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We always hear about it, but do we really know what it really is? Throughout the globe, Climate Change is a pressing concern that has both environmental and human impacts. Let us familiarize ourselves with the key terms related to this global concern, especially since knowledge is the key to action.
Climate is the general weather pattern in a specific area that involves temperature, humidity, rainfall, air pressure and other meteorological variables over a long period of time. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), climate is the average weather condition based on 30 years of observation.
2. Climate Change
The long-term shift in weather patterns in a region is defined as Climate Change. This includes changes in precipitation, temperatures, sea levels and many more. It is also a phenomenon brought by the increased emission of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.
According to Dr. Rosa Perez from the Climate Change Commission (CCC), Climate Change can be caused by natural occurrences or induced by humans. Natural causes include the sun’s activity, volcanic eruption and other natural events that contribute to the warming of the earth.
But the problem now is that Climate Change has worsened due to human activities, such as burning of fossil fuels, clearing of forests, improper waste management and production of industrialized products.
Several studies about Climate Change show that it could lead to these extreme weather events and unusual changes in the ecosystem:
– Increase in global temperature
– Sea Level Rise
– Retreat of glaciers and melting of sea ice
– Changes in precipitation
– Heat waves, tornadoes, stronger typhoons and heavy rainfall
– Longer, more severe droughts
– Expansion of subtropical deserts
– Species endangerment and extinction and loss of biodiversity
– Melting of permafrost
– Decline in agricultural yields
– Spread of vector-borne diseases because of increased range of insects
– Ocean acidification and destruction of coral reef
3. Greenhouse Gas & Greenhouse Effect
Greenhouse gas (GHG) is a chemical compound found in the Earth’s atmosphere. Composed of carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor, and other man-made gases, Greenhouse gases keep our planet liveable by holding in the heat energy of the Earth. These gases allow much of the solar radiation to enter the atmosphere, warming the planet’s surface. Some of this energy is reflected back towards space.
Without greenhouse gases, the Earth will be an icy wasteland. But the problem we face right now is the increasing amount of GHGs in the atmosphere. The more greenhouse gas molecules, more heat is also trapped in the atmosphere due to greenhouse effect. And we all know that too much heat can be just as fatal as the lack of it.
4. Global Warming
The interaction between the earth and incoming radiation from the sun leads to global warming. It is the gradual heating of the Earth’s surface, oceans and atmosphere.
5. Sea Level Rise
Sea level rise, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is the increase in the mean level of the ocean. It is caused by two factors: added water from the melting of land ice, and expansion of water as it warms. Simply put, due to the warming of the Earth, more glaciers or land ice tend to melt. Also, when water is heated, it expands.
6. Fossil Fuels
Fossil fuels are non-renewable resources that formed from prehistoric plants and animals buried by layers of rock or soil millions of years ago. These include oil, coal and natural gas. The formation of a fossil fuel depends on different factors, such as the combination of organic matter, how long it was buried, and its exposure to temperature and pressure.
7. Renewable Energy
Renewable energy is energy naturally regenerated or replenished over a short period of time. Some are derived directly from the sun like thermal or photochemical enegy. Other forms of renewable energy are wind, hydropower, geothermal and tidal.
Using renewable energy will help in combating the impacts of Climate Change because these do not produce greenhouse gases, unlike fossil fuels.
Policies and measures aimed to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions fall under mitigation. It includes reducing the demand for emission-intensive goods or services, while increasing the demand for low-carbon technologies. Mitigation also includes coping with the causes of Climate Change.
Adaptation is adjusting to natural or human systems in response to Climate Change. This could also serve as a practical step to protect communities. If mitigation is coping with the causes or the root of Climate Change, adaptation is coping with its effects.
Examples of Climate Change adaptation is putting up the partial drainage of the Tsho Rolpha glacial lake in Nepal, changing livelihood strategies in response to permafrost melt in Nunavut, Canada, and water management in Australia. In the Philippines, sea walls were built in the coastal areas of Leyte to protect the community from the impact of a storm surge.
V20 refers to the 20 countries that are highly vulnerable to Climate Change impacts. These are low and middle-income, small and developing countries which usually experience the adverse effects of the changing climate. These include Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Maldives, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Ghana, Nepal, East Timor, Barbados, Kenya, Philippines, Tuvalu, Bhutan, Kiribati, Rwanda, Vanuatu, Costa Rica, Madagascar, Saint Lucia and Viet Nam.