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Rising Temperatures: Should we be worried?

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Why Climate Change is an urgent Topic?

“Climate change is no longer some far-off problem; it is happening here, it is happening now.”

 – Barack Obama

While Covid-19 has swept society off her feet, the threat posed by global warming remains unmoved. As human activities boom, there is an increase in carbon emissions, escalating temperatures, and unpopular weather and melting polar ice are possible effects.

The topic of climate change is gaining steam in mainstream discussions as one of the most impactful environmental challenges of our time. It is true that climate has changed a lot within the Earth’s 4.5-billion-year history. But the Swift warming experienced now cannot be explained only by natural cycles of warming and cooling. This is visible in climatic changes that would normally happen over hundreds of thousands of years, happening in decades. Even though climate normally fluctuates, scientists say temperatures are now rising faster than normal. In 2019, the earth’s surface temperature was around 0.95 Celsius degrees warmer than the 20th century average. If the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been on the rise since the industrial revolution, then today’s climate change would be more anthropogenic (man-made) climate change. This is the warming of Earth’s average temperature as a result of human activity, such as burning coal, oil and gas to produce energy to fuel our homes and transport and cutting down trees to produce the food we eat.

Climate change is a reality and in case you’re unaware, this is how it looks:  more frequent flooding, a longer and more costly wildfire season, and droughts. There have been arguments as to whether global warming is a reality or a myth. Here’s how you feel the reality of global warming; according to WMO (World Meteorological Organization) the world is about one degree Celsius warmer than before widespread industrialization.  The past 22 years, have been the warmest and the average sea level has globally increased by 3.6mm per year between 2005 and 2015.

All these are linked to the greenhouse effect, which describes how the Earth’s atmosphere traps some of the sun’s energy. Solar energy radiating back to space from the Earth’s surface is absorbed by greenhouse gases and re-emitted in all directions. An example of a greenhouse gas with the greatest impact is water vapor. But it remains in the atmosphere for only a few days. Carbon dioxide (CO2), however, persists for much longer. Like investing in your retirement, the sooner we take action, the better chance we have at preventing the direst impacts of our rapidly warming world.

Many often wonder why we should be talking about climate change and how it affects us. Well, this is exactly where unchecked climate change can land the world:  could cause fresh water shortages, dramatically alter our ability to produce food, and increase the number of deaths from floods, storms and heatwaves. This is because climate change is expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather events.  Weather and climate are connected to major health challenges: Climate change infections such as diarrhea, dengue fever, malaria, and meningitis. It is directly associated with natural disasters such as floods, cyclones, and droughts, causing huge health concerns for millions around the world. It contributes to the dispersion of airborne hazardous materials. It causes other health challenges, like widespread heat stress, increased air pollution, high pollen concentrations in the air and changes in UV radiation. Higher risk of heatstroke is another aftermath of climate change to watch out for. When core body temperature reaches 40.5°C (105°F) due to a failure of the internal body’s temperature control system, it causes adverse health consequences, such as complications involving the central nervous system and cardiovascular and respiratory systems failure, leading to morbidity and mortality.

With persistent rising temperatures, we may wonder how much temperatures will rise in the nearest future, and this is the more reason why climate change needs to be treated as a matter of urgency: the fact that in just the past few decades, rising temperatures have worsened extreme weather events, chunks of ice in the Antarctic have broken apart, wildfire seasons are months longer, Coral reefs have been bleached of their colors and Mosquitoes are expanding their territory, able to spread disease. The change in the global surface temperature between 1850 and the end of the 21st Century is likely to exceed 1.5C, most simulations suggest. The WMO says that if the current warming trend continues, temperatures could rise by 3-5C by the end of this century. Temperature rises of 2C had long been regarded as the gateway to dangerous warming. More recently, scientists and policymakers have argued that limiting temperature rises to 1.5C is safer.

In addition to the Paris Climate Agreement held in 2015 where nearly 200 countries pledged to reduce emissions and keep temperature rise well below 2° C (3.6° F), we are encouraged to continue developing practical tools and new habits to curb the damaging effects of climate change. We can commence the adaptation of these efforts to our surroundings by implementing mitigation and thoughtful urban planning, else like – Philip Hammond puts it, we will not be able to “keep our promise to the next generation to build an economy fit for the future…” We should also be tickled to the fact that climate change is not only an environmental issue – it is a humanitarian, economic, health, and justice issue as well.” – Frances Beinecke.

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