The world is abuzz and drowning with both woke and indifferent news about climate change. From Greta to Trump, it seems people’s views on the matter vary just about as much as political beliefs and religion. However, regardless of what your personal views about climate change may be about or actually is, hard facts and years of study on the complex interconnected dots between man and nature are hard to deny.
So what is Climate Change? First, the climate is the prevailing weather systems in a large area for an extended period of time. What generally affects it is the energy coming in and out of that system from within and outside that system. In our case, energy from the sun comes into Earth and bounces back out, with some of that energy trapped in due to our ozone layer. From within the Earth itself, everything that happens contributes to how much of the Sun’s energy gets trapped inside while also contributing to that with our own energy from factories, cars, the hustle and bustle of population centers, etc. Change in the climate happens when the amount of energy we generate from within, and the amount of energy we trap inside accumulates or dissipates to the point where the weather systems are affected.
The weather changes, so what? If you’re thinking just hotter summers or heavier rains that ruin your commute to work, you aren’t really grasping the reality of the situation. The weather systems that have been in place for millennia have been what allowed humans to thrive and eventually dominate the world we live in. They have allowed plants and animals to thrive in a self-sustaining circle of life, and they have made the diverse landscape of the world possible from frozen tundras to hot deserts to humid jungles to temperate countrysides. A change in the weather patterns, even a minor one, can cause major chain reactions and extreme side effects.
One such effect is a rise in sea levels. This is caused by the polar ice caps melting due to rising global temperatures. A rise in sea levels means a greater risk of flooding in coastal areas, reduced land area or total submerging of island nations, and negative impacts on coastal ecosystems and wildlife.
As the polar ice caps melt, so does sea ice. Sea ice positively contributes to reflecting sunlight back out of the Earth. However, the Arctic sea is currently melting at a rate of 13.2% per decade compared to the last 3 to 4 decades. This means the rising temperatures will rise at a faster rate.
Going back to the more general definition of changing weather patterns, agricultural trades are greatly affected given their reliance on seasonal weather patterns for maximized yield. Livestock is harder to raise, crops are harder to grow, and in turn, the food supply for a population becomes more scarce. If you’re lucky, you’ll only see a rise in prices for your fruits, eggs, and vegetables. But it can be much, much harder than that.
These changes are just a few examples of how climate change can affect you. But the worst one is how it can potentially make the world uninhabitable to humans when it reaches a really bad point. Before that happens, let’s take a moment and remember to be good and responsible stewards of our planet.