Climate change is a complex and multifaceted issue with various impacts on natural and human systems. For example, the continuous burning of fossil fuels and deforestation of the planet releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and creates global warming. In addition, issues ranging from rising sea levels to social justice and inequality have affected human lives and communities, creating an environmental crisis. Addressing these issues requires collective global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, transition to clean energy sources, adapt to changing conditions and promote sustainable practices.
Global warming caused by fossil fuels continues to increase temperatures and leads to many environmental consequences. Since the mid-20th century, greenhouse gases trapped in the earth’s atmosphere have caused the planet to warm, primarily due to human activities such as burning fossil fuels and industrial manufacturing. Another contributor to global warming is the burning of coal and oil which has increased the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide; the use of coal for providing fuel and heat, combined with the massive production of oil by large corporations, has increased carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere by 50% since 1750. Scientists know that this increase is caused by human activitieswhich have resulted in heat waves, droughts, and desertification. Another negative consequence of rising temperatures is the displacement of cities and villages along the coastlines caused by rising sea levels and melting glaciers and polar ice caps. The consequences of these factors over the last 150 years have been from human activity and will increase global warming if not addressed by governments, businesses, and individuals.
The most significant cause of global warming is increasing greenhouse emissions from vehicles and industries through burning fossil fuels and human expansion. During the last century, the industrial revolution changed humanity with the invention of automobiles and increasing land clearing for agriculture, industry, and human activities. By the mid-20th century, the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere had been raised by nearly 50%. As Pearce (2022) states, “In fact, as NASA’s Dr. Gavin Schmidt has pointed out, the IPCC’s implied best guess was that humans were responsible for around 110% of observed warming (ranging from 72% to 146%), with natural factors in isolation leading to a slight cooling over the past 50 years” (Pearce, 2022).
Deforestation is another major cause of global warming and has been for the better part of the last century. Forests cover approximately 30% of the earth’s land surface, provide oxygen for the planet, and cool the earth’s surface from becoming too warm. Forests also provide moisture which causes rainfall and prevents the land surface from overheating; this keeps the planet’s ecosystem, which supports life, in balance. Shifts in precipitation affect the availability and quality of water resources, exacerbating water scarcity issues. Since 2000, forests have removed almost two billion metric tons of carbon from the atmosphere, slowing global warming. Healthy forests provide animals and humans with fresh water and a safe habitat to flourish and survive. Clearing forests for agriculture, manufacturing, and construction is leading the world down a path to climate disaster that has no return path.
Finally, one of the consequences of climate change is social justice and equality, which affects everyone. Climate change disproportionately affects vulnerable communities, creating social inequalities between different groups, such as refugees being forced to relocate to wealthy countries, exacerbating the immigration issues of these nations. While rich countries can allocate money toward fighting climate change, low-income communities and developing countries often bear the brunt of climate impacts while having limited resources to adapt or recover. Many communities are not yet prepared to face climate change, and more must be done to protect vulnerable groups from the dangers of starvation, drought, and rising sea levels.
Addressing these issues requires a collective effort from governments, businesses, and individuals from all countries to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. Education and investing in resilient infrastructure to resist further climate change are necessary to avert a crisis. International cooperation, policy changes, technological innovation, and individual actions all have a role to play in reducing emissions and adapting climate resilience measures. If future generations are to survive on this planet, we must take collective action now and transition to clean energy sources, adapt to changing conditions, and promote sustainable practices.
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