causing great crises for many coastal communities.
The temperature during the summer is on the rise and some places are experiencing very harsh winters. Ocean temperatures are increasing, causing a massive change to currents, marine life, and habitats. The effects of climatic changes are affecting people, wildlife and each one of our personal environments.
In basic terms, defining global warming is often stated as ‘the increase in temperature of the earth’s surface and atmosphere’.
The major reasons cited of climatic change are the burning of fossil fuel, the greenhouse gases released in the emissions from houses, factories, cars etc.
This in conjunction with a massive decrease in forests in nearly every nation around the world has left the current state of planet Earth in poor health.
Observable Changes in Climate
These increasing climatic changes have caused the melting of glaciers in the Polar Regions (Antarctica), with the occurrences of large number of hurricanes, tsunamis, high variations in climate change in the rainfall distribution etc. in recent times due to the increase in temperature there have been formation of high and low-pressure regions which have caused these conditions.
Through carelessness and ignorance, we have allowed the conditions to persist that allow for on-going severe climatic changes, thereby causing destruction to our own property.
Hurricanes, rising ocean levels, drought and other changes have been devastating to both man, animals and native vegetation.
Is There A Serious Threat?
Due to this sudden change, there has already been a great destruction of property, loss of many lives, the occurrence of diseases, floods etc. around the world.
Another effect of global warming has been that due to depletion of the ozone layer, there is no barrier again to prevent the harmful rays from the sun.
Thus making the temperature increase and also increases chances of skin cancer due to the ultraviolet rays. These rays sometimes can also create mutations which will be transmitted to next generations and can cause genetic disorders.
The melting of ice has led to a slow increase in the sea level and if this persists, it will lead to complete submerging of many islands under the sea in the future years to come.
What Will The Impact Be?
Starting from the agricultural sector, all agriculture will be affected through the reduction of food productivity caused by the increase in cereal sterility, availability of water, reduction in an area that can be irrigated and decrease the effectiveness of nutrient absorption and the possible spread of pests and diseases.
In some places in the developed (high latitudes) increase in carbon dioxide concentration will increase productivity because of increased assimilation, but in the tropics that most developing countries, an increase of assimilation was not significant compared with respiration which is also increased.
On the whole, if adaptation is not done, scientists estimate that the world will experience a decline in food production of up to 7%.
What Will Be The Solution?
However, with continued levels of adaptation, meaning high costs, food production can be stabilized.
In other words, stabilization of food production on climate change will cost us very high, for example by the improvement of irrigation facilities, provision of inputs (seeds, fertilizers, insecticides/pesticides) added.
Like in Indonesia, the scenario of co² concentrations has doubled the current rice production.
Impact on Local Ecosystems
Warmer temperatures will cause a shift in vegetation species and the ecosystems. Mountain areas will lose many species of original vegetation and will be replaced by lowland vegetation species.
Along with this, the condition of water resources from those mountains will also be susceptible to interference making it hard to keep the original vegetation.
This impact is not so apparent in the low latitude areas or low elevation area. Indonesia provides another curious example as more and more forest fires are becoming common; most (if not all) incidents of forest fires are caused by human activities either directly or indirectly associated with land clearing.
These fires occur in conjunction with the El-Nino events because this phenomenon provides the dry weather condition that helps the occurrence of fire incidents.
Impact on Urban Areas
Also increasing of the population makes pressure on water supply, especially in the urban areas.
At the moment there are lots of urban residents who have difficulty getting clean water, especially those who are low income, uneducated and unskilled.
The impact of climate change which causes changes in temperature and rainfall will have an impact on the availability of water from the surface runoff, groundwater and other reservoir shapes for such people.
What Can We Do?
The harsh effects of the climatic changes have made people think about the reasons for the importance of global warming.
It has caused an increase in the effort by people to reduce global warming by switching to different energy source other than fossil fuels, recycling, planting trees, electricity conservation, and even awareness programmes. Indeed, nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something, and even the littlest efforts all add up.
Even all the governments or the world are now signing treaties and undertaking projects to reduce global warming and thus prevent severe climatic changes.
If we want to ensure that there are no more adverse climatic changes then we need to take a bold step to prevent global warming so as to ensure that earth is a place to live for the next generation.
*This article was originally published at mountainandsea.org.