The biggest global challenge

The task is great but essential

Climate change is perhaps the biggest global challenge we face nowadays, an issue that has left no region or country untouched. This is an additional factor that makes climate change such a puzzling issue with prospective impacts on the environment, world economies and societies. An overview will be useful of the effects, causes, and possible prevention plans of climate change where social change is deemed crucial.

The key factor that has been attributed to the current climate change is the elevation in the concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the Earth’s atmosphere. The greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide (CO₂), methane (CH₄), and nitrous oxide (N₂O) which lead to the heat trap from energy of sun. People have contributed plateaus to these gases, especially after the industrial revolution, through thermal activities.

Emission of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere through use of fossil energy and as a fuel for vehicles is from burning of coal, oil and natural gas. Main sources of emissions are power plants, automobiles, airplanes, and industries where emissions are produced in large quantities as CO₂.

Evergreen forests help in the absorption of carbon in the atmosphere through photosynthesis. However, large-scale deforestation for agriculture, logging and urban development degrades this capacity and, subsequently, the ability of the earth to store CO₂ from the atmosphere decreases when this gas is released through processes such as decomposition of plant material. Soil management and use of fertilizer are some of the factors that influence the release of greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide. Meanwhile, livestock give out methane during digestion, and synthetic fertilizers emit nitrous oxide in the air.

Improvements are needed in some industries like cement industries and chemical industries that display high emission of GHGs. Further, various industries emit chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other gases that have a long life cycle, such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

Climate change impacts are detected and the observation indicates that they will become worse in the future. These effects are varied, encompassing outcomes in ecosystems, human well-being, and finance. The average planetary temperature has increased to what is estimated to be about 1°C. The globe has warmed by 1.96°C since the pre-industrial period which is causing more heatwaves. This warming trend impacts ecosystems, exposes people in habitation via increased vulnerability to heat, related illnesses, and deaths.

There are effects such as hurricanes, floods, droughts and even wildfires which are related to climate change, since their occurrence is a result of an increase in the intensity of extreme weather. These events lead to the destruction of infrastructure and displacement of major populations, hence exposing individuals to the risk of being killed.

Oscillations in global temperatures, especially increased temperatures, lead to the melting of polar ice caps as well as glaciers and the rise in the temperature of sea water, all of which cause sea levels to rise. This poses challenges to coastal cities and small island nations and fosters enhanced flooding, shoreline eroding, and intrusion of saltwater into freshwater systems. Species lost the ability to respond swiftly to alterations in climate; this has led to new patterns of the geographical distribution of species, changes in migratory habits, and higher death rates among species. For instance, coral reefs are very sensitive to temperature fluctuations and are seen to be evenly experiencing bleaching. Climate change is a major factor leading to deterioration of health standards through negative impacts such as; poor quality air, spread of diseases, lack of adequate provisions of food and water. Global warming further threatens the increase in the spread of infectious diseases such as malaria and dengue fever as the temperatures rise.

It is the biggest threat regardless of the economic implications of climate change. Among the various challenges, impacts on infrastructure, reduced efficiency of the workforce, and higher healthcare expenses affect countries’ economies fundamentally. Population, agricultural and food securities are especially affected due to reduced crop production resulting from changes in the climatic conditions and harsh weathers.

Reduction and prevention is the general approach used in mitigation as it is focused on decreasing emissions of GHG. It is important for countries to move from the use of fossil fuels to the use of renewable energy and sources and these include solar energy, wind power, and hydroelectric power. These technologies emit low or no GHG emissions and have improved on the cost aspect through the learning curve.

Climate change is the one issue that has defined this century and needs to be addressed with a lot of seriousness and vim. We are only at the beginning of our journey in dealing with this problem; however, tools that could help us combat this issue exist. Minimizing further emissions of GHG on the one hand, preparing for the changes that cannot be avoided on the other, and involving the global community in the climate change process on the third, will help minimize the negative consequences of climate change and create the basis for a sustainable future. 

Heat conservation is key, but many also focus on improving efficiency of lights, machines, and vehicles in buildings, vehicles, and factories. This includes efficient energy conservation through better insulated structures, efficient appliances in homes, and enhanced fuel conservation through improved vehicles. This paper reveals that afforestation and forest restoration contributes to Carbon Storage. Therefore, efforts to safeguard the areas that are already being occupied by forests from giving way to the process of deforestation are equally as relevant. Supporting institutions can use carbon pricing mechanisms like carbon taxes or cap-and-trade systems that would incentivize the controlling of carbon emissions. These policies support companies to create competitive, new, and efficient methods of production that are also less polluting. New technologies, like CCCs, and next generation nuclear power reactors, can be a part of an effective strategy to reduce emissions.

Adaptation measures which imply changes in sectors and values are the methods intended to minimize the vulnerability of the climate change threats.

It is important to focus on ensuring that infrastructure is appropriate for its environment and can stand up to the worst storms. This includes construction of barriers to floods, enhancing drainage systems as well as constructing structures and other amenities that can withstand extreme heat and stormy weather conditions. It is especially important that actions are taken to develop climate resistant crops and other practices in farming. Water management and the adequate use of water with the utilization of proper soil conservation measures are also imperative.

It must be noted that improving the public health infrastructure to manage climate-related health effects adequately is crucial. This entails the surveillance and management of infections and diseases outbreaks, as well as support during heat waves and other acts of climax. It was found that the adaptation measures like early warning systems and disaster preparedness can minimize effects of climate – related disasters. Participation in education and training in the community is paramount in the disaster risk management processes. Finally, climate change is a global issue which merits international efforts. Emphasis on their efforts is evident in the Paris agreement where nations work hand in hand to limit the effects of climate change and support developing countries. It is important to offer money to these countries because developing countries need help in a lot of ways including offering them

some of their financial needs. Thus, this assists them to adapt to low carbon economies and also prepare themselves for the impacts of climate change.

Climate change is the one issue that has defined this century and needs to be addressed with a lot of seriousness and vim. We are only at the beginning of our journey in dealing with this problem; however, tools that could help us combat this issue exist. Minimizing further emissions of GHG on the one hand, preparing for the changes that cannot be avoided on the other, and involving the global community in the climate change process on the third, will help minimize the negative consequences of climate change and create the basis for a sustainable future. This is a worldwide initiative and all persons, neighbourhood and countries have a part to contribute. About this common issue we should come up and unite, contribute our efforts, and take the responsibility of protecting our home, the earth, for the generations to come.

Uzair Ahmad
Uzair Ahmad
The writer is a freelance columnist

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