A little while ago I created a little Instagram graphic/info post explaining what climate change is and why we should care. I thought it would be a good idea to also share the information I found on here as well.
I want to mention, that I researched this information for a radio show that I run with my best friends. All the sources will be linked down below, and if you’re interested in learning more about my radio show, click here.
So, what is climate change?
The Australian Academy of Science defines climate change as a change in the pattern of weather, and related changes in oceans, land surfaces and ice sheets.
It is a change in the statistical properties of our climate system that persists for at least 30 years.
Climate change is caused by a combination of natural processes and human influence. Some natural processes include the sun’s radiation, volcanoes, or internal variability in the climate.
It’s heavily influenced by human activities, such as man-made changes to the atmosphere like greenhouse gasses, deforestation, landfill, and everyday pollution and waste.
Through our actions the Earth’s atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other chemically manufactured greenhouse gases are increasing. These gasses enhance the natural greenhouse gas effect and further warm the Earth’s surface.
Human activities and chemically manufactured greenhouse gases are enhancing and speeding up the natural greenhouse gas effect.
There are connections between temperature, atmospheric water vapour, the extent of ice sheets and the concentrations of long-lived greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere. When one of these is disturbed, the others react through ‘feedback’ processes that may either amplify or dampen the original disturbance.
Everything is interwined.
Water vapour accounts for approximately half of the natural greenhouse effect. Its concentrations in the atmosphere are controlled by temperatures and winds, which is in contrast to other greenhouse gases that are directly influenced by human actions.
When our global average temperatures rise, global water vapour concentrations increase and amplify the inital warming through an enhanced greenhouse effect. Human activity indirectly leads to increases in water vapour concentrations.
And, these increased concentrations have been observed and attributed to warming, and approximately doubles the sensitivity of the climate to human activities.
Six common causes
- Burning fossil fuels
- Agriculture and farming
- Fast fashion
- Plastic production and single use waste
Burning fossil fuels
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has found that emissions from fossil fuels are the dominant cause of global warming. In 2018, 89% of global carbon dioxide emissions came from fossil fuels & industry. Coal is the single largest source of the rising global temperature. Burning oil releases approximately a third of the world’s total carbon emissions (not to mention oil spills). Natural gas is a fossil fuel & accounts for a fifth of the world’s total carbon emissions.
It’s estimated that 25% of the world’s total greenhouse gas production comes from deforestation alone. Forests around the world store more than double the amount of carbon dioxide than is found in the atmosphere. This means that when areas are deforested, the carbon dioxide stored in those trees is released into the atmosphere.
Agriculture & farming
Agriculture & farming can be closely linked to deforestation. The main sources of agricultural greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide from tropical deforestation, methane from livestock and rice production, and nitrous oxide from fertilising or burning croplands. Agriculture is responsible for around half of the global methane emissions & methane is 26 times stronger as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
Based on estimated annual global textile production of 60 billion kilograms of fabric, the estimated energy and water needed to produce that 60 billion kgs of fabrics is 1,074 billion KWh of electricity (or 132 million metric tons of coal) and between 6 – 9 trillion litres of water.
In 2010, landfill released nearly 800 million tonnes (882 million tons) of carbon dioxide worldwide which is about 11% of all methane generated by humans. Toxins released in landfill also leach into our soil and groundwater, becoming hazardous – particularly electronic waste.
Plastic production & single use waste
Fossil fuels are the building blocks of plastics. It’s estimated that 12.5 to 13.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide are emitted per year while extracting and transporting natural gas to create feedstocks for plastics in the US alone. This is just the production. In 2019, researchers estimated the production & incineration of plastic pumped out more than 850 million tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. As the climate changes, the planet gets hotter, the plastic breaks down into more methane and ethylene, which increases the rate of climate change. It becomes a vicious cycle.
This post only scratches the surface of climate change. Although, I hope it gives you a better understanding on why it’s happening. You can check out my little infographic I made for Instagram below.
Let me know if you like these kind of posts!