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Climate our focus on co2 alone  other climate culprits | Upload General

Our Focus On CO2 Alone: Other Climate Culprits

by: Sharai Hoekema
our focus on co2 alone  other climate culprits | Upload

At times, the current climate change debate seems like a game of Clue. It is all about the who-dunnit, where did the murder take place, and what is the murder weapon. With the unfortunate top suspect for the latter being carbon dioxide. We are all too happy to focus on this murder weapon and move on to blaming the culprits who utilised this weapon to the ultimate demise of the victim - which would, in our case, be the climate. 

Why Our Focus On CO2 Alone: Breaking The Link Between Global Warming And CO2

Yet there are other weapons. In Clue, one should figure out the murder weapon by eliminating the other options one by one. Eventually, the candlestick might have been used to kill Mr Boddy in the library - but the others cannot be discounted instantly. If this popular board game teaches us to carefully consider all possible culprits and their weapons, why do we refuse to do so in real life? In particular, when it comes to one of the greatest threats facing our existence - being climate change?

Areal, landscape, oil pumps
Deforestation, environmental destruction, oil winning influences weather paterns and at the end our climate

Too many people instantly link global warming to CO2 emissions. And no, it definitely is not wrong to instantly draw this connection. There are just many more parameters that are determinant of our climate than CO2 emissions alone. Treating one isolated symptom when faced with a gravely ill person might lead to some improvement initially, but will not prove to be the cure in the long run.

Recommended: Global Cooling Or Warming: CO2 Matters Because It Doesn’t

Only by cutting corners and fostering a climate of shortsightedness can we infer that global warming can be stopped by ‘simply’ reducing our carbon footprint, something that has already been proven far from an easy feat. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of elements that, in one way or another, affect our climate system to a larger or lesser extent. Similarly, there are dozens of ways in which CO2 plays a role in this, with the majority not directly under our control.

Other Climate Culprits: The Role Our Oceans Play In Warming The Planet

Oceans are a major component of the climate system. Their patterns and currents have a huge impact on both our short-term weather and the long-term climate. Some of the world’s most remarkable weather events stem from El Nińo and La Niña, complex weather patterns resulting from variations in the ocean’s temperature. Even a single point’s increase could act as the metaphorical butterfly flapping its wings, causing a tornado on the other side of the world.


                                                                           How do ocean currents work

 

Of course, we should not be surprised that oceans are so important to our climate - after all, they cover 71% of the earth’s surface. On top of that, they perform some pretty important functions. They are capable of storing excess carbon dioxide and generating oxygen - two prerequisites for guaranteeing (continued) life on earth. So let’s take a closer look at both functions.

Recommended: Climate Change Stop, Store CO2, Add Phytoplankton By Whales?

ship, ocean, girl, garbage
Humanity using our oceans as garbage bin!

Loss Of A Major Heat And Carbon Sink

Firstly, the oceans serve as a major heat and carbon sink, absorbing huge amounts of sunlight and carbon dioxide. Ever since our carbon dioxide emissions took off, roughly around the start of the Industrial Revolution, the oceans have used her waters, animals, and habitats to absorb quite a large share of those man-created CO2 emissions.

Recommended: Breaking: Did You Know, All You Read About CO2 Rise Is Half The Truth

Unfortunately, we have by now exceeded the storage capabilities that were available to us. This means that the chemistry of the oceans is rapidly changing, with the waters becoming more acidic. This has a dire impact on everything and everyone: we have found ourselves facing air and water temperature warming, coastal erosion, dead zones, new marine diseases, loss of animal diversity, increased rain or severe droughts, fishery declines, coral bleaching, and, of course, the rising sea levels. In turn, each of those events will continue to play their part in further degrading the oceans and, in effect, our climate. 

World’s Oceans Losing Oxygen At Unprecedented Rate

Another important function of the oceans is to provide oxygen to those living in and around it. Without oxygen, life would not be possible - making it extra hard to swallow that recent reports have claimed that the oceans are losing their oxygen at an unprecedented rate. With once again the rising temperatures to blame, oxygen is driven away from the ocean which, in effect, threatens the life of fish, plants, and marine animals. 

Recommended: Oceans Die, We Die: Oceans Life Last Warning To Us!

It has already lead to the rapid expansion of so-called hypoxic or “dead” zones, areas that are completely deprived of oxygen and therefore unable to sustain any form of life. These have indeed ‘died’, having left nothing but lifelessness. Back in the 1960s, there were 45 of such sites, a number that has skyrocketed to an incredible 700 known today - some of which cover thousands of square miles. Eventually, the further expansion of those hypoxic zones could lead to mass extinction for many sea creatures, if not for loss of their own habitat, then for loss of that of their prey.

Our Focus On CO2: What About The American Dust Bowl And European Heat Waves

Two great examples of the role other elements play in climate change: the American Dust Bowl in the 1930s and the European Heat Wave in the 1970s. During the Dust Bowl, the prairies of America and Canada were greatly damaged by severe dust storms. A severe drought teamed up with a failure to apply drylands farming methods. This caused the upper layers to get loose and thus be swept away by the wind. No CO2 influence here, but definitely extreme weather events.

people, Eiffel tower, fountain
Heatwave, France

The unrelenting heatwaves of the past few summers have often drawn comparisons with the heatwave of 1976, that swept across the British Isles and western Europe. It was one of the driest, sunniest and warmest summers ever recorded - at a time where CO2 emissions were certainly not yet at their prime. 

At the risk of sounding precocious, this just goes to say that there are ways in which climate has her way without CO2 playing a part. Man-emitted CO2 is surely the largest contributor to global warming as we know it today, but definitely not the only one. Hence, it does not hurt to look beyond it every once in a while, and see what else we can do but controlling our CO2 levels.

Before you go!

Recommended: Delay Climate Change With Submarines Which Produce Icebergs

Did you find this an interesting article or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below.
We try to respond the same day.

Like to write your own article about the climate?
Click on 'Register' or push the button 'Write An Article' on the 'HomePage'

Our Focus On CO2 Alone: Other Climate Culprits

At times, the current climate change debate seems like a game of Clue. It is all about the who-dunnit, where did the murder take place, and what is the murder weapon. With the unfortunate top suspect for the latter being carbon dioxide. We are all too happy to focus on this murder weapon and move on to blaming the culprits who utilised this weapon to the ultimate demise of the victim - which would, in our case, be the climate.   Why Our Focus On CO2 Alone: Breaking The Link Between Global Warming And CO2 Yet there are other weapons. In Clue, one should figure out the murder weapon by eliminating the other options one by one. Eventually, the candlestick might have been used to kill Mr Boddy in the library - but the others cannot be discounted instantly. If this popular board game teaches us to carefully consider all possible culprits and their weapons, why do we refuse to do so in real life? In particular, when it comes to one of the greatest threats facing our existence - being climate change? Deforestation, environmental destruction, oil winning influences weather paterns and at the end our climate Too many people instantly link global warming to CO2 emissions. And no, it definitely is not wrong to instantly draw this connection. There are just many more parameters that are determinant of our climate than CO2 emissions alone. Treating one isolated symptom when faced with a gravely ill person might lead to some improvement initially, but will not prove to be the cure in the long run. Recommended:  Global Cooling Or Warming: CO2 Matters Because It Doesn’t Only by cutting corners and fostering a climate of shortsightedness can we infer that global warming can be stopped by ‘simply’ reducing our carbon footprint, something that has already been proven far from an easy feat. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of elements that, in one way or another, affect our climate system to a larger or lesser extent. Similarly, there are dozens of ways in which CO2 plays a role in this, with the majority not directly under our control. Other Climate Culprits: The Role Our Oceans Play In Warming The Planet Oceans are a major component of the climate system. Their patterns and currents have a huge impact on both our short-term weather and the long-term climate. Some of the world’s most remarkable weather events stem from El Nińo and La Niña, complex weather patterns resulting from variations in the ocean’s temperature. Even a single point’s increase could act as the metaphorical butterfly flapping its wings, causing a tornado on the other side of the world. {youtube}                                                                            How do ocean currents work   Of course, we should not be surprised that oceans are so important to our climate - after all, they cover 71% of the earth’s surface. On top of that, they perform some pretty important functions. They are capable of storing excess carbon dioxide and generating oxygen - two prerequisites for guaranteeing (continued) life on earth. So let’s take a closer look at both functions. Recommended:  Climate Change Stop, Store CO2, Add Phytoplankton By Whales? Humanity using our oceans as garbage bin! Loss Of A Major Heat And Carbon Sink Firstly, the oceans serve as a major heat and carbon sink, absorbing huge amounts of sunlight and carbon dioxide. Ever since our carbon dioxide emissions took off, roughly around the start of the Industrial Revolution, the oceans have used her waters, animals, and habitats to absorb quite a large share of those man-created CO2 emissions. Recommended:  Breaking: Did You Know, All You Read About CO2 Rise Is Half The Truth Unfortunately, we have by now exceeded the storage capabilities that were available to us. This means that the chemistry of the oceans is rapidly changing, with the waters becoming more acidic. This has a dire impact on everything and everyone: we have found ourselves facing air and water temperature warming, coastal erosion, dead zones, new marine diseases, loss of animal diversity, increased rain or severe droughts, fishery declines, coral bleaching, and, of course, the rising sea levels.   In turn, each of those events will continue to play their part in further degrading the oceans and, in effect, our climate.   World’s Oceans Losing Oxygen At Unprecedented Rate Another important function of the oceans is to provide oxygen to those living in and around it. Without oxygen, life would not be possible - making it extra hard to swallow that recent reports have claimed that the oceans are losing their oxygen at an unprecedented rate. With once again the rising temperatures to blame, oxygen is driven away from the ocean which, in effect, threatens the life of fish, plants, and marine animals.   Recommended:  Oceans Die, We Die: Oceans Life Last Warning To Us! It has already lead to the rapid expansion of so-called hypoxic or “dead” zones, areas that are completely deprived of oxygen and therefore unable to sustain any form of life. These have indeed ‘died’, having left nothing but lifelessness. Back in the 1960s, there were 45 of such sites, a number that has skyrocketed to an incredible 700 known today - some of which cover thousands of square miles. Eventually, the further expansion of those hypoxic zones could lead to mass extinction for many sea creatures, if not for loss of their own habitat, then for loss of that of their prey. Our Focus On CO2: What About The American Dust Bowl And European Heat Waves Two great examples of the role other elements play in climate change: the American Dust Bowl in the 1930s and the European Heat Wave in the 1970s. During the Dust Bowl, the prairies of America and Canada were greatly damaged by severe dust storms. A severe drought teamed up with a failure to apply drylands farming methods. This caused the upper layers to get loose and thus be swept away by the wind. No CO2 influence here, but definitely extreme weather events. Heatwave, France The unrelenting heatwaves of the past few summers have often drawn comparisons with the heatwave of 1976, that swept across the British Isles and western Europe. It was one of the driest, sunniest and warmest summers ever recorded - at a time where CO2 emissions were certainly not yet at their prime.   At the risk of sounding precocious, this just goes to say that there are ways in which climate has her way without CO2 playing a part. Man-emitted CO2 is surely the largest contributor to global warming as we know it today, but definitely not the only one. Hence, it does not hurt to look beyond it every once in a while, and see what else we can do but controlling our CO2 levels. Before you go! Recommended:  Delay Climate Change With Submarines Which Produce Icebergs Did you find this an interesting article or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day. Like to write your own article about the climate? Click on  'Register'  or push the button 'Write An Article' on the  'HomePage'
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