Climate Change and Youth
CLIMATE CHANGE AND YOU(TH)
The rain these days are so unpredictable, the season are deviating from what we have in past. We encounter dry spells now at times at critical stage of crop growth.
In today’s world, “our experiences” are not what it used to be in times past. The life today present a wide range of educational, health, social and environmental experiences that depart in major ways from those of two or three generations ago. Those different experiences can be attributed to the effects of industrialization, technological advances and widespread economic development.
In this day, some still see climate change as something abstract or a big scientific word and so means nothing serious. In attempt to create awareness about climate change, the book aims to analyze and discuss the basics of climate change for better understanding in simple, non-scientific language
The environment is what supports life on Earth which includes land water and atmosphere; it also includes things we cannot see with human eyes. The atmosphere contains air, which is a complex mixture of gases that surrounds the Earth, performing many functions and helping to support life on our planet. These gases in our atmosphere include: water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. The environment is not the same everywhere; it changes from season to season and from place to place. It is affected by so many factors like amount of rainfall, sunshine, vegetation cover etc.
Weather can be described as the state of atmosphere with regards to temperature, cloudiness, wind and other meteorological conditions.
Climate is the weather of a place observed over period of time or can be described as a synthesis of weather at a given location or area over a period of time. Climate represents the mean state of the atmosphere over a location or an area over a period of time say 30 years.
Climate change can be described as a marked change in long term “average” of a regions weather condition. This represents a significant impact on the environment. Such impacts are felt through late rains, short harmattan period and even warmer temperature. One big reason why the climate is changing is because the world temperature is rising, this fondly termed as global warming. This rise in temperature is due to increase in the presence of greenhouse gases in the air. Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are gases that trap heat in the air; they are gases like methane, nitrous oxide, carbon oxide etc. The greenhouse gases cause the temperature to rise and this leads to global warming.
A greenhouse is an artificial environment made with glass for growing crops. Greenhouse use glass to keep the heat in, this can further be illustrated with a car parked out in the sun with all the glasses wound up. When driver returns after some time, the heat in the car is unbearable. The driver will need to wind down the glass and wait for the heat to escape. This is the “greenhouse effect”. The glass of the greenhouse and the car can be likened to the screen formed over the earth by greenhouse gases. The screen allows heat from the sun to pass through and traps the heat being reflected from the Earth.
Water Vapour: This is the most common greenhouse gas. It occurs naturally and it is also a by product from industrial processes. It is water in gaseous state.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2): This is the most abundant greenhouse gas. It can be natural or man-made; it is the major contributor to climate change. Global deforestation, the clearing of forested areas also adds to the CO2 levels because plants absorb Carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, and when there are fewer trees there is less carbon dioxide absorbed.
Methane: This is produced naturally when vegetation is burned, digested without the presence of oxygen. Today, large amount of methane is being released by garbage dumps, rice paddies, gas flaring and livestock waste.
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs): They are industrial chemicals made by humans and used in air conditioning, foam, and cleaning solvents. CFCs also damage the ozone layer.
Nitrous Oxide: This gas also occurs naturally in the environment, however, in recent years, quantities have increased because of human activities. It is released when nitrate fertilizer is used and fossil fuels are burned.
THE EARTH GETTING WARMER
The atmosphere contains air, which is a complex mixture of gases that surrounds the Earth, performing many functions and helping to support life on our planet. These gases in our atmosphere act like a green house, retaining the heat hence making the Earth warm. Without the greenhouse gases the heat would escape and the average temperature would drop from 15 degrees Celsius to 18 degrees Celsius.
Human activities have been contributing to increase in the amount of Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Today burning of fossil fuels to power our cars, trucks, homes and industries is increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. The trees and vegetation that absorb carbon dioxide are being felled at a fast rate for human settlements, agriculture. The more the greenhouse gases the more the heat that is being trapped and the warmer the Earth gets.
CLIMATE CHANGE EFFECT
The effects of changes in the world average temperature are being felt. Depending on where you live, the consequences of warmer temperature are as follows: Severe Weather Events such as thunder storms, heavy rains, Longer and more intense heat waves could make air pollution. Air pollution has been linked to increased deaths and respiratory diseases. Inconsistent rain fall has affected agriculture production because of the deviation in planting season. More droughts could harm crop yields and increase the risk of forest fire, extreme weather conditions also causes loss of biodiversity. Climate change is caused by the emission of greenhouse gasses (GHGs) released from burning fossil fuels and from land use change, particularly the removal of forests which accounts for almost 20% of global emissions (more than the transport industry). The countries that developed first, for example the UK, US, Russia and France, have emitted vastly more GHGs then the countries currently called ‘developing’, such as Nigeria, Haiti, Malawi and Bangladesh. Ironically, scientists say that it is the developing countries that will be hardest hit. This change will have far reaching and unpredictable consequences, including excessive heat, water scarcity, erratic rainfall patterns, and prolonged drought leading to crop and livestock failure in some areas and in others, it will cause flooding, gully erosion, severe storms, epidemics and so on and so forth. Although climate change is a global issue, studies have shown that the degree of vulnerability to climate change impacts varies from one country to another and from regions to regions in between or outside transnational boundaries.
THE WAY OUT
We do not sit and watch thinking there is nothing we can do to help reduce the greenhouse gases. A lot can be done to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions. It is important that we share any knowledge we have and read more about Climate Change. We can also involve in activities to reduce it. Such activities include but not limited to the following: Planting Trees, trees absorb carbon dioxide, filter out pollution, provide shade etc. Carbon dioxide is the major contributor to the greenhouse effect. Forests and vegetation can absorb and utilize carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for photosynthesis. A single tree can remove thousands of tones of carbon dioxide during its lifetime. Imagine this on a scale of forest containing thousands of trees; consider how much carbon dioxide can be removed by planting trees. It is a very effective defense against the incidence of climate change and also performs other important functions like conserve biodiversity, provide wildlife habitat, serves as gene pool, raw material for medicine and industries etc. Reuse, Recycle and Reduce, it takes much less energy to reuse or recycle a product than to make a new one. Correctly composting domestic waste eliminates the methane. Use your car less, walk, cycle or try ride sharing to schools or when going out with friends to same destination. Others include, turning off the lights when they are not needed or when you leave a room, hanging clothes outside to dry on sunny days. Get plugged out! Computers are the world’s fastest growing energy user. Turn your computer and printer off when you are not using them. That goes for TV, CD player and radio too. If we all do this, it will go a long way to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
It is everybody’s duty to protect the environment. Each and every one of us can make a difference. No matter how big or small, we all have something special and unique to give to the world. I hope we will all see it as our responsibility to protect our environment as the environment is our future so we need to protect it, ask yourself, “How can I change the world?”
Together we can change and unite the world, one person at time.