By Marios Chourpiliadis
CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES OF CLIMATE CHANGE
The main cause of climate change is global warming, which has many negative consequences on physical, biological and human systems, as well as other effects.
CAUSES OF CLIMATE CHANGE
Global warming is caused by the greenhouse effect, a natural process by which the atmosphere retains some of the Sun’s heat, allowing the Earth to maintain the necessary conditions to host life. Without the greenhouse effect, the average temperature of the planet would be -180C.
The problem is that daily human activities maximize the greenhouse effect, causing the planet’s temperature to increase even more.
WHEN DID HUMANS FIRST BEGIN TO CAUSE CLIMATE CHANGE?
Experts agree that the Industrial Revolution was the turning point when emissions of greenhouse effect gases entering the atmosphere began to soar. The Industrial Revolution was itself borne out of smaller revolutions: agricultural, technological, demographic, transport, finance… creating a new model of production and consumption.
From then onward, population growth (in 1750, there were fewer than 800 million people on Earth, whereas now we are over 7.5 billion), exploding resource use, increasing energy demand and production, mainly from fossil fuels, all saw the planet enter into what the scientific community have termed the Anthropocene period, a new geological era characterized by human impact on Earth.
The main impact was the increase in the global temperature of the planet, which has risen 1.1°C since this period, although it is estimated that, by the end of the present Century, the thermometer could rise by 2.7 °C even if national commitments to reduce emissions are fulfilled.
CONSEQUENCES OF CLIMATE CHANGE
The global temperature increase brings disastrous consequences, endangering the survival of the Earth’s flora and fauna, including human beings. The worst climate change impacts include the melting of the ice mass at the poles, which in turn causes rising sea level, producing flooding and threatening coastal environments through which small island states risk disappearing entirely.
Climate change also increases the appearance of more violent weather phenomena, drought, fires, the death of animal and plant species, flooding from rivers and lakes, the creation of climate refugees and destruction of the food chain and economic resources, especially in developing countries.