Climate change, the end of the planet as we know it?
Climate change is a global problem, produced largely by human action, which affects the entire planet. To this day, trying to hide its existence is impossible. The scientific community, the adverse meteorological phenomena, the melting of the poles and the disappearance of species, make it evident and undeniable. There are reports and important investigations in this regard that cover different areas, broad periods and specific periods of time. Although the study of climate change has not been an easy task, scientists have had to add impediments and little collaboration from companies, institutions and governments throughout history. But when was climate change first talked about? Is it a 21st century phenomenon or was its existence known beforehand? is it a natural process? How has your evolution been in recent years? Find in this article the answers to all these questions, and many more, about the history of climate change.
Is climate change a natural process? And the greenhouse effect?In 1975, Wallace Smith Broecker was the first scientist to coin the term “ climate change ” with his report Climate Change: Are We on the Verge of Global Warming? In his article, Broecker warned about this phenomenon based on tests carried out by himself, as well as by other researchers. Thanks to his way of communicating it, he captured the attention of the entire world, an achievement that no other expert had achieved so far. But what is climate change ? Is it a natural process? No, climate change is the main consequence of the polluting and destructive activities of human beings. Although it is not a natural process, it does affect a phenomenon that is: the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect allows life to be possible on earth. It prevents some of the heat we receive from the sun from spreading out into space. But for this delicate process not to be counterproductive, it must be kept in perfect balance. If the outgoing radiation were greater than the one that enters, a serious cooling of the planet would take place. The opposite effect would bring about warming, which we are currently experiencing and which is causing climate change.
Until 1992 climate change was deniedFor more than a century, the Earth was already giving us signs that we were altering the environment. Industrial development and successive world wars only contributed to weakening the fragile balance of the greenhouse effect. In the middle of the 18th century, the French scientist Joseph Fourier concluded that the distance of the Sun from the Earth was the reason why our planet was habitable. Years later, John Tyndall and Eunice Foote measured the amount of heat certain gases such as CO₂ could store. In 1896, the Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius collected all this information and warned: fossil fuels could lead to accelerated global warming. Likewise, it determined that the average surface temperature should not exceed 15 °C. Unfortunately, all the evidence was rejected until the end of the s. XX. In the 1930s, Guy Callendar managed -in vain- to demonstrate the relationship between rising temperatures with human activity and gas emissions. And so on, until in 1992 no one could turn their back on the problem and the UN accepted that climate change was a man-made threat.
Evolution of climate changeThe evolution of climate change has not always been the same. Throughout history there have been more intense periods than others, but the trend has always been upward. According to the Fifth Assessment Report published by the UN: “From 1880 to 2012, the global average temperature increased by 0.85 °C”. An apparently slight increase, but which produced a sea rise of 19 centimeters from 1901 to 2010. Although these data are already quite worrying, the situation does not seem to have improved, according to the latest analysis between 2015 and 2019. Here are some figures:
- The acidity level of the oceans has increased by 26% since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
- The 2017 hurricane season was one of the most devastating ever known.
- Heat waves were the deadliest weather hazard.
- The annual melting of the Antarctic ice cover has increased by at least six times.
5 pieces of evidence proving climate changeThroughout the history of climate change, the evidence to prove it has been present. Today, these evidences are cause and consequence that are affecting everyone's safety and quality of life. Here are 5 recent pieces of evidence:
- Increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events
- Extinction of numerous plant and animal species such as the male white rhinoceros
- Disappearance of islands like Gundul and Betet in Indonesia
- 17 degrees in Greenland in June 2019 (14 degrees above normal)
- Droughts generate very serious forest fires like the last one in California
We need a change of habits, not climateAfter more than a century and a half of industrialization, deforestation and large-scale agriculture, the time has come to stop. Although the current consequences are already irreversible, what we can do is prevent them from getting worse. Adopting a more sustainable lifestyle , supporting the development of clean energy and contributing to the circular economy is key. From now on, the change must be of habits and not climatic. The future of the next generations depends on what we do today. Nature has shown that without us it can continue perfectly. Therefore, let us avoid reaching this point. Among all, and within the possible measure of each one, we must contribute for good in the history of climate change.