The Climate Part 1: Where We're At

This is the first post in a two part series going over where we are in terms of the climate emergency and the steps we need to take to get out of it. In this first part, we will go over the state the world is in and why we are in a state of climate emergency. It is important to remember through this post that our world is going to be fine, this is not about whether or not we are killing the planet but rather how we are making it wholly inhabitable for our species. The planet was always going to outlast us but for some reason we seem quite keen to get to the point where we can no longer live on it.

I will not be able to cover much of the extensive research that has gone into defining how our planet is changing the way that it is. This post is meant to be an overview and by no means a comprehensive deep dive. I will link additional research at the bottom of the page for those of you who would like to know more. I will also be putting together a list of the top 10 books to read on the topic of climate change in the near future so keep your eyes out for that one.

For each one of the topics below describing one symptom of climate change, we will go over what the symptom is, how it came to be, and how it affects you as an individual. We do it in this way to first, educate the population on the effects of climate change, and second, frame it in a way that people can easily digest as it pertains to their every day life.

Warming World

Warming Planet

What Is It?

There's no doubt about it, the world is warming up. The running stat recorded by NASA and climate.gov is that the earth has been steadily warming up since 1880 by about 0.8°C and 75% of that temperature increase has occurred since 1975 (it's getting warmer faster friends).

You might be thinking "0.8°? I though this climate change thing was a big deal! That's nothing." And you would be grossly mistaken my friend. 

Think about how much energy needs to go into a body the size of a PLANET to make it rise 1 degree in temperature. It is a huge deal for our planet to sway either direction by 1°, in fact, a 1 or 2° drop has plunged the earth into an ice age in the past according to NASA.

So what's causing this increase in temperature you ask? 

Humans.

There is a mass amount of research pointing to the effect humans are having on the warming planet. As an example, anthropogenic (I had to look it up too) emissions of greenhouse gasses are the highest in history according to the IPCC.

Our mass consumption of meat for example is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gasses emitted into the atmosphere (article) . Reliance on transportation, electricity, and consumables are also not helping and none of those things are as prevalent as they are without a human population. 

Now keep in mind that 1 degree is the average. If you walk outside and it's cold out, think critically and don't dismiss this as pseudo science. If it's cold where you are, it's probably hotter somewhere else.

What Effect Does It Have On Me?

 Well with this one unfortunately, depending on where you live, the only things affecting you might literally be that it gets hotter outside. In first world countries, there will almost always be a way to get food to your house, and a roof over your head if things get a little dicey outside. 

In other countries though, they are not so lucky. Warming temperatures are seriously going mess with the availability of crops, make certain places too hot to inhabit, and melt our glaciers and ice caps, raising the sea levels and pushing people in coastal areas out of their homes. That last sentence transitions nicely into our next big issue.

Rising Sea Levels

Rising Sea Levels

What Is It?

As greenhouse gasses are emitted into the atmosphere, they act as a blanket and warm the planet up as we talked about in the last section. As the earth warms, the ice on the planet melts and raises our sea levels. Pretty simple in theory disastrous to watch in practice. Sea levels are rising at a pace of about 3mm per year, like the warming numbers, this may seem like a small number but over the planet, 3mm a year is disastrous.

Also like the numbers in the previous section, the effects will not be seen uniformly around the world. Because the planet is not a perfect sphere on the surface, some places may actually experience a decrease in sea levels (excuse me?). Rest assured though, this is going to be a major problem for a lot of people.

What Effect Does It Have On Me?

Remember hearing about trade routes in high school social studies? Here is a refresher if you don't (I had to freshen up). The cities that were placed at the intersection of the most routes tended to do better when it came to trading. This boosted their economies and bank of information and is the main they are massive hubs even today.

What does that have to do with the sea you might ask? C'mon now this one's easy.

Many of these routes brought goods and knowledge from one land mass to another by boat. That means that a lot of the hubs located on intersecting routes are coastal cities.

I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this. 

According to Columbia University, 40% of the worlds population lives within 100km of a coastline. That is a significant amount of the population that could be displaced if sea levels rise as they are forecasted in the next 100 years. In fact, at the time of writing this, Venice is literally under water.

Natural Disasters

Rain

What Is It?

 As temperatures rise and the climate changes, natural disasters are becoming more and more commonplace. According to the union of concerned scientists (ucsusa), mega-storms like Hurricane Harvey have gone from occurring once every 100 years, to once every 16 years. 

While we can't definitely attribute this to climate change per-say, there is strong evidence suggesting that it is at least partially the cause. Warming temperatures and rising sea levels are contributors to a large percentage of the natural disasters that occur on the planet and those are due to our changing climate so like, do the math. 

What Effect Does It Have On Me?

This one effects everyone no matter where you live. Some sort of extreme weather is native to every region on this planet whether it be extreme heat or extreme cold, extreme weather events are familiar to all of us.

It seems like the news is constantly filled with reports about more frequent, more extreme, and more deadly natural disasters. Extreme snowfalls, hurricanes, heat, droughts, and floods are much more likely to happen than they were 100 years ago and scientists expect them to only increase in frequency as time progresses.

Conclusion

The three sections above are in my opinion (factually backed, but still my opinion), the most urgent matters facing our planet. There are more climate related issues I know, but I wanted to bring these to the forefront because they seem to be the most talked about and sometimes the most disputed (I know, that's still a thing). I wanted to highlight the impact on the individual too because I feel it becomes more of a pressing issue when it becomes personal. People are selfish and that isn't going to change, so we need to use that to get the action we need out of them (I'm going to have another blog post on that coming out in the next month so stay tuned). 

In part 2 of this series, we are going to go over what needs to happen for us to reduce the impact of human driven climate change. That is not going to be an easy read but I hope you will take the time to look into it. A lot of sacrifices and selflessness is going to be needed to get the job done. There are signs of hope if you look hard enough. We as a species are going to need to band together to fix the problems we created and leave a healthy planet for our kids and theirs. 

I'll update this post with the link to the second part when it's out!

Thanks for reading!

Andrew.

Further Reading (And My Sources)

https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data

https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/syr/

https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/world-of-change/DecadalTemp

https://www.ucsusa.org/climate/impacts

https://davidsuzuki.org/queen-of-green/food-climate-change/

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