Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Climate Change

Climate change is caused by an increase in the earth’s temperature. Natural causes can include volcanic activity, a change in the energy from the sun and variations in the earth’s orbit around the sun.

There is little evidence of dramatic changes in any of these factors sufficient to account for the dramatic temperature increases of the past few decades, and scientists have concluded that the main cause is the increase of the gases water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere. These gases trap the sun’s energy which reaches the earth’s surface, and reduce the amount reflecting back into space, thus warming the earth’s surface.

The major source of the increased gases is human activity, which has significantly increased these gases since the industrial revolution. The major causes are the burning of fossil fuels for energy generation and transport, and agricultural activities (land clearing, fertiliser use, flood irrigation and stock all produce greenhouse gases).
 4% of carbon emissions come from industrial processes
 7% come from agriculture – for example methane emissions from livestock and manure, and nitrous oxide emissions from chemical fertilisers. Agriculture has been shown to produce significant effects on climate change, primarily through the production and release of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide.
 21% carbon emissions from transport
 65% come from the use of fuel to generate energy (excluding transport)
 About 40% of carbon emissions in developed countries are the result of decisions taken directly by individuals. The biggest sources of emissions for most people are likely to be:
 energy use in the home (the main use is heating)
 driving a car
 air travel
There are other elements of people's homes that contribute to climate change indirectly. Everything, from furniture to computers, from clothes to carpets, all use energy when it is produced and transported – and this causes carbon emissions to be released.

It is important, first to understand what a precious resource rainforests play in our world. They form part of a delicate ecosystem that has taken millions of years to evolve.

Rainforests every year help to absorb almost 20% of man made CO2 emissions therefore deforestation can be classed as a major contributor to the causes of climate change. Cutting down rainforests faster than they can be replaced has a devastating effect on the carbon emission cycle producing an extra 17% of greenhouse gases. Remember trees absorb CO2. More deforestation means more CO2 build up in the atmosphere.

To reduce the future impacts of climate change, we obviously need to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases we put into the atmosphere – in particular, we need to reduce the amount of carbon.
 develop less polluting energy generation, transport and other industry
 new agriculture methods
 re-forestation
 use less animal products, especially in food
 storage of carbon rather than allow it to enter the atmosphere

There are some actions we can all take – eat less meat, use more energy efficient transport and use less energy at home (avoid air conditioners!). But the most important response we can make is to support political action to provide incentives for more efficient energy generation, transport, industry, mining and agriculture by being willing to pay more for goods and services. The result, our cost of living will increase – either by taking remedial action now, protecting our planet and the lives of millions of people, or by continuing to condemn millions of people to disaster and paying the inevitable cost of the problems which climate change will bring. The choice is for each one to make. You decide.

See you tomorrow.
Until then, take care, bye.

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