Climate Change: Current Issues

Introduction

It is said that there is climate change when any alteration of long-term weather pattern of a region, such as temperature change and changes in wind patterns or average temperatures, occurs. The result may affect one region or a larger area. A change of energy within the earth’s atmosphere also causes climatic changes. It is then spread around the world through ocean currents, weather patterns, and the wind, thus affecting different regions’ climate. Other contributing causes of climate change are natural processes like variations in the sun’s intensity, volcanic eruptions, or human activities, such as cutting down trees and emission of greenhouse gasses. Since many systems are tied to climate, its change can impact on another related aspects of where and how plants, animals, and people live, hence resulting in health risks and affecting the availability of water and food production

Scientific Opinions and Hypotheses on Climate Change

National and international scientific groups have issued statements both detailing and summarizing the current state of scientific knowledge on the earth’s climate. To start with, the American Geophysical Union says that the earth’s climate is changing as a result of human activities. It continues to expound that there has been witnessed an increased amount of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gasses emission from the beginning of Industrial Revolution. These gasses are the main causes of the excessive surface warming over the past 150 years. While there are doubts of impacts to be experienced, there are no suspicions that could make results of climate change insignificant. Additionally, unpredicted outcomes may cause even further dramatic changes.

Another scientific organization that has declared its position on global warming is the Geological Society of London. In its report, it states that for the past century, there has been an increase in the growth of human population, thus leading to further boost in resources utilization. This has raised the rate at which gasses like methane and carbon dioxide from the burning of fossils, cement production, agriculture, and deforestation are emitted in the atmosphere. It further adds to the evidence from geological records, which are in agreement with the physics, that explains the effects of addition of large amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere warming the planet, with a probability of leading to floods on the low-lying costs, rising sea levels, and change in rainfall patterns. The Geological Society of London is worried that the earth’s climate will warm further because of the continued increase in human population, thus posing a great challenge to the condition. This means that an increase in human population will lead to another climate change. Earlier before the growth of human population, an increase in sea level had a slight effect on people. Equally, climate change makes some areas experience less precipitation, which leads to drought. Therefore, there will be a large-scaled result of human migration due to both increasing drought and rising seas.

In addition to the aforementioned scientific organizations, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) also came out with its opinion on climatic change. The opinion is highlighted in the statement adopted by its Council in 2012. It stated about the availability of evidence on climate change which is mainly caused by human activities. It continues explaining that the available scientific evidence is based on reliable research and that the climate change being experienced at the moment will be irreversible for years to come as more greenhouse gasses is continuously released to the atmosphere. Furthermore, this continuous climatic change will increase stress and risks experienced by human societies, ecosystems, economies, and wildlife in the course of the 21st century and more decades to come, hence making the society respond to climate change. The extent of the future impact of climate change is determined by economic, technological, and policy choices to be made.

Current Issues and Observable Effects of Climate Change

Effects of Climate Change in Russia

Russia experiences imbalance in the rainfall rates, among other weather phenomena, in the form of drought, floods, rapid frosts, heat waves, heavy snowfalls, and tornados. These events affect Russia’s economy significantly. In accordance with the research report of 2013, without sufficient actions to adjust agriculture to climate change that leads to a decrease in yields, the cost of the produce will increase from RUB 109 billion in 2020 to 121 billion in 2050. Also, the melting of permafrost in the northern regions of Russia as a result of climate change leads to various infrastructure issues, thus proving there is a need for construction of new pipelines and roads. While the greater part of northern Russia is entirely rural, it produces about 75 percent of Russia’s oil and about 90 percent of natural gas. Therefore, even if the permafrost melting processes do not influence a greater part of Russia’s population, they will affect Russia’s ability to extract. Russia’s annual expenditure on maintenance of the pipelines has increased gradually from 1.9 billion in 2010, and it is expected to increase more in the future as the universal temperatures rise.

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There are also suggestions that climate change and the increase in temperature will have some positive impacts on Russia. These benefits are anticipated to come from the Arctic region. The melting of the arctic’s sea ice will lead to improvement in the navigation of sea lanes. In addition to that, an increase in the global temperature rates will reduce the cost of supplying heat to people who live in isolated regions. Others hold that an increase in temperature due to climate change will impact positively on Russia’s agriculture. Research by Illinois University suggests that climate change will result in an increase in Russia’s arable land by 40 to 70 percent. Despite the fact that this may sound promising, the existing agricultural system of Russia may not be able to take advantages of these promising gains.

Effects of Climate Change in China

Currently, China is the largest emitter of GHGs in the world. This has led to a rise in international pressure since the early 1900s. China has begun experiencing challenges on its environment, thus having pushed it to take cautions to fight the challenge brought by climate change. According to a report released in 2011 by China’s scientists, it is most probable that in the future, this climate change would cause significant impacts on water resources, ecosystem, agriculture, and China’s coastal zones. The country has started experiencing massive flooding, a decline in agricultural output, and droughts. This has attracted different stakeholders’ attention, whereby they point out that apart from affecting the environment, climate change also poses a major threat to mankind. Members of the international community have appealed to each and everyone to stand together to safeguard the home of humankind as the climate change has become a threat to it. Predicted future effects of climate change may make China take more severe actions. Some of the predictions state that the amount of rainfall will continue decreasing in northern China, hence resulting to a scarcity of fresh water. Contrary, it is predicted that there will be an increase in the rainfall intensity in the southern China, which will, in turn, lead to more rigorous flooding shortly. It is further expected that the intensity of China’s heat will increase because of climate change.

Effects of Climate Change in India

Climate change is a complex problem facing India today. India experiences an increase in ocean temperature, rising sea level, and widespread melting of ice and snow. These issues have resulted in the rise in conditions affecting agriculture, including glacial runoff, precipitation, and high temperature. Agriculture is the backbone of Indian economy. Thus, it will be affected by the fluctuations in rainfall patterns. Climate change can cause a huge biodiversity loss, and the effect will be felt equally by individual species and their ecosystem. Overwhelming effects on many animals’ habitats and plants as a result of climate change are probably sent existing plant and animal species to extinction.

Conclusion

Since many systems are tied to climate, its change can affect many related aspects of where and how plants, animals, and people live, what health risks they are exposed to, and how available the water and food production is. National and global stakeholders should devise the best way to deal with climate change. Mitigation will lead to a reduction in future climate change and the risks associated with it. In the same case, some continued climate change is to be expected; therefore, the policies should include ways of adapting to climate shifts as the matter of climate change cuts across all government ministries and society. The menace can be dealt with in two ways, with one of them being just letting things go on the way they are and the other way being practical, both at domestic and international levels, in order to minimize the adverse effects of climate change.

 

Bibliography

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Climate Change 2014 – Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability: Regional Aspects. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.

Lazarus, Richard J. “Super Wicked Problems and Climate Change: Restraining the Present to Liberate the Future.” Cornell L. Rev. 94 (2008): 1153.

Nordhaus, William D. “A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change.” Journal of Economic Literature 45, no. 3 (2007): 686-702.

Oreskes, Naomi. “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change.” Science 306, no. 5702 (2004): 1686-1686.

Stern, Nicholas. “The Economics of Climate Change.” American Economic Review 98, no. 2 (2008): 1-37.

Walther, Gian-Reto, Eric Post, Peter Convey, Annette Menzel, Camille Parmesan, Trevor JC Beebee, Jean-Marc Fromentin, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, and Franz Bairlein. “Ecological Responses to Recent Climate Change.” Nature 416, no. 6879 (2002): 389-395.