Climate

About: <p>Climate change! Currently, the most discussed topic in the world. <a href="https://www.whatsorb.com/category/climate">Climate change&nbsp;</a>occurs when changes in Earth's climate system result in new&nbsp;weather&nbsp;patterns that last for at least a few decades, and maybe for millions of years. Climate change can also result from &lsquo;external forcing&rsquo; and include changes in solar output and volcanism.</p> <p>Human activities can also influence our climate. Debates, posts and answers on (social) platforms about the role of humanity in the climate change process regularly lead to heated discussions</p> <p>If there was an urge to come up with a sustainable way of living solutions and share these topics globally it&rsquo;s now! WhatsOrb Global Sustainability X-change Platform is for you, storytellers and influencers to write about tiny houses, your experiences and expectations for the future at home and globally.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Global Sustainability X-change, that&rsquo;s what you can do together with WhatsOrb.&nbsp;<a href="https://www.whatsorb.com/blog/your-shared-sustainable-ideas-make-our-earth-a-better-place">What's in for me?</a></p>
Close Welcome writers, influencers and dreamers, make the world a greener place
Register here
Forgot password
Forgot password
or
or

Close
Close For sustainability news hunters! The WhatsOrb newsletter!

Receive monthly the newest updates about sustainability from influencers and fellow writers. Cutting edge innovations and global environmental developments.

Close For sustainability news hunters! The WhatsOrb newsletter!

Receive monthly the newest updates about sustainability from influencers and fellow writers. Cutting edge innovations and global environmental developments.

Close Reset password
your profile is 33% complete:
33%
Update profile Close
Close WhatsOrb Global Sustainability X-Change

For writers, influencers and dreamers who want to make the world a greener place.

WhatsOrb reaches monthly about 7000 thousand visitors who want - like you - to make the world a greener place. Share your expertise and all can benefit.

Become an influencer and write and share sustainable news and innovations globally
Are you a writer or do you have ideas about sustainability which you want to share? Register and share your green knowledge and news. WhatsOrb offers you global exposure for your article.

If your article meets certain standards, you receive promotional gains like Facebook promotions and Google Ads advertising.



Climate categorybanner Natural

MenuMenu
CO2 At Current Levels Will Cause A High Sea Rise: 16 Meters
Scientists discover evidence that sea-evel rises because of the current atmospheric carbon dioxide. In a Mallorcan cave, they found 4-million-year-old geologic evidence giving them new insight into magnitude global sea-level rise. Sea Rise: 16 Meters An international team is studying the evidence, which is preserved in the coastal cave in Mallorca. The evidence illustrates that three million years ago, the Earth was two to three degree Celsius warmer than the pre-industrial ear. Sea level was 16 meters higher than at this moment. Their findings foresee important implications and understandings about the current-day sea level rise. With these new findings, they can predict the rapidity of sea-level rise in a warming climate. {youtube}                                                  CO2 At Current Levels Will Cause A High Sea Rise: 16 Meters                                                                   The State of Sea Level Rise (2019)   CO2 At Current Levels Will Cause A High Sea Rise The sea level is rising as a result of the ice caps which are melting, such as those of Greenland and Antarctica. But how much and how fast the sea level will rise during global warming is a question that scientists have tried to answer. Reconstructing the ice sheet and the changes in sea level in recent periods, when the climate was naturally warmer than it is today, offers a global laboratory experiment to study this question. This is according to USF PhD student Oana Dumitru, the principal author, who has done much of her data work at UNM under the direction of Asmerom and Polyak. "Limiting models of sea-level rise due to increased global warming depends to a large extent on actual sea level measurements in the past," says Polyak. "This study provides sea-level measurements very robustly during the Pliocene. "We can use the knowledge we have gained from past warm periods to fine-tune ice sheet models which are then used to predict the future response of the ice sheet to current global warming," says Bogdan Onac, professor at the USF Department of Geosciences. Recommended:  Delay Climate Change With Submarines Which Produce Icebergs Changes Can Be Seen In Artà Cave, Mallorca The project centralises on cave deposits known as phreatic overgrowths on speleothems. Every time ancient caves were flooded by rising sea levels, you could see the phreatic excesses at the interface. "Changes in sea level in Artà Cave can be caused by the melting and growth of the ice sheets or by the elevation or subsidence of the island itself," says Columbia University Assistant Professor Jacky Austermann, a member of the research team. She used numerical and statistical models to carefully analyse how much increase or decrease may have occurred since the Pliocene and subtracted it from the height of the formations studied. Artà Cave, Mallorca "Given current melting patterns, this degree of sea-level rise would most likely be caused by a meltdown of both Greenland and the Western Antarctic Ice Sheets," said Dumitru. The writers also measured sea level at 23.5 meters higher than about four million years ago during the Pliocene Climate Optimum, when global average temperatures were up to four °C higher than pre-industrial levels. "This is a possible scenario if no active and aggressive reduction of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is undertaken," said Asmerom. We need to do something, to diminish sea level rise. Recommended:  Climate Change Natural Man Made: Causes And Facts What Can We Do To Help? Global warmth is unstoppable, but if we emit less CO2 worldwide, it will slow down. We can make some changes in our home. Avoid food waste. We waste a lot of food, and it is not necessary. You did not have to buy the food that disappears into your trash can unused. After all, you did not need it. By purchasing food wisely, storing it well and cooking it to size, you can prevent food from being wasted. You can save up to 210 kilos of CO2 per person per year. Also, if you eat less meat that will help as well. Travel by train instead of plane or car to your holiday destination. Read more about global warmth and CO2-emission to see how you can help the Earth. Recommended: 'Flygskam’: The Trend Of Scandinavian Shame Of Flying 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.
Scientists discover evidence that sea-evel rises because of the current atmospheric carbon dioxide. In a Mallorcan cave, they found 4-million-year-old geologic evidence giving them new insight into magnitude global sea-level rise. Sea Rise: 16 Meters An international team is studying the evidence, which is preserved in the coastal cave in Mallorca. The evidence illustrates that three million years ago, the Earth was two to three degree Celsius warmer than the pre-industrial ear. Sea level was 16 meters higher than at this moment. Their findings foresee important implications and understandings about the current-day sea level rise. With these new findings, they can predict the rapidity of sea-level rise in a warming climate. {youtube}                                                  CO2 At Current Levels Will Cause A High Sea Rise: 16 Meters                                                                   The State of Sea Level Rise (2019)   CO2 At Current Levels Will Cause A High Sea Rise The sea level is rising as a result of the ice caps which are melting, such as those of Greenland and Antarctica. But how much and how fast the sea level will rise during global warming is a question that scientists have tried to answer. Reconstructing the ice sheet and the changes in sea level in recent periods, when the climate was naturally warmer than it is today, offers a global laboratory experiment to study this question. This is according to USF PhD student Oana Dumitru, the principal author, who has done much of her data work at UNM under the direction of Asmerom and Polyak. "Limiting models of sea-level rise due to increased global warming depends to a large extent on actual sea level measurements in the past," says Polyak. "This study provides sea-level measurements very robustly during the Pliocene. "We can use the knowledge we have gained from past warm periods to fine-tune ice sheet models which are then used to predict the future response of the ice sheet to current global warming," says Bogdan Onac, professor at the USF Department of Geosciences. Recommended:  Delay Climate Change With Submarines Which Produce Icebergs Changes Can Be Seen In Artà Cave, Mallorca The project centralises on cave deposits known as phreatic overgrowths on speleothems. Every time ancient caves were flooded by rising sea levels, you could see the phreatic excesses at the interface. "Changes in sea level in Artà Cave can be caused by the melting and growth of the ice sheets or by the elevation or subsidence of the island itself," says Columbia University Assistant Professor Jacky Austermann, a member of the research team. She used numerical and statistical models to carefully analyse how much increase or decrease may have occurred since the Pliocene and subtracted it from the height of the formations studied. Artà Cave, Mallorca "Given current melting patterns, this degree of sea-level rise would most likely be caused by a meltdown of both Greenland and the Western Antarctic Ice Sheets," said Dumitru. The writers also measured sea level at 23.5 meters higher than about four million years ago during the Pliocene Climate Optimum, when global average temperatures were up to four °C higher than pre-industrial levels. "This is a possible scenario if no active and aggressive reduction of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is undertaken," said Asmerom. We need to do something, to diminish sea level rise. Recommended:  Climate Change Natural Man Made: Causes And Facts What Can We Do To Help? Global warmth is unstoppable, but if we emit less CO2 worldwide, it will slow down. We can make some changes in our home. Avoid food waste. We waste a lot of food, and it is not necessary. You did not have to buy the food that disappears into your trash can unused. After all, you did not need it. By purchasing food wisely, storing it well and cooking it to size, you can prevent food from being wasted. You can save up to 210 kilos of CO2 per person per year. Also, if you eat less meat that will help as well. Travel by train instead of plane or car to your holiday destination. Read more about global warmth and CO2-emission to see how you can help the Earth. Recommended: 'Flygskam’: The Trend Of Scandinavian Shame Of Flying 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.
CO2 At Current Levels Will Cause A High Sea Rise: 16 Meters
CO2 At Current Levels Will Cause A High Sea Rise: 16 Meters
Climate Change Causes Nature To Change: The World Affected
Climate Change Causes Nature To Change: The World Affected is the third article in a series of 6 on the topic of climate change. One of the most important consequences of climate change is the capability that it has to irreversibly change the world around us. This statement should not be news to you, nor should it be surprising. Yet it never hurts to emphasise just how much the world is affected by the actions that we take today. Climate change is moving ahead at a rapid pace, with various animals, plants and even microbiota scrambling to catch up. All around the world, species are being displaced, forced to move to different lands that are safe(r) and provide (more) sufficient nutrition. We are facing a true Diaspora of not just species, but businesses, people and diseases being spread out around the world as well.   This trend was, most likely, first recognised in shrubs. In the 19th century, willows in the Alaskan Arctic did not get much taller than a small child. They were perfectly suited for their environment and managed to balance the ecosystem. However, as temperatures rose as a result of increased fossil fuel emissions, effectively lengthening the growing seasons, shrubs grew spectacularly - up to double their original size. Now, there were some moose who considered these shrubs to be a particularly tasty meal. Before the 20th century, they did not bother to cross the Brooks Range, the mountain range stretching from northern Alaska to Canada’s Yukon Territory. They knew that the lands to the north did not have much to offer. That is, until they slowly started migrating over the range less than a century ago. Today, they can be found meandering all along the Arctic rivers - now that the vegetation is tall enough to withstand layers of snow and able to withstand the more moderate temperatures. Not much later, the hares followed - snacking on the same plants and enjoying the same new lands. Moose and hares are now becoming a fixture in the diet of indigenous Alaskan hunters, as they are facing difficulties hunting for their ‘original’ meal - consisting of seals, that have now been driven away by the melting ice. It is a cycle that is easily recognised as the so-called butterfly effect: a relatively minor adjustment has had far-reaching consequences and is impacting the local environment on an increasingly larger scale. Thousands of those effects put in motion by climate change can be pointed out, with human-caused climate change radically changing the life of all beings inhabiting this earth. Plant and animal species tend to find that place where they are most likely to thrive, and with changing temperatures and environments, this may be in a completely different place than before.   We, as humans, also have to deal with this changing ‘diet’ of animals and plants; while they bring along diseases and pests previously unknown to the areas that we live in. Similarly, our carefully built up businesses and industries, often relying on certain natural resources, have to shift accordingly. The term Diaspora that I used before might not even fully cover this drastically changing global landscape.   Germs and Pests on the March   Today, we are battling outbreaks of malaria in areas further north and at higher altitudes in countries such as Colombia and Ethiopia, with mosquitos being able to survive the milder temperatures uphill. In northern Texas, the potentially fatal tropical disease leishmaniasis has claimed its first victims - having been carried up north by sand-flies hosting the parasite. It is not just our health that is suffering these adverse effects. Agriculture is suffering as well, with crop pests expanding their territories. There are diamondback moths, feasting on the vegetables grown by urban farmers, who have recently moved into South Africa. Then there are the numerous funguses and pests creating havoc on Latin America’s coffee plantations. France is facing a similar problem, with their olives, wines and lavender under siege.   Not everyone is losing, though. A number of those migration patterns have led to more favourable circumstances for some: the Atlantic mackerel, for instance, has moved so far up north that it entered the Icelandic waters. Now, the country is enjoying a large share of the market previously held by Europe alone.   So we cannot really say that it is all bad. It is just changing - and requiring us to change and adapt along with it, good or bad as it may be. The point is that wildlife is, in fact, feeling the effects of climate change; impacting us humans in ways we are only starting to see the first motions of. Watch out for oak processionary caterpillars The oak processionary caterpillar has made headlines in The Netherlands in recent weeks. For an insect this small, it is rather surprising to see how quickly it has become the subject of a national crisis. It first set foot in the small European country in 1991, in the far south. Over the years, it has steadfastly increased its geographical range, with climate change nudging it further north-east. There are a lot of oak trees in the south of the Netherlands, which coincidentally make up its favourite snack. From mid-May to mid-July, this has prompted a rather strange sight: oak trees all wrapped in red-white warning tape. These trees are, in fact, infested with the oak processionary moth (or ‘eikenprocessierups’, as it is known locally). These are poisonous, capable of causing significant discomfort to humans and animals alike - its most prominent symptom being severe itching. The affected trees will find themselves being woven in silky nests surrounding their branches and trunks, which does not just occur in forest areas but also in densely populated areas, including those lining streets in cities and towns. Even if you avoid those trees altogether, you might still feel their literal sting: the caterpillar has bristles that can be fired when a threat is perceived, and which can be carried by the wind for up to 500 meters. Enough to affect those living around it. This only goes to show how a tiny species, previously unknown to an area, can start to dominate a defenceless ecosystem within some short decades. Half of All Life Is Moving The oak processionary crisis is not an exception. The general consensus is that species will move when facing a radical shift in their environment. It has been this way for centuries. Our ancestors already knew that they had to find different hunting grounds when seasons would change. So it is not necessarily surprising that species are moving or changing their range as climate change moves along. What is surprising, though, is its pace. Recently, an inventory was made of over 4,000 species all around the world. The results amazed friend and foe: over half of those were actively ‘on the move’. Land-living creatures are moving at 10 miles per decade, while marine species tend to move up to four times quicker. These are just averages. Some individual species are moving a lot faster. The Atlantic cod, for instance, moves more than 125 miles per decade. It is not just the physical location that is changing. The biological cycles are quick to follow suit as well. Amphibians, like frogs, have been found to be breeding about eight days earlier with each passing decade. Birds and butterflies are shifting their cycles in a similar fashion, with about four days per decade. Historical research has shown that in Concord, Massachusetts, plants are now flowering some 18 days earlier than they did in the 1850s.   While those might be too subtle to perceive, people all over - from Asia to Europe and over the Atlantic to America - are finding that springtime jumps upon us sooner than it used to, with trees and shrubs leafing out and animals initiating mating rituals earlier in the season. Something like this can change our ecology as a whole. Another striking conclusion is that we cannot possibly predict where this will lead us. Although we are able to connect the dots on the majority of changes, we cannot possibly predict all the ways in which species are to respond to the changing environment. Shifts occur at different paces and are triggered by different signals.   Some species respond favourably to rising temperatures, while others are more in tune with the change in sunlight or precipitation: Californian mountain plants have been observed moving downhill as climate change has brought more precipitation to the valleys. It is not just the existing species that are adapting to the changing circumstances. New hybrid species are developing as well: having already been found in toads, sharks, butterflies, bears and trout, just to name a few. Climate change is changing ecosystems and throwing species together that were previously kept separate, allowing them to interbreed.   Other species are put at risk of extinction, with them unable to find a good new ecosystem and/or their favourite food supplies having moved out of reach or dwindling altogether. In West Greenland, for instance, young caribou are dying in large numbers as their mothers are unable to eat sufficient plants during the calving season, leaving them weak and vulnerable. Bumblebees find that their favourite plants have already flowered before they emerge, leaving them scrambling to find their food supplies and unable to pollinate. In nature, timing is crucial - and these examples point out where exactly timing is threatening species in their very survival. Eventually, this will become visible on a larger scale - possibly even leaving us, humans, with shortages and ecological issues that cannot easily be resolved.   Some more animals threatened by climate change All in all, predictions have been made that by the year 2100, about 50% of all the species inhabiting our world could go extinct as the result of climate change - be it through one of the ways described above, or novel ways that we have not even began to observe just yet. Animals that may depend on us taking action today include bumblebees, whales, elephants, giraffes, insects, marine birds, sharks, coral reefs, butterflies and apes. All innocent victims of our lust for more energy and power, who will find themselves in a shrinking or polluted habitat with dwindling food supplies.   No matter where you live, you will undoubtedly find that the species that occupy your habitat are struggling as well; as are the farmers, who are dealing with pests, infected crops and other diseases affecting their businesses. Eventually, we will all suffer the consequences. The world has already been affected and will, if you were to travel 200 years in time, ultimately become utterly unrecognisable.   https://www.whatsorb.com/category/climate
Climate Change Causes Nature To Change: The World Affected is the third article in a series of 6 on the topic of climate change. One of the most important consequences of climate change is the capability that it has to irreversibly change the world around us. This statement should not be news to you, nor should it be surprising. Yet it never hurts to emphasise just how much the world is affected by the actions that we take today. Climate change is moving ahead at a rapid pace, with various animals, plants and even microbiota scrambling to catch up. All around the world, species are being displaced, forced to move to different lands that are safe(r) and provide (more) sufficient nutrition. We are facing a true Diaspora of not just species, but businesses, people and diseases being spread out around the world as well.   This trend was, most likely, first recognised in shrubs. In the 19th century, willows in the Alaskan Arctic did not get much taller than a small child. They were perfectly suited for their environment and managed to balance the ecosystem. However, as temperatures rose as a result of increased fossil fuel emissions, effectively lengthening the growing seasons, shrubs grew spectacularly - up to double their original size. Now, there were some moose who considered these shrubs to be a particularly tasty meal. Before the 20th century, they did not bother to cross the Brooks Range, the mountain range stretching from northern Alaska to Canada’s Yukon Territory. They knew that the lands to the north did not have much to offer. That is, until they slowly started migrating over the range less than a century ago. Today, they can be found meandering all along the Arctic rivers - now that the vegetation is tall enough to withstand layers of snow and able to withstand the more moderate temperatures. Not much later, the hares followed - snacking on the same plants and enjoying the same new lands. Moose and hares are now becoming a fixture in the diet of indigenous Alaskan hunters, as they are facing difficulties hunting for their ‘original’ meal - consisting of seals, that have now been driven away by the melting ice. It is a cycle that is easily recognised as the so-called butterfly effect: a relatively minor adjustment has had far-reaching consequences and is impacting the local environment on an increasingly larger scale. Thousands of those effects put in motion by climate change can be pointed out, with human-caused climate change radically changing the life of all beings inhabiting this earth. Plant and animal species tend to find that place where they are most likely to thrive, and with changing temperatures and environments, this may be in a completely different place than before.   We, as humans, also have to deal with this changing ‘diet’ of animals and plants; while they bring along diseases and pests previously unknown to the areas that we live in. Similarly, our carefully built up businesses and industries, often relying on certain natural resources, have to shift accordingly. The term Diaspora that I used before might not even fully cover this drastically changing global landscape.   Germs and Pests on the March   Today, we are battling outbreaks of malaria in areas further north and at higher altitudes in countries such as Colombia and Ethiopia, with mosquitos being able to survive the milder temperatures uphill. In northern Texas, the potentially fatal tropical disease leishmaniasis has claimed its first victims - having been carried up north by sand-flies hosting the parasite. It is not just our health that is suffering these adverse effects. Agriculture is suffering as well, with crop pests expanding their territories. There are diamondback moths, feasting on the vegetables grown by urban farmers, who have recently moved into South Africa. Then there are the numerous funguses and pests creating havoc on Latin America’s coffee plantations. France is facing a similar problem, with their olives, wines and lavender under siege.   Not everyone is losing, though. A number of those migration patterns have led to more favourable circumstances for some: the Atlantic mackerel, for instance, has moved so far up north that it entered the Icelandic waters. Now, the country is enjoying a large share of the market previously held by Europe alone.   So we cannot really say that it is all bad. It is just changing - and requiring us to change and adapt along with it, good or bad as it may be. The point is that wildlife is, in fact, feeling the effects of climate change; impacting us humans in ways we are only starting to see the first motions of. Watch out for oak processionary caterpillars The oak processionary caterpillar has made headlines in The Netherlands in recent weeks. For an insect this small, it is rather surprising to see how quickly it has become the subject of a national crisis. It first set foot in the small European country in 1991, in the far south. Over the years, it has steadfastly increased its geographical range, with climate change nudging it further north-east. There are a lot of oak trees in the south of the Netherlands, which coincidentally make up its favourite snack. From mid-May to mid-July, this has prompted a rather strange sight: oak trees all wrapped in red-white warning tape. These trees are, in fact, infested with the oak processionary moth (or ‘eikenprocessierups’, as it is known locally). These are poisonous, capable of causing significant discomfort to humans and animals alike - its most prominent symptom being severe itching. The affected trees will find themselves being woven in silky nests surrounding their branches and trunks, which does not just occur in forest areas but also in densely populated areas, including those lining streets in cities and towns. Even if you avoid those trees altogether, you might still feel their literal sting: the caterpillar has bristles that can be fired when a threat is perceived, and which can be carried by the wind for up to 500 meters. Enough to affect those living around it. This only goes to show how a tiny species, previously unknown to an area, can start to dominate a defenceless ecosystem within some short decades. Half of All Life Is Moving The oak processionary crisis is not an exception. The general consensus is that species will move when facing a radical shift in their environment. It has been this way for centuries. Our ancestors already knew that they had to find different hunting grounds when seasons would change. So it is not necessarily surprising that species are moving or changing their range as climate change moves along. What is surprising, though, is its pace. Recently, an inventory was made of over 4,000 species all around the world. The results amazed friend and foe: over half of those were actively ‘on the move’. Land-living creatures are moving at 10 miles per decade, while marine species tend to move up to four times quicker. These are just averages. Some individual species are moving a lot faster. The Atlantic cod, for instance, moves more than 125 miles per decade. It is not just the physical location that is changing. The biological cycles are quick to follow suit as well. Amphibians, like frogs, have been found to be breeding about eight days earlier with each passing decade. Birds and butterflies are shifting their cycles in a similar fashion, with about four days per decade. Historical research has shown that in Concord, Massachusetts, plants are now flowering some 18 days earlier than they did in the 1850s.   While those might be too subtle to perceive, people all over - from Asia to Europe and over the Atlantic to America - are finding that springtime jumps upon us sooner than it used to, with trees and shrubs leafing out and animals initiating mating rituals earlier in the season. Something like this can change our ecology as a whole. Another striking conclusion is that we cannot possibly predict where this will lead us. Although we are able to connect the dots on the majority of changes, we cannot possibly predict all the ways in which species are to respond to the changing environment. Shifts occur at different paces and are triggered by different signals.   Some species respond favourably to rising temperatures, while others are more in tune with the change in sunlight or precipitation: Californian mountain plants have been observed moving downhill as climate change has brought more precipitation to the valleys. It is not just the existing species that are adapting to the changing circumstances. New hybrid species are developing as well: having already been found in toads, sharks, butterflies, bears and trout, just to name a few. Climate change is changing ecosystems and throwing species together that were previously kept separate, allowing them to interbreed.   Other species are put at risk of extinction, with them unable to find a good new ecosystem and/or their favourite food supplies having moved out of reach or dwindling altogether. In West Greenland, for instance, young caribou are dying in large numbers as their mothers are unable to eat sufficient plants during the calving season, leaving them weak and vulnerable. Bumblebees find that their favourite plants have already flowered before they emerge, leaving them scrambling to find their food supplies and unable to pollinate. In nature, timing is crucial - and these examples point out where exactly timing is threatening species in their very survival. Eventually, this will become visible on a larger scale - possibly even leaving us, humans, with shortages and ecological issues that cannot easily be resolved.   Some more animals threatened by climate change All in all, predictions have been made that by the year 2100, about 50% of all the species inhabiting our world could go extinct as the result of climate change - be it through one of the ways described above, or novel ways that we have not even began to observe just yet. Animals that may depend on us taking action today include bumblebees, whales, elephants, giraffes, insects, marine birds, sharks, coral reefs, butterflies and apes. All innocent victims of our lust for more energy and power, who will find themselves in a shrinking or polluted habitat with dwindling food supplies.   No matter where you live, you will undoubtedly find that the species that occupy your habitat are struggling as well; as are the farmers, who are dealing with pests, infected crops and other diseases affecting their businesses. Eventually, we will all suffer the consequences. The world has already been affected and will, if you were to travel 200 years in time, ultimately become utterly unrecognisable.   https://www.whatsorb.com/category/climate
Climate Change Causes Nature To Change: The World Affected
Climate Change Causes Nature To Change: The World Affected
Climate Change Natural Man Made: Marching Towards Extinction
Climate Change Natural Man Made: Marching Towards Extinction is the second article in a series of 6 on the topic of climate change.   In Climate Change Natural Man Made: Causes and Facts , we took a deep-dive in the history, science and geography surrounding climate change. Now that we have gotten a basic understanding of what factors play an important role in the changing of our climate, we must look beyond the CO2. Yes, climate change is a complex issue that is never easy to discuss. Although it should be discussed frequently and fervently to avoid the ‘end of days’ so often cited by activists. This second article looks at the playing field that we, humans, created. It will discuss the forces within the world population itself that drive or hinder any efforts to counter climate change. It will look at the different societies, differing opinions across different geographic regions.   It will also look at groups who have a specific vested interest in the topic - like the fossil fuel industry, governments, the food and sugar industry, and lobbyists. But also at environmental groups, activists and innovators. Both sides of the board will be heard and assessed to get the answer to the most important question: who is on board to tackle climate change? Ignoring climate change? Is it too heavy?       The answer to the question above should be obvious. After all, who would not be on board to tackle a potentially catastrophic, mass-life-wiping-out event? Yet somehow, it has not been as straightforward. This funny thing called human psychology is really messing up what would be a clear plan moving forward.   It looks as if we have become immune to people telling us that we have just boarded a train that is racing down an unfinished track to eventually plummet off a deadly cliff. Yes, we know there are a bunch of stations in-between, where we can get off and ensure our safety. But after the fifth call announcing this sure and imminent death, we just do not feel as alarmed anymore.   In the past, this inconvenient little switch in our brain was actually quite helpful. Do you think cavemen ever worried about the next month? The next year? Or even a couple of years down the road? Chances are they were more concerned with finding food and shelter for the next few nights instead.   Survival instincts, which have always been a key element of our evolution, dictate that we look at the danger right in front of us - be it a sable tooth tiger or a taxi swerving towards us when crossing the street - and prioritise this over perhaps more significant dangers down the road. ‘We’ll cross that bridge when we get there’ has become an international motto, it seems, indicating that we leave any problem solving of pressing issues to the last possible moment. And while it may have indeed been a good idea to run away and hide when faced with a mad woolly mammoth instead of worrying about next year’s crops, this rarely ever applies today. We actually tend to avoid situations that scare us or make us uncomfortable as much as possible.   The truth is, we just do not like talking about ‘bad’ things. This thing called the probability bias is letting us ‘rationalise’ (or, more accurately, ‘irrationalise’) away things that we just want to avoid. We estimate the chances of it impacting us personally as too low to really care about. This leads to us being utterly helpless when it does in fact really happen. Whether it is us not being insured for floods or tornadoes (‘what are the odds of that happening to me’) or not taking action against climate change (‘it will surely last my lifetime’) - we just do not seem to care enough until it is too late. According to Norwegian psychologist Per Espen Stoknes, the level of concern regarding climate change has never been lower in rich Western democracies - dropping steadily as the pile of climate science-related research actually grew larger. He blamed this on five barriers that explain this seemingly irrational behaviour: distance, dissonance, doom, denial and identity. Climate change is simply too distant (in both actual proximity and time).   And while we know that we ought to save the polar bears and really care about these poor animals losing their habitat, we just cannot bring ourselves to really do something about it - even though we know we should. This is the dissonance that, coupled with the feeling of distance, lets us ignore the issue rather than take a stand. What are the conditions where the transit must take place? There is, however, a scientific way around this. Or so George Marshall thinks, specialist in climate change communications and writer of ‘ Why Our Brains Are Wired To Ignore Climate Change ’. His claim is that we are much more likely to accept information if we are given a certain narrative. We should feel like it matters to us personally, it should be relatable.   Giving people a personal interest in climate change will rapidly change both their attitudes and actions. Scientific blah-blahs and statistics are just not rocking our boat. Instead, we must get in the minds of people and find out how they are thinking. What they are thinking. We should look at the people that they like, their leaders, and get them to transmit a message that is both accurate as well as relatable to their followers. Yes, this is already quite the job. After all, the world seems more polarised than ever before, with countries, religions, cultures, individuals, political parties and organisations occupying opposite ends of pretty much any spectrum. Opinions are seemingly becoming more extreme, often leaving little room for finding the ‘middle ground’.   This growing difference in opinion is often strictly correlated to the role someone plays in society. The wealth gap between the poorest and the richest is growing at an alarming pace, creating the ideal habitat for unrest. Those in the upper classes are mainly looking out to protect their share, while those who are not as lucky are screaming for more.   Inequality has increased anywhere in the world despite substantial geographical differences, with the richest 1% twice as wealthy as the poorest 50%. The results of the World Inequality Report 2018 This occurs both within as well as between countries. The rich, western countries are protecting their standard of life at all costs, even if this means exploiting other countries, natural resources or the environment at large. At the same time, developing countries are eager to obtain a similar life standard and will not hesitate to follow similar practices. Between the 7.7 billion of us walking this planet, surely enough people should care enough to actually make a tangible difference. Right? Well, let’s break down our potential troops. Facts are that half of the world population has to make do with a daily income below $ 5.50.   Putting aside the obvious fact that perhaps the countries that they live in will be able to get you more bang for this buck, it is still unreasonable to assume that those people are able to do more than just survive. If they are not even sure whether they have enough water to last the night, how can you expect them to care about clean drinking water? If they live in appalling conditions, how can you expect them to take a stance on climate change? That leaves us the other half of the world population, including most of the western world. Within this group, there are some 26 people who together earn more than the bottom half I mentioned before. Surely they will have enough resources to care about the world? Well, yes, although they - and along with them, most of the western countries - claim to be more social and sustainable than ever before, the reality is that they just aren’t moving enough sand. Let’s look at one example. Europe is battling a never-ending wave of extremist politicians, dividing their respective countries to the bone on issues like the European Union, socialism, refugees and - yes - climate change. Politicians seem more concerned with their own image and pleasing their supporters than they are with actually governing. The end result is a frightening lack of strong commitment: the voters do not care enough, which means that they do not. Vague long-term commitments and unclear timelines follow suit. Some might look at the Paris Agreement and say that this must surely be that raised fist that we were waiting for. Yet instead of spending this kind of money on cold-hard action, the five largest publicly listed oil and gas companies have since allocated a $1 billion budget on public relations and lobbying efforts. All meant to actively control, delay or block some of the policies that might hurt them. They are not alone. With them, companies and trade associations running the sugary food and drinks industry are spending nearly $25 million per year to lobby against similar policies; while car manufacturers are handing out a shabby $20 million per year on lobbying efforts. This is still nothing compared to the plastics industry, rallying vehemently against the plastics ban and having delayed it for several years.   It may be clear that our current governing system is heavily influenced by corporate interests. The all-mighty big corporations have plenty of money to spend on lawyers and PR campaigns, as well as personal gifts and all-expenses-paid trips to tropical resorts for politicians.   Lobbyists hold a great influence in Brussels and, well, pretty much anywhere else in the world. And those who do not have the money to spend - including NGO’s and corporations truly concerned about the environment - will find themselves unable to sway the political opinion.   European Union alternative energy investments Although, to say something positive about the European Union as well, they have gotten their renewable energy investments off in a pretty solid manner. At this time, more than 30% of electricity is generated by renewable sources, a vast increase from the 12% it was back in 2000. If this growth rate can be kept up, expectations are that the share of renewables in the total energy mix will be up to 50% by 2030.   The Netherlands: lagging In order to meet this number, some countries will have to take a good, hard look at their current policies. Within the EU, two countries that you might not expect to be are in fact severely lagging behind. Luxembourg (6.4%) and the Netherlands (6.6%) are at the bottom of the list when it comes to consumption of energy generated by renewable sources.   Despite several high-profile windfarm projects on the North Sea, the Netherlands is particularly far away from reaching its targets. Surprising, considering that this country will be hit hard by climate change due to the fact that a large part of the country is below sea level. United States of America Moving across the ocean, things aren’t all peachy either. While Europeans do not have much faith in their representatives, Americans are not feeling the love either. Evidence has pointed to Americans overwhelmingly disapproving of their Congress.   This is mainly the result of politicians not sharing their interests and priorities - and Congress not being a true representation of society. For instance, a majority of Congress and Senate members are millionaires, despite only about 1% of Americans having this kind of money in their bank account. How can these governing bodies even aspire to be a blueprint of society, representing all Americans equally, when their interests are so obviously skewed to those of the upper classes? United States alternative energy investments As an example of this, even though a majority of the US population might be in favour of more renewable energy sources, this is proving to be pretty hard to realise. Throughout the first half of 2016, about 13% of electricity was generated by renewable sources - a number that should not satisfy you for a number of reasons.   Despite President Trump claiming that the US has one of the ‘cleanest climates’, whatever that means, the facts are still worrying.   US greenhouse gas emissions In absolute numbers, the United States is no longer the single largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, having lost this position to China some time ago. It does, however, still rank extremely high in terms of per capita emissions. Higher than China and most other developed and industrialised countries.   And yes, the policies that were initiated by Barack Obama to switch from coal to gas have resulted in a decline of carbon emissions; yet experts estimate that the country will not even come close to meeting the target levels of cutting emissions by 26-28% compared to the 2005 levels by 2025. The election of a certain Donald J. Trump certainly has not improved this outlook, for several reasons. Fracking Thanks to practice of fracking - the blasting of dense shale rock with water, sand and chemicals to release tiny bubbles of fossil fuel - the United States has revved up its gas industry. It brought along a lot of pollution and water shortages. Not to mention leaks of methane, a huge contributor to climate change. A new study of water in Texas’ Barnett Shale area reveals "incredibly alarming" levels of contamination, with fracking the prime suspect Fossil fuel exploration Trump has made it his mission to loosen regulations regarding National Parks and protected areas, in doing so freeing up more land for expanding both the oil and gas industries. Drilling in the pristine wilderness of Alaska has been one of his spearheads, enraging many for destroying valuable nature areas while once again increasing the reliance on fossil fuels. Fuel efficiency standards Another hotly debated issue championed by Trump is the loosening of regulations on the automotive industry, reducing the need for higher fuel efficiency. A big thing, as fuel efficiency in the US has historically already been much lower than in other countries. Less fuel efficient cars, vans and trucks will once again increase emissions and pollution. International cooperation The list of potentially climate-wrecking policies and plans as initiated by the Donald does not stop there. His decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement has, although it cannot be implemented during his term, already left a wake of destruction; with several other countries considering a withdrawal as well and fossil fuel companies and lobbyists regaining some of their power.   Climate denial Most will have heard the illustrious U.S. President flat out denying climate change , having called it a Chinese hoax and a Democratic plot to hurt the Republicans. It is not hard to see why such a statement of such an influential person will leave many of his followers in doubt as well. Hence, the United States boasts a much higher rate of climate change deniers than any other Western nation.   Water ‘ We have the cleanest water, it's crystal clean ,’ or so Mr. Trump has claimed, continuously emphasising how much he values this. His actions seem to point to the contrary, though, with policies aimed at cleaning up the U.S. water supply being rolled back and opening up protected streams and wetlands to potentially damaging pesticides and pollutants.   Air At the same time the very same businessman-turned-president exclaimed his desire for ‘the cleanest air’, he actually rolled back Obama’s plans to cut back greenhouse gas emissions from factories and power plants. Instead, he is hoping to open up more coal power plants and stations. Safe to say this will not get him the clean air he is hoping for. India Moving on to one of the more developing nations in the world, India, where we unfortunately see the same pattern of the rich and corrupt few governing the many. As India has a huge population of dirt-poor people, they are likely to be hit the hardest when it comes to climate change-initiated hits to their food sources, living accommodations and income.   Yet these people do not have a say in the matter, as the politicians deciding on climate change matters are worth millions and millions of dollars and, frankly, keep on raking in the dough by accepting huge cash donations from the ‘sponsors’ - who have a vested interest in keeping impactful measures at bay.   India’s alternative energy investments Besides China, India is the largest builder of renewable energy projects - mainly solar and wind, having resulted in some 75 gigawatts of solar, wind and other renewable sources having already been built and another 45 gigawatts well underway. A promising leap forward, although it has to be noted that the country still heavily relies on its coal industry - generating about 57% (2018) of the nation’s electricity needs.   As the country is growing and urbanising fast, it is unlikely to assume that the share of renewables is going to increase. China At the risk of sounding repetitive, China’s parliament is very out of touch with the regular people on the street as well. The 209 richest delegates together have a net worth exceeding the annual GDP of Sweden, a fortune that has often been made through corporate investments. They do not really hold any legislative sway within the Communist country, although their preference for keeping industry ‘as is’ is pretty obvious. China’s alternative energy investments In 2018 alone, China connected close to 21 gigawatts of wind capacity and 44 gigawatts of solar capacity to its grid. Staggering numbers from a nation that is committed to making renewable energy work, through its energy revolution. Unfortunately, the country is also investing heavily in coal, which is still the primary source of energy - despite claims of the government that it is produced using ‘ultra-low emission technology’.   Coal-fired power plants built in other countries Another proven tactic of China has been to build coal-fired power plants in other countries, using equipment that is no longer permitted within China’s borders. Countries like Vietnam, Bangladesh, Egypt and Indonesia are overseeing builds of Chinese-funded and owned power plants - hardly a way of showing sustainable intent.   China's overseas ventures include hundreds of electric power plants that burn coal, which is a significant emitter of the carbon scientifically linked to climate change. Edward Cunningham, a specialist on China and its energy markets at Harvard University, tells NPR that China is building or planning more than 300 coal plants in places as widely spread as Turkey, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Egypt and the Philippines Are we really motivated to change? Looking at all of those countries, it might come across as if they are not really motivated to change. All governments are unanimously proclaiming that they really want to change and care about the environment, but when looking at the numbers, it does not seem to match up. Most countries still subsidise the fossil fuel industry and allow lobbyists and corporations to take their seat at the table. Tax cuts for clean energy and production are stil minimal, while Western countries are not really eager to help the developing nations through their knowledge and expertise of clean technologies. Quite the contrary, they seem more concerned with preservering their own life standard rather than worrying about their environmental footprint across the border.   It are often the wealthy who govern, with the poor suffering the worst consequences of their actions. The poor live in the areas that will be affected badly and are unable to prepare for the negative effects. They will be the first to lose access to land, food and energy. So while the rich are largely responsible for climate change, they will be more likely to survive it and suffer the least.   Scientists and politicians We are actually looking at a battle between science and politics. While the latter is tainted by bribery, lobbying and bureaucracy, scientists are actively trying to apply their knowledge of engineering, technology and physics. But before they can do so, they first have to find a way of navigating this minefield called politics, that mainly seems to serve the self-interests of the wealthiest.   Worrisome prognoses Realistically, chances aren’t great of any world leader turning to a big corporation like Shell and telling them to completely change their business model or shut down altogether. And, let’s be honest, we cannot truly expect those kind of multinationals to radically change course overnight. What we can do, however, is to provide incentives to make this change more appealing. Financially attractive. Feasible, from a business point of view. It can be done. Some countries have already successfully cut back their carbon dioxide emissions. It requires legislation, regulation, persuasion and conviction - but it can be done. Even then we will not be able to save ‘all’, but at least we can still take care of a good chunk of it.   This will prevent a potentially disastrous butterfly effect, where poor countries will become even poorer as a result of fewer resources available to the many and where climate refugees will become a hot issue - one that, I am afraid, will not be handled well when looking at the current refugee crises in Europe and Central America.   ‘Last call’ for our politicians. The protests around the world Perhaps what the world needs first is a change in mindset. Not of the leaders, but from the bottom up. Recent protests have shown how loud the voice of the people can be, if only they are convinced of their own right. Media has jumped on these protests, amplifying the message that enough is enough - and climate change can no longer be ignored by those in power.   An estimated 1.4 million young people in 123 countries skipped school on the 15th of March 2019 to demand stronger climate policies in what may be one of the largest environmental protests in history We are entering the end-game of climate change. Either we keep on marching towards our own extinction, or we take action and hold those in power accountable.   https://www.whatsorb.com/category/climate
Climate Change Natural Man Made: Marching Towards Extinction is the second article in a series of 6 on the topic of climate change.   In Climate Change Natural Man Made: Causes and Facts , we took a deep-dive in the history, science and geography surrounding climate change. Now that we have gotten a basic understanding of what factors play an important role in the changing of our climate, we must look beyond the CO2. Yes, climate change is a complex issue that is never easy to discuss. Although it should be discussed frequently and fervently to avoid the ‘end of days’ so often cited by activists. This second article looks at the playing field that we, humans, created. It will discuss the forces within the world population itself that drive or hinder any efforts to counter climate change. It will look at the different societies, differing opinions across different geographic regions.   It will also look at groups who have a specific vested interest in the topic - like the fossil fuel industry, governments, the food and sugar industry, and lobbyists. But also at environmental groups, activists and innovators. Both sides of the board will be heard and assessed to get the answer to the most important question: who is on board to tackle climate change? Ignoring climate change? Is it too heavy?       The answer to the question above should be obvious. After all, who would not be on board to tackle a potentially catastrophic, mass-life-wiping-out event? Yet somehow, it has not been as straightforward. This funny thing called human psychology is really messing up what would be a clear plan moving forward.   It looks as if we have become immune to people telling us that we have just boarded a train that is racing down an unfinished track to eventually plummet off a deadly cliff. Yes, we know there are a bunch of stations in-between, where we can get off and ensure our safety. But after the fifth call announcing this sure and imminent death, we just do not feel as alarmed anymore.   In the past, this inconvenient little switch in our brain was actually quite helpful. Do you think cavemen ever worried about the next month? The next year? Or even a couple of years down the road? Chances are they were more concerned with finding food and shelter for the next few nights instead.   Survival instincts, which have always been a key element of our evolution, dictate that we look at the danger right in front of us - be it a sable tooth tiger or a taxi swerving towards us when crossing the street - and prioritise this over perhaps more significant dangers down the road. ‘We’ll cross that bridge when we get there’ has become an international motto, it seems, indicating that we leave any problem solving of pressing issues to the last possible moment. And while it may have indeed been a good idea to run away and hide when faced with a mad woolly mammoth instead of worrying about next year’s crops, this rarely ever applies today. We actually tend to avoid situations that scare us or make us uncomfortable as much as possible.   The truth is, we just do not like talking about ‘bad’ things. This thing called the probability bias is letting us ‘rationalise’ (or, more accurately, ‘irrationalise’) away things that we just want to avoid. We estimate the chances of it impacting us personally as too low to really care about. This leads to us being utterly helpless when it does in fact really happen. Whether it is us not being insured for floods or tornadoes (‘what are the odds of that happening to me’) or not taking action against climate change (‘it will surely last my lifetime’) - we just do not seem to care enough until it is too late. According to Norwegian psychologist Per Espen Stoknes, the level of concern regarding climate change has never been lower in rich Western democracies - dropping steadily as the pile of climate science-related research actually grew larger. He blamed this on five barriers that explain this seemingly irrational behaviour: distance, dissonance, doom, denial and identity. Climate change is simply too distant (in both actual proximity and time).   And while we know that we ought to save the polar bears and really care about these poor animals losing their habitat, we just cannot bring ourselves to really do something about it - even though we know we should. This is the dissonance that, coupled with the feeling of distance, lets us ignore the issue rather than take a stand. What are the conditions where the transit must take place? There is, however, a scientific way around this. Or so George Marshall thinks, specialist in climate change communications and writer of ‘ Why Our Brains Are Wired To Ignore Climate Change ’. His claim is that we are much more likely to accept information if we are given a certain narrative. We should feel like it matters to us personally, it should be relatable.   Giving people a personal interest in climate change will rapidly change both their attitudes and actions. Scientific blah-blahs and statistics are just not rocking our boat. Instead, we must get in the minds of people and find out how they are thinking. What they are thinking. We should look at the people that they like, their leaders, and get them to transmit a message that is both accurate as well as relatable to their followers. Yes, this is already quite the job. After all, the world seems more polarised than ever before, with countries, religions, cultures, individuals, political parties and organisations occupying opposite ends of pretty much any spectrum. Opinions are seemingly becoming more extreme, often leaving little room for finding the ‘middle ground’.   This growing difference in opinion is often strictly correlated to the role someone plays in society. The wealth gap between the poorest and the richest is growing at an alarming pace, creating the ideal habitat for unrest. Those in the upper classes are mainly looking out to protect their share, while those who are not as lucky are screaming for more.   Inequality has increased anywhere in the world despite substantial geographical differences, with the richest 1% twice as wealthy as the poorest 50%. The results of the World Inequality Report 2018 This occurs both within as well as between countries. The rich, western countries are protecting their standard of life at all costs, even if this means exploiting other countries, natural resources or the environment at large. At the same time, developing countries are eager to obtain a similar life standard and will not hesitate to follow similar practices. Between the 7.7 billion of us walking this planet, surely enough people should care enough to actually make a tangible difference. Right? Well, let’s break down our potential troops. Facts are that half of the world population has to make do with a daily income below $ 5.50.   Putting aside the obvious fact that perhaps the countries that they live in will be able to get you more bang for this buck, it is still unreasonable to assume that those people are able to do more than just survive. If they are not even sure whether they have enough water to last the night, how can you expect them to care about clean drinking water? If they live in appalling conditions, how can you expect them to take a stance on climate change? That leaves us the other half of the world population, including most of the western world. Within this group, there are some 26 people who together earn more than the bottom half I mentioned before. Surely they will have enough resources to care about the world? Well, yes, although they - and along with them, most of the western countries - claim to be more social and sustainable than ever before, the reality is that they just aren’t moving enough sand. Let’s look at one example. Europe is battling a never-ending wave of extremist politicians, dividing their respective countries to the bone on issues like the European Union, socialism, refugees and - yes - climate change. Politicians seem more concerned with their own image and pleasing their supporters than they are with actually governing. The end result is a frightening lack of strong commitment: the voters do not care enough, which means that they do not. Vague long-term commitments and unclear timelines follow suit. Some might look at the Paris Agreement and say that this must surely be that raised fist that we were waiting for. Yet instead of spending this kind of money on cold-hard action, the five largest publicly listed oil and gas companies have since allocated a $1 billion budget on public relations and lobbying efforts. All meant to actively control, delay or block some of the policies that might hurt them. They are not alone. With them, companies and trade associations running the sugary food and drinks industry are spending nearly $25 million per year to lobby against similar policies; while car manufacturers are handing out a shabby $20 million per year on lobbying efforts. This is still nothing compared to the plastics industry, rallying vehemently against the plastics ban and having delayed it for several years.   It may be clear that our current governing system is heavily influenced by corporate interests. The all-mighty big corporations have plenty of money to spend on lawyers and PR campaigns, as well as personal gifts and all-expenses-paid trips to tropical resorts for politicians.   Lobbyists hold a great influence in Brussels and, well, pretty much anywhere else in the world. And those who do not have the money to spend - including NGO’s and corporations truly concerned about the environment - will find themselves unable to sway the political opinion.   European Union alternative energy investments Although, to say something positive about the European Union as well, they have gotten their renewable energy investments off in a pretty solid manner. At this time, more than 30% of electricity is generated by renewable sources, a vast increase from the 12% it was back in 2000. If this growth rate can be kept up, expectations are that the share of renewables in the total energy mix will be up to 50% by 2030.   The Netherlands: lagging In order to meet this number, some countries will have to take a good, hard look at their current policies. Within the EU, two countries that you might not expect to be are in fact severely lagging behind. Luxembourg (6.4%) and the Netherlands (6.6%) are at the bottom of the list when it comes to consumption of energy generated by renewable sources.   Despite several high-profile windfarm projects on the North Sea, the Netherlands is particularly far away from reaching its targets. Surprising, considering that this country will be hit hard by climate change due to the fact that a large part of the country is below sea level. United States of America Moving across the ocean, things aren’t all peachy either. While Europeans do not have much faith in their representatives, Americans are not feeling the love either. Evidence has pointed to Americans overwhelmingly disapproving of their Congress.   This is mainly the result of politicians not sharing their interests and priorities - and Congress not being a true representation of society. For instance, a majority of Congress and Senate members are millionaires, despite only about 1% of Americans having this kind of money in their bank account. How can these governing bodies even aspire to be a blueprint of society, representing all Americans equally, when their interests are so obviously skewed to those of the upper classes? United States alternative energy investments As an example of this, even though a majority of the US population might be in favour of more renewable energy sources, this is proving to be pretty hard to realise. Throughout the first half of 2016, about 13% of electricity was generated by renewable sources - a number that should not satisfy you for a number of reasons.   Despite President Trump claiming that the US has one of the ‘cleanest climates’, whatever that means, the facts are still worrying.   US greenhouse gas emissions In absolute numbers, the United States is no longer the single largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, having lost this position to China some time ago. It does, however, still rank extremely high in terms of per capita emissions. Higher than China and most other developed and industrialised countries.   And yes, the policies that were initiated by Barack Obama to switch from coal to gas have resulted in a decline of carbon emissions; yet experts estimate that the country will not even come close to meeting the target levels of cutting emissions by 26-28% compared to the 2005 levels by 2025. The election of a certain Donald J. Trump certainly has not improved this outlook, for several reasons. Fracking Thanks to practice of fracking - the blasting of dense shale rock with water, sand and chemicals to release tiny bubbles of fossil fuel - the United States has revved up its gas industry. It brought along a lot of pollution and water shortages. Not to mention leaks of methane, a huge contributor to climate change. A new study of water in Texas’ Barnett Shale area reveals "incredibly alarming" levels of contamination, with fracking the prime suspect Fossil fuel exploration Trump has made it his mission to loosen regulations regarding National Parks and protected areas, in doing so freeing up more land for expanding both the oil and gas industries. Drilling in the pristine wilderness of Alaska has been one of his spearheads, enraging many for destroying valuable nature areas while once again increasing the reliance on fossil fuels. Fuel efficiency standards Another hotly debated issue championed by Trump is the loosening of regulations on the automotive industry, reducing the need for higher fuel efficiency. A big thing, as fuel efficiency in the US has historically already been much lower than in other countries. Less fuel efficient cars, vans and trucks will once again increase emissions and pollution. International cooperation The list of potentially climate-wrecking policies and plans as initiated by the Donald does not stop there. His decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement has, although it cannot be implemented during his term, already left a wake of destruction; with several other countries considering a withdrawal as well and fossil fuel companies and lobbyists regaining some of their power.   Climate denial Most will have heard the illustrious U.S. President flat out denying climate change , having called it a Chinese hoax and a Democratic plot to hurt the Republicans. It is not hard to see why such a statement of such an influential person will leave many of his followers in doubt as well. Hence, the United States boasts a much higher rate of climate change deniers than any other Western nation.   Water ‘ We have the cleanest water, it's crystal clean ,’ or so Mr. Trump has claimed, continuously emphasising how much he values this. His actions seem to point to the contrary, though, with policies aimed at cleaning up the U.S. water supply being rolled back and opening up protected streams and wetlands to potentially damaging pesticides and pollutants.   Air At the same time the very same businessman-turned-president exclaimed his desire for ‘the cleanest air’, he actually rolled back Obama’s plans to cut back greenhouse gas emissions from factories and power plants. Instead, he is hoping to open up more coal power plants and stations. Safe to say this will not get him the clean air he is hoping for. India Moving on to one of the more developing nations in the world, India, where we unfortunately see the same pattern of the rich and corrupt few governing the many. As India has a huge population of dirt-poor people, they are likely to be hit the hardest when it comes to climate change-initiated hits to their food sources, living accommodations and income.   Yet these people do not have a say in the matter, as the politicians deciding on climate change matters are worth millions and millions of dollars and, frankly, keep on raking in the dough by accepting huge cash donations from the ‘sponsors’ - who have a vested interest in keeping impactful measures at bay.   India’s alternative energy investments Besides China, India is the largest builder of renewable energy projects - mainly solar and wind, having resulted in some 75 gigawatts of solar, wind and other renewable sources having already been built and another 45 gigawatts well underway. A promising leap forward, although it has to be noted that the country still heavily relies on its coal industry - generating about 57% (2018) of the nation’s electricity needs.   As the country is growing and urbanising fast, it is unlikely to assume that the share of renewables is going to increase. China At the risk of sounding repetitive, China’s parliament is very out of touch with the regular people on the street as well. The 209 richest delegates together have a net worth exceeding the annual GDP of Sweden, a fortune that has often been made through corporate investments. They do not really hold any legislative sway within the Communist country, although their preference for keeping industry ‘as is’ is pretty obvious. China’s alternative energy investments In 2018 alone, China connected close to 21 gigawatts of wind capacity and 44 gigawatts of solar capacity to its grid. Staggering numbers from a nation that is committed to making renewable energy work, through its energy revolution. Unfortunately, the country is also investing heavily in coal, which is still the primary source of energy - despite claims of the government that it is produced using ‘ultra-low emission technology’.   Coal-fired power plants built in other countries Another proven tactic of China has been to build coal-fired power plants in other countries, using equipment that is no longer permitted within China’s borders. Countries like Vietnam, Bangladesh, Egypt and Indonesia are overseeing builds of Chinese-funded and owned power plants - hardly a way of showing sustainable intent.   China's overseas ventures include hundreds of electric power plants that burn coal, which is a significant emitter of the carbon scientifically linked to climate change. Edward Cunningham, a specialist on China and its energy markets at Harvard University, tells NPR that China is building or planning more than 300 coal plants in places as widely spread as Turkey, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Egypt and the Philippines Are we really motivated to change? Looking at all of those countries, it might come across as if they are not really motivated to change. All governments are unanimously proclaiming that they really want to change and care about the environment, but when looking at the numbers, it does not seem to match up. Most countries still subsidise the fossil fuel industry and allow lobbyists and corporations to take their seat at the table. Tax cuts for clean energy and production are stil minimal, while Western countries are not really eager to help the developing nations through their knowledge and expertise of clean technologies. Quite the contrary, they seem more concerned with preservering their own life standard rather than worrying about their environmental footprint across the border.   It are often the wealthy who govern, with the poor suffering the worst consequences of their actions. The poor live in the areas that will be affected badly and are unable to prepare for the negative effects. They will be the first to lose access to land, food and energy. So while the rich are largely responsible for climate change, they will be more likely to survive it and suffer the least.   Scientists and politicians We are actually looking at a battle between science and politics. While the latter is tainted by bribery, lobbying and bureaucracy, scientists are actively trying to apply their knowledge of engineering, technology and physics. But before they can do so, they first have to find a way of navigating this minefield called politics, that mainly seems to serve the self-interests of the wealthiest.   Worrisome prognoses Realistically, chances aren’t great of any world leader turning to a big corporation like Shell and telling them to completely change their business model or shut down altogether. And, let’s be honest, we cannot truly expect those kind of multinationals to radically change course overnight. What we can do, however, is to provide incentives to make this change more appealing. Financially attractive. Feasible, from a business point of view. It can be done. Some countries have already successfully cut back their carbon dioxide emissions. It requires legislation, regulation, persuasion and conviction - but it can be done. Even then we will not be able to save ‘all’, but at least we can still take care of a good chunk of it.   This will prevent a potentially disastrous butterfly effect, where poor countries will become even poorer as a result of fewer resources available to the many and where climate refugees will become a hot issue - one that, I am afraid, will not be handled well when looking at the current refugee crises in Europe and Central America.   ‘Last call’ for our politicians. The protests around the world Perhaps what the world needs first is a change in mindset. Not of the leaders, but from the bottom up. Recent protests have shown how loud the voice of the people can be, if only they are convinced of their own right. Media has jumped on these protests, amplifying the message that enough is enough - and climate change can no longer be ignored by those in power.   An estimated 1.4 million young people in 123 countries skipped school on the 15th of March 2019 to demand stronger climate policies in what may be one of the largest environmental protests in history We are entering the end-game of climate change. Either we keep on marching towards our own extinction, or we take action and hold those in power accountable.   https://www.whatsorb.com/category/climate
Climate Change Natural Man Made: Marching Towards Extinction
Climate Change Natural Man Made: Marching Towards Extinction
Climate Change Natural Man Made: Causes And Facts
Climate Change Natural Man Made: Causes and Facts is the first article in a series of 6 on the topic of climate change. There are many issues that should be discussed at the highest levels and at the water cooler alike. Although in a surprising twist, you might not know what the top-ranking global issue threatening our world is. The one issue that is more urgent and more pressing than all of those mentioned above. The one that threatens our very existence. Climate change! Already in 2013, before the Paris Climate Agreement became a 'thing', 56% of countries questioned in an international survey indicated that global climate change would be a major threat to their country. This number rose to 63% in 2017, before reaching 67% one year later, in 2018.     Natural man made This first article in my series on climate change will discuss what, exactly, climate change entails. It summarises and reflects the commonly accepted scientific consensus on the systems that make and influence our climate, describing the immense complexity. Just to be perfectly clear: this article is not meant to point the finger at anyone. It is not taking a side in the debate of man made versus natural occurrence. The article is meant to explore the concept from the most objective standpoint possible. It will inevitably include words like ‘estimate’, ‘approximate’, ‘observed’, ‘hypotheses’, ‘models’ and ‘uncertainty’ - as those are the perfect representation of the complexity of the issue and the widely varying opinions on the topic.   Words are playing an important part as it is, as they form such an important part of how individuals look at climate change and perceive it. We experience climate change using our specific set of constructs and references. People might speak of their observations on a local level, citing their climate-related life experiences. Farmers use terminology that distinguishes between great and not so great seasons, linking that season’s weather to the related harvest yield. Scientists look at longer periods of time and distinguish trends on a larger scale. These perceptions all have one thing in common: they look at change.   What is climate change? Let’s just dive right in with the most significant question - that has proven to be the most difficult to answer. In a nutshell, climate change occurs when certain changes in our earth’s climate system lead to new weather patterns that last for at least a number of decades, although they could just as easily last for millions of years.   This definition is pretty much stone-clad, although it offers some definitions that are not as definitive. What does, after all, make up this climate system that is so determinant? Most will agree that our climate system is composed of five elements that interact with one another: Atmosphere , or the air around us Hydrosphere , or the water surrounding our continents Cryosphere , or the ice and permafrost covering our poles Biosphere , or all living things and beings Lithosphere , or the surface soils, rocks and sediments These elements rely on each other, which is why even subtle changes in one of them will have a big impact on the system as a whole. The system is ultimately powered by the sun, where it gets most of its energy from - with only a small portion taken from the earth’s interior. At the same time, the climate system ‘radiates’ energy as well, sending it off in outer space.   This balance of incoming and outgoing energy, combined with the way it passes through our climate system, makes up our earth’s energy budget. If there’s more energy incoming, we say that the earth has a positive energy budget - meaning that the climate system as a whole is warming. On the other hand, if there’s a greater outflow of energy, we have a negative energy budget, letting the earth experience a period of cooling. The incoming energy ‘flows’ through the climate system, being distributed around the globe by winds, ocean currents and other similar mechanisms. This results in what we know as the weather - as well as the long-term averages of weather, that we refer to as climate. Thus, it will not hold up if you refer to one bad summer as indicative of climate change - it will, though, if there are notable changes in the long term average. This, and only this, is what we refer to as climate change. Climate change : man made or natural Unfortunately, for all intents and purposes, 'climate change' has become the catch-all phrase for a vastly divergent group of concepts - including being used as a technical description of the process at hand as well as a noun that is used to describe the problem.   Consequently, both the terms ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’ are used interchangeably, now often being used to reflect man-made climate change (or global warming) in particular. This bias continues to exist even in popular scientific literature, making it harder to form a clear image of the actual problem. In order to avoid any confusion, this series of articles will utilise the most commonly accepted definition of climate change: a change in the statistical proporties of the climate system when considered over long periods of time, regardless of cause. This excludes weather evens like El Niño, that represent fluctuations over periods shorter than a few decades. Taking the explanation above into account, it will not be hard to see why these changes could partially result from the so-called ‘internal variability’, where the energy budget is altered by natural processes that make up our climate system, and partially by human activities. The carbon cycle, showing the movement of carbon between land, the atmosphere and the oceans. Yellow numbers are natural fluxes and red numbers are human contributions in gigatonnes of carbon per year. White numbers indicate stored carbon (The Carbon Cycle , NASA). History of climate change When looking into the causes and historical trends for climate change as a whole, to better understand both natural processes and human influence, researchers usually focus on evidence as preserved in typical climate proxies such as ice cores, ancient tree rings, geologic records of changes in sea level and glacial geology. Photo by: B.A.S. Dr E.C. Pasteur removing an ice core from the core barrel during drilling on an ice dome on Berkner Island. The collaborative drilling programme with the Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Bremerhaven, Germany recovered ice cores to study the climate and atmospheric conditions of the Weddell Sea region over the past millenium. These ‘time-capsules’ allow us to understand climate in a way we were unable to before. Before the 18th century, scientists were blissfully unaware of this thing called ‘climate’ and how earlier, prehistoric climates could be different from their own time period. Only towards the end of this century did they find evidence of changes in climate in geological ages long past, using the methods above. Through paleoclimatology, we try to study the changes in climate taken on the scale of the entire history of earth. Historical climatology, on the other hand, studies historical changes in climate and maps out the effect that they have had on human history and development. This heavily relies on the written word, hidden in sagas, chronicles, maps and literature; as well as on paintings, drawings or rock art to form an adequate picture of the past. It has been claimed that climate changes in the past are hiding in plain sight: driving changes in settlements and agricultural patterns, or even going so far as linking the rise and fall of various civilisations to significant climate events. Those have often been included in archaeological records, making it a silent witness (or perhaps even instigator) to many of the world’s biggest historical moments. Tracing climate change’s tracks Today, far less ‘guessing work’ is involved. We have satellites circling the earth that capture the incoming and outflowing radiation, making it relatively easy to track our energy budget - and with that, a significant portion of climate change. Such technological advances have only made it easier for us to deepen our research in the phenomenon, helping us to understand the working of our climate system. The incoming and outflowing radiation When looking specifically at proof supporting the current climate change, there are several ways to go - aside from data captured by these satellites. These include reports on extreme weather events, as well as temperature records and the disappearance of ice all around the world. These graphic and very physical pieces of evidence are chosen for their irrefutability and comprehensibility alike: no scientific background is needed to ‘understand’ the impact of ice caps collapsing before our very eyes. Melting ice caps are actually not just used to sensationalise climate change. Glaciers are some of the most sensitive indicators of climate change. They are in many aspects representative of the world’s energy budget: with the size depending on the balance between snow input and melt output. Hence, warming temperatures will cause glaciers to retreat - unless enough snow is ‘inputted’ to balance it out. Through a world glacier inventory, that also relies on satellites to track their size and location, scientists can get a clear picture of what is happening to this ‘glacier budget’ and, hence, with the world’s energy budget at large. And, spoiler alert, it hasn’t been looking good for the past decades, with significant shrinkages found all around the world. Related with this subject is the Albedo effect. Albedo is a measure of the reflectivity of a surface. The albedo effect when applied to the Earth is a measure of how much of the Sun's energy is reflected back into space. Overall, the Earth's albedo has a cooling effect. (The term ‘albedo’ is derived from the Latin for ‘whiteness’). Further evidence of climate change can be found in the Arctic sea. Mostly covered in sea ice, it has seen a major decline in both the extent and the thickness. Through satellite images, we have been able to establish that each decade, some 13.2% of sea ice is disappearing.   Melting glaciers and sea ice are at the core of a whole other problem, being the rising of sea levels. This is another stable indicator of climate change’s progression, showing how the earth’s temperature correlates with sea levels. Through the dating of coral reefs, coastal sediments, marine terraces, limestones and nearshore archaeological remains, it is possible to establish the sea level for periods of which we roughly know the average global temperature. For instance, in the early Pliocene, global temperatures were some 1-2˚C warmer than they are today. Sea levels were also 15-25 meters higher than today, painting a relatively grim image for our future - especially for those living in coastal regions. Other indicators of climate change that are used today are changes in ice cores, cloud cover and precipitation, vegetation, forests, pollen and animals. Modern techniques will stop at nothing to figure out how climate change has influenced any of these in the past and thus predict what our future might look like if global temperatures are to rise even further. Climate forcing mechanisms Through such historical and empirical research, several factors have been identified that pretty much ‘shape’ our climate as they are capable of influencing the energy budget, that frail balance determinant of climate. These are referred to as climate forcing or ‘forcing mechanisms’. The way in which the five elements making up the climate system respond to such forcing mechanisms varies. This feedback can serve to amplify or diminish the initial ‘forcing’, either bringing along disruption or stabilisation of climate. Oceans and ice caps, for instance, are relatively slow in responding - whereas the atmosphere, biosphere and lithosphere can be much quicker to react.   For all of these elements, there is a certain threshold factor. Up until reaching that threshold, not much change will be noted - but this will change quickly upon passing it, setting major and often irreversible changes in motion. Forcing mechanisms can be internal or external and lead to a slow or fast response of the climate system: a volcanic eruption will lead to a sudden cooling, while the warming of ocean water will have a much longer ‘time to impact’. Internal forcing mechanisms Internal forcing mechanisms are the natural processes that opponents of the man-made theory often point at as the main culprit. These occur within the climate system itself - within one of the five elements that I mentioned earlier, to be exact. Any natural changes in one or several of these five elements might lead to internal ‘climate variability’, or natural climate change.   One example of such a forcing mechanism is a change in the type and distribution of species. Life, as it stands, affects climate through its role in the carbon and water cycles - or by triggering various other mechanisms such as:   cloud formation, to reflect sunlight evaporation and transpiration, from land and ocean surfaces to the atmosphere and weathering , or the breaking down of rocks, soils, wood and minerals   Evaporation and transpiration, from land and ocean surfaces to the atmosphere In the past, several instances have been noted where life was ultimately decisive in changes to the climate. We are talking about millions or even billions of years ago, where vascular land-plants, marine phytoplankton, or grass-grazers have been acting as the main culprit. Another example of an internal forcing mechanism is a change in ocean-atmosphere circulations. As it turns out, when the hydrosphere (oceans) and the atmosphere work together, pretty significant things can happen. Together, they can create spontaneous internal climate variabilities that can last for years - or even decades - on end.   This includes El Niño and his sister La Niña, both of which cause a periodically repeated reversal of the direction of movement, as well as the lesser known Pacific decadal oscillation and the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation. All of these redistribute heat from the deep ocean to the atmosphere and/or alter the cloud/water vapor/sea ice distribution. This has a pretty profound impact on the earth’s energy budget. External forcing mechanisms External forcing mechanisms are those that are ‘out of the ordinary’, so not directly caused by the climate system itself. Even here, there might still be an element of natural causes - including changes in solar output, changes in the earth’s orbit, or volcanic eruptions. Some famous examples are the Milankovitch cycles or the Vostok ice core. A first example of external forcing mechanisms, solar output, has been a notorious contributor to climate change for centuries. There have been some pretty significant variations in solar activity, based on observations of sunspots and beryllium isotopes.   There was, for instance, a period of remarkably few sunspots in the late 17th century - the Maunder Minimum. And while some of those periods have been long term, others have been pretty short term. Either way, they have a big impact on global climate: the Maunder Minimum has been cited as one of the main triggers of the Little Ice Age that took place between 1550 and 1850 AD.   The exact effect of solar variability on global temperatures has not yet been firmly established, with a 2010 study by CERN suggesting that ‘ the effects of solar variability on temperature throughout the atmosphere may be contrary to current expectations. ’ Working on a theory outlining aerosol formation in the lower atmosphere, it may very well be that these are (partially) driven by human activities as well.   Milankovitch cycles A second example of external forcing mechanisms are the orbital variations of our planet. Even the slightest variations in the motion of our earth will change how much sunlight reaches the earth’s surface in particular areas during particular seasons. Such kinematic changes can stem from the tilt angle of the earth’s axis of rotation, the precession of earth’s axis, and changes in the earth’s eccentricity.   When you combine these three, so-called Milankovitch cycles are produced, that influence our climate to the extent that they have been linked to glacial and interglacial periods in the past, as well as the advance and retreat of the Sahara. Powerful effects of a relatively minor adjustment in our earth’s position. Thirdly, volcanic activity and plate tectonics have been known to be climate-changers as well. Some eruptions, those injecting at least 100,000 tons of SO2 into the stratosphere, have had a significant impact on our climate. SO2 and sulfate aerosols are responsible for the creation of a sulphuric acid haze, capable of absorbing and scattering solar radiation before it reaches the surface. This leads to a cooling effect that can last for several years. For instance, the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 lowered global temperatures by an average of 0.5 °C for three whole years. Earlier, the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815 has been documented to have caused the ‘year without a summer’. Yet, for comparison’s sake, the impact of volcanic eruptions does not even come near the effect of human emissions: humans generate some 100-300 times the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by volcanoes.   Anthropogenic mechanisms This leads to the next, obvious point. The majority of external forcing mechanisms are anthropogenic, or man-made. Most notably, it includes greenhouse gasses and dust particles in the atmosphere. The current scientific consensus is that our climate is changing in a largely irreversible manner, and that those changes are in part caused by human activities. This is backed by a strong, credible body of evidence and runs through multiple lines of research. It is pointing at the increase in CO2 levels as the most concerning factor influencing climate change. Our earth’s atmosphere, commonly known as air, surrounds our planet and is one of the main players of the climate system. It should contain a large amount of nitrogen (78.09%), oxygen (20.95%), a small amount of argon (0.93%), and an even smaller amount of carbon dioxide (0.04%).   Now that carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is rising steadily, it is not hard to see how this can cause a misbalance in the atmosphere, setting in motion a potentially disastrous sequence of global warming. This increase in emissions is largely, aprtly resulting from fossil fuel combustion, use of aerosols, and cement manufacturing. Although there are several other factors, including animal husbandry, deforestation and ozone depletion. All man-made or, at least, man-related issues. The IPCC has stated that the human-caused change in our climate will impact both human and natural systems on all continents and across the oceans. A pretty definitive and clear statement that serves to remind us of the actual mechanism driving this particular wave of climate change that we are riding today. And, just in case it is not clear yet: this mechanism is partly us.   Thankfully, we are also 'a' mechanism that could be used to avoid partly the worst consequence - if only we put our minds to it. The next article in this series will look at who is actually on board to take action and help us ride out this particularly worrisome climate wave. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/climate
Climate Change Natural Man Made: Causes and Facts is the first article in a series of 6 on the topic of climate change. There are many issues that should be discussed at the highest levels and at the water cooler alike. Although in a surprising twist, you might not know what the top-ranking global issue threatening our world is. The one issue that is more urgent and more pressing than all of those mentioned above. The one that threatens our very existence. Climate change! Already in 2013, before the Paris Climate Agreement became a 'thing', 56% of countries questioned in an international survey indicated that global climate change would be a major threat to their country. This number rose to 63% in 2017, before reaching 67% one year later, in 2018.     Natural man made This first article in my series on climate change will discuss what, exactly, climate change entails. It summarises and reflects the commonly accepted scientific consensus on the systems that make and influence our climate, describing the immense complexity. Just to be perfectly clear: this article is not meant to point the finger at anyone. It is not taking a side in the debate of man made versus natural occurrence. The article is meant to explore the concept from the most objective standpoint possible. It will inevitably include words like ‘estimate’, ‘approximate’, ‘observed’, ‘hypotheses’, ‘models’ and ‘uncertainty’ - as those are the perfect representation of the complexity of the issue and the widely varying opinions on the topic.   Words are playing an important part as it is, as they form such an important part of how individuals look at climate change and perceive it. We experience climate change using our specific set of constructs and references. People might speak of their observations on a local level, citing their climate-related life experiences. Farmers use terminology that distinguishes between great and not so great seasons, linking that season’s weather to the related harvest yield. Scientists look at longer periods of time and distinguish trends on a larger scale. These perceptions all have one thing in common: they look at change.   What is climate change? Let’s just dive right in with the most significant question - that has proven to be the most difficult to answer. In a nutshell, climate change occurs when certain changes in our earth’s climate system lead to new weather patterns that last for at least a number of decades, although they could just as easily last for millions of years.   This definition is pretty much stone-clad, although it offers some definitions that are not as definitive. What does, after all, make up this climate system that is so determinant? Most will agree that our climate system is composed of five elements that interact with one another: Atmosphere , or the air around us Hydrosphere , or the water surrounding our continents Cryosphere , or the ice and permafrost covering our poles Biosphere , or all living things and beings Lithosphere , or the surface soils, rocks and sediments These elements rely on each other, which is why even subtle changes in one of them will have a big impact on the system as a whole. The system is ultimately powered by the sun, where it gets most of its energy from - with only a small portion taken from the earth’s interior. At the same time, the climate system ‘radiates’ energy as well, sending it off in outer space.   This balance of incoming and outgoing energy, combined with the way it passes through our climate system, makes up our earth’s energy budget. If there’s more energy incoming, we say that the earth has a positive energy budget - meaning that the climate system as a whole is warming. On the other hand, if there’s a greater outflow of energy, we have a negative energy budget, letting the earth experience a period of cooling. The incoming energy ‘flows’ through the climate system, being distributed around the globe by winds, ocean currents and other similar mechanisms. This results in what we know as the weather - as well as the long-term averages of weather, that we refer to as climate. Thus, it will not hold up if you refer to one bad summer as indicative of climate change - it will, though, if there are notable changes in the long term average. This, and only this, is what we refer to as climate change. Climate change : man made or natural Unfortunately, for all intents and purposes, 'climate change' has become the catch-all phrase for a vastly divergent group of concepts - including being used as a technical description of the process at hand as well as a noun that is used to describe the problem.   Consequently, both the terms ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’ are used interchangeably, now often being used to reflect man-made climate change (or global warming) in particular. This bias continues to exist even in popular scientific literature, making it harder to form a clear image of the actual problem. In order to avoid any confusion, this series of articles will utilise the most commonly accepted definition of climate change: a change in the statistical proporties of the climate system when considered over long periods of time, regardless of cause. This excludes weather evens like El Niño, that represent fluctuations over periods shorter than a few decades. Taking the explanation above into account, it will not be hard to see why these changes could partially result from the so-called ‘internal variability’, where the energy budget is altered by natural processes that make up our climate system, and partially by human activities. The carbon cycle, showing the movement of carbon between land, the atmosphere and the oceans. Yellow numbers are natural fluxes and red numbers are human contributions in gigatonnes of carbon per year. White numbers indicate stored carbon (The Carbon Cycle , NASA). History of climate change When looking into the causes and historical trends for climate change as a whole, to better understand both natural processes and human influence, researchers usually focus on evidence as preserved in typical climate proxies such as ice cores, ancient tree rings, geologic records of changes in sea level and glacial geology. Photo by: B.A.S. Dr E.C. Pasteur removing an ice core from the core barrel during drilling on an ice dome on Berkner Island. The collaborative drilling programme with the Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Bremerhaven, Germany recovered ice cores to study the climate and atmospheric conditions of the Weddell Sea region over the past millenium. These ‘time-capsules’ allow us to understand climate in a way we were unable to before. Before the 18th century, scientists were blissfully unaware of this thing called ‘climate’ and how earlier, prehistoric climates could be different from their own time period. Only towards the end of this century did they find evidence of changes in climate in geological ages long past, using the methods above. Through paleoclimatology, we try to study the changes in climate taken on the scale of the entire history of earth. Historical climatology, on the other hand, studies historical changes in climate and maps out the effect that they have had on human history and development. This heavily relies on the written word, hidden in sagas, chronicles, maps and literature; as well as on paintings, drawings or rock art to form an adequate picture of the past. It has been claimed that climate changes in the past are hiding in plain sight: driving changes in settlements and agricultural patterns, or even going so far as linking the rise and fall of various civilisations to significant climate events. Those have often been included in archaeological records, making it a silent witness (or perhaps even instigator) to many of the world’s biggest historical moments. Tracing climate change’s tracks Today, far less ‘guessing work’ is involved. We have satellites circling the earth that capture the incoming and outflowing radiation, making it relatively easy to track our energy budget - and with that, a significant portion of climate change. Such technological advances have only made it easier for us to deepen our research in the phenomenon, helping us to understand the working of our climate system. The incoming and outflowing radiation When looking specifically at proof supporting the current climate change, there are several ways to go - aside from data captured by these satellites. These include reports on extreme weather events, as well as temperature records and the disappearance of ice all around the world. These graphic and very physical pieces of evidence are chosen for their irrefutability and comprehensibility alike: no scientific background is needed to ‘understand’ the impact of ice caps collapsing before our very eyes. Melting ice caps are actually not just used to sensationalise climate change. Glaciers are some of the most sensitive indicators of climate change. They are in many aspects representative of the world’s energy budget: with the size depending on the balance between snow input and melt output. Hence, warming temperatures will cause glaciers to retreat - unless enough snow is ‘inputted’ to balance it out. Through a world glacier inventory, that also relies on satellites to track their size and location, scientists can get a clear picture of what is happening to this ‘glacier budget’ and, hence, with the world’s energy budget at large. And, spoiler alert, it hasn’t been looking good for the past decades, with significant shrinkages found all around the world. Related with this subject is the Albedo effect. Albedo is a measure of the reflectivity of a surface. The albedo effect when applied to the Earth is a measure of how much of the Sun's energy is reflected back into space. Overall, the Earth's albedo has a cooling effect. (The term ‘albedo’ is derived from the Latin for ‘whiteness’). Further evidence of climate change can be found in the Arctic sea. Mostly covered in sea ice, it has seen a major decline in both the extent and the thickness. Through satellite images, we have been able to establish that each decade, some 13.2% of sea ice is disappearing.   Melting glaciers and sea ice are at the core of a whole other problem, being the rising of sea levels. This is another stable indicator of climate change’s progression, showing how the earth’s temperature correlates with sea levels. Through the dating of coral reefs, coastal sediments, marine terraces, limestones and nearshore archaeological remains, it is possible to establish the sea level for periods of which we roughly know the average global temperature. For instance, in the early Pliocene, global temperatures were some 1-2˚C warmer than they are today. Sea levels were also 15-25 meters higher than today, painting a relatively grim image for our future - especially for those living in coastal regions. Other indicators of climate change that are used today are changes in ice cores, cloud cover and precipitation, vegetation, forests, pollen and animals. Modern techniques will stop at nothing to figure out how climate change has influenced any of these in the past and thus predict what our future might look like if global temperatures are to rise even further. Climate forcing mechanisms Through such historical and empirical research, several factors have been identified that pretty much ‘shape’ our climate as they are capable of influencing the energy budget, that frail balance determinant of climate. These are referred to as climate forcing or ‘forcing mechanisms’. The way in which the five elements making up the climate system respond to such forcing mechanisms varies. This feedback can serve to amplify or diminish the initial ‘forcing’, either bringing along disruption or stabilisation of climate. Oceans and ice caps, for instance, are relatively slow in responding - whereas the atmosphere, biosphere and lithosphere can be much quicker to react.   For all of these elements, there is a certain threshold factor. Up until reaching that threshold, not much change will be noted - but this will change quickly upon passing it, setting major and often irreversible changes in motion. Forcing mechanisms can be internal or external and lead to a slow or fast response of the climate system: a volcanic eruption will lead to a sudden cooling, while the warming of ocean water will have a much longer ‘time to impact’. Internal forcing mechanisms Internal forcing mechanisms are the natural processes that opponents of the man-made theory often point at as the main culprit. These occur within the climate system itself - within one of the five elements that I mentioned earlier, to be exact. Any natural changes in one or several of these five elements might lead to internal ‘climate variability’, or natural climate change.   One example of such a forcing mechanism is a change in the type and distribution of species. Life, as it stands, affects climate through its role in the carbon and water cycles - or by triggering various other mechanisms such as:   cloud formation, to reflect sunlight evaporation and transpiration, from land and ocean surfaces to the atmosphere and weathering , or the breaking down of rocks, soils, wood and minerals   Evaporation and transpiration, from land and ocean surfaces to the atmosphere In the past, several instances have been noted where life was ultimately decisive in changes to the climate. We are talking about millions or even billions of years ago, where vascular land-plants, marine phytoplankton, or grass-grazers have been acting as the main culprit. Another example of an internal forcing mechanism is a change in ocean-atmosphere circulations. As it turns out, when the hydrosphere (oceans) and the atmosphere work together, pretty significant things can happen. Together, they can create spontaneous internal climate variabilities that can last for years - or even decades - on end.   This includes El Niño and his sister La Niña, both of which cause a periodically repeated reversal of the direction of movement, as well as the lesser known Pacific decadal oscillation and the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation. All of these redistribute heat from the deep ocean to the atmosphere and/or alter the cloud/water vapor/sea ice distribution. This has a pretty profound impact on the earth’s energy budget. External forcing mechanisms External forcing mechanisms are those that are ‘out of the ordinary’, so not directly caused by the climate system itself. Even here, there might still be an element of natural causes - including changes in solar output, changes in the earth’s orbit, or volcanic eruptions. Some famous examples are the Milankovitch cycles or the Vostok ice core. A first example of external forcing mechanisms, solar output, has been a notorious contributor to climate change for centuries. There have been some pretty significant variations in solar activity, based on observations of sunspots and beryllium isotopes.   There was, for instance, a period of remarkably few sunspots in the late 17th century - the Maunder Minimum. And while some of those periods have been long term, others have been pretty short term. Either way, they have a big impact on global climate: the Maunder Minimum has been cited as one of the main triggers of the Little Ice Age that took place between 1550 and 1850 AD.   The exact effect of solar variability on global temperatures has not yet been firmly established, with a 2010 study by CERN suggesting that ‘ the effects of solar variability on temperature throughout the atmosphere may be contrary to current expectations. ’ Working on a theory outlining aerosol formation in the lower atmosphere, it may very well be that these are (partially) driven by human activities as well.   Milankovitch cycles A second example of external forcing mechanisms are the orbital variations of our planet. Even the slightest variations in the motion of our earth will change how much sunlight reaches the earth’s surface in particular areas during particular seasons. Such kinematic changes can stem from the tilt angle of the earth’s axis of rotation, the precession of earth’s axis, and changes in the earth’s eccentricity.   When you combine these three, so-called Milankovitch cycles are produced, that influence our climate to the extent that they have been linked to glacial and interglacial periods in the past, as well as the advance and retreat of the Sahara. Powerful effects of a relatively minor adjustment in our earth’s position. Thirdly, volcanic activity and plate tectonics have been known to be climate-changers as well. Some eruptions, those injecting at least 100,000 tons of SO2 into the stratosphere, have had a significant impact on our climate. SO2 and sulfate aerosols are responsible for the creation of a sulphuric acid haze, capable of absorbing and scattering solar radiation before it reaches the surface. This leads to a cooling effect that can last for several years. For instance, the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 lowered global temperatures by an average of 0.5 °C for three whole years. Earlier, the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815 has been documented to have caused the ‘year without a summer’. Yet, for comparison’s sake, the impact of volcanic eruptions does not even come near the effect of human emissions: humans generate some 100-300 times the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by volcanoes.   Anthropogenic mechanisms This leads to the next, obvious point. The majority of external forcing mechanisms are anthropogenic, or man-made. Most notably, it includes greenhouse gasses and dust particles in the atmosphere. The current scientific consensus is that our climate is changing in a largely irreversible manner, and that those changes are in part caused by human activities. This is backed by a strong, credible body of evidence and runs through multiple lines of research. It is pointing at the increase in CO2 levels as the most concerning factor influencing climate change. Our earth’s atmosphere, commonly known as air, surrounds our planet and is one of the main players of the climate system. It should contain a large amount of nitrogen (78.09%), oxygen (20.95%), a small amount of argon (0.93%), and an even smaller amount of carbon dioxide (0.04%).   Now that carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is rising steadily, it is not hard to see how this can cause a misbalance in the atmosphere, setting in motion a potentially disastrous sequence of global warming. This increase in emissions is largely, aprtly resulting from fossil fuel combustion, use of aerosols, and cement manufacturing. Although there are several other factors, including animal husbandry, deforestation and ozone depletion. All man-made or, at least, man-related issues. The IPCC has stated that the human-caused change in our climate will impact both human and natural systems on all continents and across the oceans. A pretty definitive and clear statement that serves to remind us of the actual mechanism driving this particular wave of climate change that we are riding today. And, just in case it is not clear yet: this mechanism is partly us.   Thankfully, we are also 'a' mechanism that could be used to avoid partly the worst consequence - if only we put our minds to it. The next article in this series will look at who is actually on board to take action and help us ride out this particularly worrisome climate wave. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/climate
Climate Change Natural Man Made: Causes And Facts
Climate Change Natural Man Made: Causes And Facts
Climate Change: Antarctica Is Melting Says NASA
We have all heard that the sea level is rising, but many feel that this change is insignificant, almost negligible. Indeed, this change has so far been happening very slowly – since 1900, the sea has risen only about 8 inches (20.3 cm) in total. However, more than a third of that increase has occurred in the past 25 years. So why is that happening and what can we expect in the years to come? Antarctica’s ice is disappearing at alarming rates Recent study done by the IMBIE (Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise) team, an international collaboration of polar scientists, has shown that Antarctica is quickly becoming one of the largest contributors to sea level rise. In 2012, it was estimated that  Antartic ice melt was causing global sea levels to rise by 0.2mm a year – however, this number has increased to 0.6mm per year. This threefold increase is very significant, considering that it only happened within 5 years’ time. In order to understand why the ice is melting so much faster, the scientists had to study the changes in all 3 areas of Antarctica’s ice sheet: the Antarctic peninsula, West Antarctica and East Antarctica. It appears that West Antarctica has lost the highest volume of ice, thus being the region to contribute most to the sea level change. The reason why West Antarctica is most susceptible to melting is because it is largely made up of glaciers that are located below sea level. Traditionally, when thinking of ice melting, we usually imagine it melting from above as it gets heated from the air, sunlight and infrared energy from the atmosphere. However, recent studies have shown that most of the melting occurs from below – and it is causing more melting. The devastating melting cycle When glaciers melt, they release fresh water into the ocean, making the surface around them less salty and therefore less dense. This slows down or in some cases even prevents natural mixing of the ocean. During winter, the cooler water from the surface cannot mix with warmer water below, allowing the latter to retain its heat and melt the glaciers from below. More fresh water gets released and this cycle repeats itself again, each time accelerating the rates at which the glaciers melt. Currently, ice shelves hold the Antarctic ice sheet in place. The trapped warm waters flowing underneath the shelves can break them down into smaller pieces, making them unable to support the ice sheet. Melting of the ice sheet would lead to catastrophic consequences – West Antarctic part ice sheet alone would raise the sea levels by more than 3 meters (9,8 feet). While West Antarctic is currently the biggest concern, it seems like East Antarctic is also being affected by this devastating cycle. Some of its largest glaciers are starting to show signs of melting and they have the potential of raising sea levels by 4,8 meters (16 feet). This problem is still in its early stages, but it obviously causes a lot of concerns about the future. NASA to launch an ice-monitoring satellite Many islands and coastal areas have already been affected by the sea level rise and accurate predictions could help minimize the negative impacts. In order to help scientists make these predictions, NASA is launching ICESat-2 – a new satellite that will measure the changing heights of Earth’s polar ice using 6 lasers. These lasers will send 10’000 pulses per second, allowing for the measurements to be taken with incredible precision. The ICESat-2 is scheduled to launch on 15 th  of September and the mission has been slated for 3 years, but it can be extended. All of the researchers agree on one thing – sea level is rising at accelerated rate and it is likely directly linked to global warming. There is nothing we can do to reverse the sea level rise, but we can slow down climate change before it is too late. Have you experienced the effects of sea level rise? Share your opinion with us in the comments! https://www.whatsorb.com/solution/climate/general
We have all heard that the sea level is rising, but many feel that this change is insignificant, almost negligible. Indeed, this change has so far been happening very slowly – since 1900, the sea has risen only about 8 inches (20.3 cm) in total. However, more than a third of that increase has occurred in the past 25 years. So why is that happening and what can we expect in the years to come? Antarctica’s ice is disappearing at alarming rates Recent study done by the IMBIE (Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise) team, an international collaboration of polar scientists, has shown that Antarctica is quickly becoming one of the largest contributors to sea level rise. In 2012, it was estimated that  Antartic ice melt was causing global sea levels to rise by 0.2mm a year – however, this number has increased to 0.6mm per year. This threefold increase is very significant, considering that it only happened within 5 years’ time. In order to understand why the ice is melting so much faster, the scientists had to study the changes in all 3 areas of Antarctica’s ice sheet: the Antarctic peninsula, West Antarctica and East Antarctica. It appears that West Antarctica has lost the highest volume of ice, thus being the region to contribute most to the sea level change. The reason why West Antarctica is most susceptible to melting is because it is largely made up of glaciers that are located below sea level. Traditionally, when thinking of ice melting, we usually imagine it melting from above as it gets heated from the air, sunlight and infrared energy from the atmosphere. However, recent studies have shown that most of the melting occurs from below – and it is causing more melting. The devastating melting cycle When glaciers melt, they release fresh water into the ocean, making the surface around them less salty and therefore less dense. This slows down or in some cases even prevents natural mixing of the ocean. During winter, the cooler water from the surface cannot mix with warmer water below, allowing the latter to retain its heat and melt the glaciers from below. More fresh water gets released and this cycle repeats itself again, each time accelerating the rates at which the glaciers melt. Currently, ice shelves hold the Antarctic ice sheet in place. The trapped warm waters flowing underneath the shelves can break them down into smaller pieces, making them unable to support the ice sheet. Melting of the ice sheet would lead to catastrophic consequences – West Antarctic part ice sheet alone would raise the sea levels by more than 3 meters (9,8 feet). While West Antarctic is currently the biggest concern, it seems like East Antarctic is also being affected by this devastating cycle. Some of its largest glaciers are starting to show signs of melting and they have the potential of raising sea levels by 4,8 meters (16 feet). This problem is still in its early stages, but it obviously causes a lot of concerns about the future. NASA to launch an ice-monitoring satellite Many islands and coastal areas have already been affected by the sea level rise and accurate predictions could help minimize the negative impacts. In order to help scientists make these predictions, NASA is launching ICESat-2 – a new satellite that will measure the changing heights of Earth’s polar ice using 6 lasers. These lasers will send 10’000 pulses per second, allowing for the measurements to be taken with incredible precision. The ICESat-2 is scheduled to launch on 15 th  of September and the mission has been slated for 3 years, but it can be extended. All of the researchers agree on one thing – sea level is rising at accelerated rate and it is likely directly linked to global warming. There is nothing we can do to reverse the sea level rise, but we can slow down climate change before it is too late. Have you experienced the effects of sea level rise? Share your opinion with us in the comments! https://www.whatsorb.com/solution/climate/general
Climate Change: Antarctica Is Melting Says NASA
Climate Change: Antarctica Is Melting Says NASA
Climate

Climate change! Currently, the most discussed topic in the world. Climate change occurs when changes in Earth's climate system result in new weather patterns that last for at least a few decades, and maybe for millions of years. Climate change can also result from ‘external forcing’ and include changes in solar output and volcanism.

Human activities can also influence our climate. Debates, posts and answers on (social) platforms about the role of humanity in the climate change process regularly lead to heated discussions

If there was an urge to come up with a sustainable way of living solutions and share these topics globally it’s now! WhatsOrb Global Sustainability X-change Platform is for you, storytellers and influencers to write about tiny houses, your experiences and expectations for the future at home and globally. 

Global Sustainability X-change, that’s what you can do together with WhatsOrb. What's in for me?

Get updates on environmental sustainability in your mailbox every month.