What is Climate Change?

Climate change is real, and it is really something serious that people downplay a whole lot. The problem is that most people don’t really understand what it really is, and what causes it. The truth is, the climate is changing each and every day. There are many different problems that are leading to our climate change, some of them having to do with the Greenhouse Effect, and other changes are occurring due to human activity and solar irradiance. The earth is becoming hotter, whether we want to admit it or not. Here is what is happening.


Causes of Climate Change

Man-made Factors

The Greenhouse Effect

First, we need to take a closer look at the Greenhouse Effect and gain a better understanding of it. When you do this, you will find that this is one of the main causes of the climate changes that are taking place currently. The warming of our atmosphere is actually happening because the atmosphere is continuing to trap the heat that radiates from the earth and traps it between earth and space. There are gases that can play a part in the greenhouse effect, and most of these gases will actually block the heat. This is what happens to force the climate change, and this is the part that we can’t do that much about- other than going green.

Gases that Play a Part in Climate Change

Here are a few of the gases that can play a part in climate change.  First, you will find water vapor. This is the most abundant gas that plays a part in the Greenhouse Effect. It increases because the earth is getting warmer, and it also makes more clouds and precipitation.

Carbon dioxide also plays an important role, even though it is one of the more minor components in our atmosphere. It can be found through a variety of different processes, including respiration, volcanic activity, deforestation, fossil fuel burning, and others. The carbon dioxide that is found in our atmosphere continues to increase, making the climate change much more prominent these days than before.

Next, you will find that methane gas also plays a part. This is a hydrocarbon gas that is produced through a variety of different processes and sources. It can be produced through decomposition of trash in landfills, and can also be found a lot around places with a lot of domestic livestock. These gases are active in the greenhouse effect, leading to more climate change.

CFCs, or chlorofluorocarbons, which are basically synthetic compounds that are created in the industrial setting, also play a part. They are usually what plays a part in the depletion of the ozone layer. The more the ozone layer is depleted, the hotter our earth will get.

Finally, you have nitrous oxide. This is another type of gas that is often times formulated from the soil when it is cultivated. It is used in many of the fertilizers that you find in your local stores, and can also be formed by the combustion of fossil fuels and other processes. It is one of the other gases that has an impact on our climate change.

Natural Factors

Volcanic Eruptions: A volcano releases large amount of sulphur dioxide (SO2), water vapour, dust, and ash into the atmosphere, when it erupts. These large volumes of gases and ash can trigger climate change by increasing planetary reflectivity causing atmospheric cooling. Aerosols are tiny particles that are are produced by volcanoes. Aerosols remain in the atmosphere for only a few days and reflect solar energy back into space they have a cooling effect on the world.

Ocean Currents: Variations in ocean currents can also influence climate change for short periods of time. Ocean currents move vast amounts of heat across the planet. Movement of cold water deep under the oceans towards the regions near the equator and movement of warm water near the equator back towards the pole play an important role in determining the atmospheric concentration of CO2.

Solar Radiations: The sun is the ultimate source of supply of energy for earth’s climate system. A small change in the output of sun’s energy can influence the climate change. These changes include changes within the sun and changes in Earth’s orbit. Changes occurring in the sun can cause climate to become more warm during periods of stronger solar intensity and cool during periods of weaker solar intensity. Studies suggests that solar variations have played a role in past climate change. For example, period between approximately 1650 and 1850 is known as “Little Ice Age” which may have been partially caused by a low solar activity.

Earth Orbital Changes: A slight change in the tilt of the earth can lead to climatic changes. While less tilt means cooler summers and milder winters; more tilt means warmer summers and colder winters. These small and slow changes can lead to important changes in the strength of the seasons over tens of thousands of years.


Effects of Climate Change

Climate change can really have a lot of negative consequences. It is important to do something about it to help decrease the amount of change that occurs and make it not happen so fast. At some point, the earth will be too hot for people to live comfortably if we don’t make some changes. It is already having and impact on the plant and animal life, and if you really don’t want to see it get much worse- it is time to go green.

Change in Rainfall Patterns: In last couple of decades, excess rainfall, droughts, hurricanes and floods have become quite frequent. While few areas experience plenty of rainfall, then there are areas that face droughts throughout the year.

Depletion of Arctic Ice: Though greenhouse effect is necessary for all of us to survive on this planet but an increase in greenhouse gases causes temperature to rise which can result in harmful effects to the ecology and environment. The increase in temperature of atmosphere has resulted in shrinking of arctic ice.

Wildfires: The hot and dry conditions causes wildfires to spread across dense forests and makes it a perfect recipe for disaster. They not only reduce green cover but also push forest animals towards higher altitudes. Animals that could not survive become extinct and gets their name registered in the list of endangered species.

Heat Waves: The large amount of greenhouse gases released from industries, vehicles, agricultural activities increases the concentration of CO2 and heats up the atmosphere. The increased temperature then cause heat waves and makes it difficult for people to survive.

Loss of Wildlife Species: Wildfires, deforestation, shifting habitat have caused several species to become extinct, pushed few of them towards extinction and rest of them have migrated to some other place. If experts are to be believed, one-fourth of Earth’s species could extinct by 2050. In year 2008, polar bear was added to the list of animals that could become extinct due to rise in sea level.

Rise in Sea Level: Some parts of the earth are going to naturally be warmer than others, but as the climate changes that means that so will these areas.  Warmer conditions may also lead to other areas not getting enough precipitation, and even some areas that may get more than they should.  It will also cause parts of glaciers to melt, which could lead to flooding in certain areas and could make the sea levels rise.

Shifting Habitat: Prolonged heat waves, deforestation, wildfires, high temperatures have pushed plants and animals towards higher altitudes. The worst part is that most of them are not able to survive due to changing climatic conditions and have moved more towards extinction.

High Temperatures: The continuous increases of greenhouses gases in the atmosphere has caused temperature to rise which is called as greenhouse effect. Though greenhouse effect is necessary for survival of all of us on this planet but increase of these gases beyond a limit will only create harmful effects for us and this environment. During last century, earth’s average temperature rose by 1 degree Fahrenheit which in itself is a cause of concern.

As you can see, climate change can really be a negative force on our planet earth. It is time for you to take a look at the things that can be done to help improve the environment and help to slow down the process of climate change. If we can do that, then the world will be able to be sustainable for much longer. That doesn’t mean that climate change is completely avoidable though.

Image credit: hmcotterill , Twm


Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.