Firstly, what is climate change?
Climate change is defined as ‘the long-term shift in average weather patterns across the world’. It is a natural process and without it our planet would be 30°C cooler. Hostile to life.
The release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere creates a thick blanket around our planet, insulating it. This is where the name ‘greenhouse’ comes from.
When we burn fossil fuels like coal, gas and oil, we release gases that trap heat from the sun’s incoming rays. Faster warming corresponds with the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and therefore carbon dioxide is labelled as a major offender contributing to this crisis. Our apparent need for burning hydrocarbon fuels such as wood and coal really doesn’t help.
As we cut down forests and burn fossil fuels, we are releasing carbon that combines with oxygen in the air which predominately forms CO2 and water vapour.
It has been said that there is now more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than there has been for millions of years and it is all down to us humans. CO2 is a natural part of our world’s natural ecosystem but the problem is the amount of it we are producing.
When our carbon-absorbing forests are cut down and left to rot, the stored carbon they held is released – contributing to our global warming crisis.
Global warming is likely to be one of the greatest causes of species extinctions this century.
An average temperature increase of just 1.5°C may put 20% – 30% of species at risk and if the planet’s temperature increases by 2°C, a great percentage of our ecosystems would struggle.
Climate change is happening so quickly that many species cannot adapt quick enough to survive in these conditions. Ultimately, this will lead to the extinction of many of our most beloved animals.
As climate change has become a hot topic over the years there is a lot of confusion about what it actually is and what we can do to help prevent the situation from worsening.
Here are some of the myths:
1. The planets’s climate change has always changed like this…
- Yes, over the Earth’s 4.5 billion year history the climate has changed a lot but the rapid warming we are seeing now is NOT NATURAL. We are seeing a millenniums worth of change in just a couple of decades. 17 of the 18 hottest years on record have been since 2001. Our problem started back during the industrial revolution so when people talk about climate change today, they mean anthropocentric (man-made) climate change.
2. Getting rid of humans will fix this…
- The systems we need to live in harmony with our planet and switch to an 100% sustainable energy lifesytle by 2045 are already available. Everyone just needs to make a small lifesytle change and pitch in together to help save our planet for the better.
3. Renewable energy can only work when it’s not cloudy or windy…
- Many industries are developing new techniques for storing electricity and managing to deliver great service at peak times throughout the day. This means that it won’t matter if there is no sun shining or wind blowing.
4. Polar bear numbers are increasing…
- NO, THEY ARE NOT! The arctic, which is warming roughly twice as fast as the rest of the world, is causing sea ice to melt earlier and form later each year. This makes it harder for female polar bears to reach land in late autumn to build their dens and feed their cubs; it becomes increasingly difficult on the ice considering there is progressively less of it to hunt on. Their prey (ringed and bearded seals) can’t get onto the ice to raise their pup’s which subsequently decreases the amount of food for the polar bears. Therefore, the whole food chain collapses. Polar bear numbers are predicted to decline by 30% by the middle of this century.
5. Global warming isn’t real as it is still cold outside
- Global warming causes the earth’s average surface to increase, this then increases the chances of more extreme weather conditions such as droughts, heatwaves, monsoons etc. These events will just become more severe and frequent. For example, hurricanes and storms are already becoming more and more intense and are moving slower and are taking longer to die down. In the UK, we are more likely to get more rain and wind whereas New York will see more snow.
6. Renewable energy is just a money-making scheme
- Solar and wind power are the cheapest ways of generating electricity. The energy they produce is cheaper than using nuclear, gas and fossil fuels. The cost of these renewable energy sources has dropped significantly and yet most governments are still backing fossil fuels over this. In the UK alone we spend a ridiculous £10.5 billion a year supporting these dirty fossil fuels.