Friday July 20, 2018

Y-Speak: Climate change: Man’s undeniable contribution in hot boxing planet Earth

IN THE last decades that followed, climate change had already made a huge impact on the planet. Oceans have risen, polar caps have melted, and species in the land and water slowly died from sudden temperature spikes, and ocean acidification are just some of the few harsh byproduct of human neglect.

The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is very likely human-induced trauma. Proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented in the last millennia.

It was only in 1988 when a notice on climate difference was finally acknowledged; sensing and recording that climate was warmer than any period since 1880.

Satellites that orbited the earth and other technological advances have enabled scientists to see the bigger picture. Gathering many different types of information about our planet and its climate on a global scale.

The body of data collected over many years revealed the signals of a changing climate.

Ice cores drawn from Antarctica, Greenland, and tropical mountain glaciers show that the Earth’s climate did respond to changes in greenhouse gas levels. In the past, it also showed that large changes in climate have happened very quickly, geologically-speaking: in tens of years, not in millions or even thousands.

Rise in sea level, global temperature rise, warming of the ocean, shrinking ice sheets, declining Artic sea ice, glacial retreat, extreme events, ocean acidification, and decreased snow cover are just of the impact climate changed had brought.

"If you had a satellite view of the planet in the summer, there is about 40 per cent less ice in the Arctic than when Apollo 8 [in 1968] first sent back those photos [of Earth]," Bill McKibben, world renowned environmentalist and fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences told Al Jazeera, "Oceans are 30 percent more acidic than they were 40 years ago. The atmosphere is four per cent more wet than 40 years ago because warm air holds more water than cold air. That means more deluge and downpour in wet areas and more dryness in dry areas. So we're seeing more destructive mega floods and storms, increasing thunderstorms, and increasing lightning strikes."

So far human greenhouse gas emissions have raised the temperature of the planet by one degree Celsius.

"Climatologists tell us unless we get off gas, coal, and oil, that number will be four to five degrees before the end of this century," said McKibben, "If one degree is enough to melt the Arctic, we'd be best not to hit four degrees."

The heat-sealing nature of CO2 (carbon dioxide) and other gases was demonstrated in the mid-19th century and their ability to affect the transfer of infrared energy through the atmosphere is the scientific basis of many instruments flown by NASA. There is no question that the increased levels of greenhouse gases caused the Earth to warm in response.

What’s even more terrifying is that not only does climate change diversely affect our planet, and the animals in our surrounding, but our health as well.

Last year in California alone, at least 65 people, unknowingly, had died inside their lofts because of the intense heat waves.

Brian Schwartz is a professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

"Increasing temperatures cause direct health effects related to heat; there will be more common events like the 30,000 to 50,000 persons who died in Europe in 2003 due to the heat wave there," Professor Schwartz told Al Jazeera, "Increasing temperatures also cause more air pollution, due to photochemical reactions that increase with higher temperatures. This will cause more morbidity and mortality from pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases."

Schwartz, who is also the co-director of the Programme on Global Sustainability and Health, said that lack of clean water, a phenomenon that is also a product of climate change, will lead to increases in morbidity and mortality from a variety of water-borne diseases.

In addition, vector-borne diseases, diseases in which the pathogenic microorganism is transmitted from an infected individual to another individual by an arthropod or other agent, will change in their distribution as the climate changes.

But there are ways people can still reverse this effects by decreasing human carbon footprint. Carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).

And this can reduce by: Getting involved, and to take a few minutes to contact your political representatives and the media to tell them you want immediate action on climate change. Constantly remind them that reducing greenhouse gas emissions will also build healthier communities.

By being energy efficient unplugging computers, TVs and other electronics when not in use. Wash clothes in cold or warm (not hot) water. Simply put in mind to switch off any appliance you do not intend to use.

To choose renewable power if you can. Ask your utility to switch your account to clean, renewable power, such as from wind farms.

To eat wisely by buying organic and locally grown food and avoiding processed items. Grow some of your own food. And eat low on the food chain — at least one meat-free meal a day — since 18 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions come from meat and dairy production.

By trimming your waste since garbage buried in landfills produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Keep stuff out of landfills by composting kitchen scraps and garden trimmings, and recycling paper, plastic, metal and glass.

Get informed and Follow the latest news about climate change and what you can do now.

By greening your commute. Transportation causes up to about 60 per cent of world’s greenhouse gas emissions, so walk, cycle or take transit whenever you can.

By supporting and donating many organizations that help educate people about the real effects of climate change.


The writer, Kyle Kristoffer M. Baldos, is a student of Ateneo de Davao University.