Climate Control the Great Debate

climate
Courtesy of Janak Bhatta (Wikimedia CC0)

The climate change debate is a hot topic right now. People have been arguing about it for centuries and may never come to an agreement. Some people don’t believe that climate change exists while others think that we should be very concerned about this issue. The purpose of this article is to present the arguments on both sides so that everyone can make up their own mind and decide whether or not they believe in global warming.

There are two sides to the climate change debate: those who believe it is happening and those who do not. For years, some people have believed that there is no such thing as climate change. They argue that the rising temperatures on Earth are part of a natural cycle and nothing more. This argument also contends that human activity plays no role in these rising temperatures, but modern research has revealed otherwise.

As early as 1896, Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius predicted that carbon dioxide emissions would cause global warming due to their contribution to increased atmospheric heat absorption known as the greenhouse effect. Over 100 years later, scientists confirmed this prediction through extensive research into the Earth’s temperature profile over time periods ranging from decades to millennia. It turns out humans have been contributing significantly more greenhouse gases than ever before since industrialization began in earnest during the 19th century.

One may have heard that the climate is changing, but what does that mean?

Climate refers to weather patterns over long periods of time. Weather is what people experience on a day-to-day basis—temperature, humidity, rainfall, and so on.

There are many factors that influence the climate in any given place at any given time: distance from the equator (which determines how much solar radiation hits Earth), proximity to oceans or mountains (which affect air circulation), altitude (which influences air pressure), and more. These can cause major variations in temperature and precipitation in different regions across the globe.

People should not be surprised if a climate change denier says that there have been ice ages, so therefore climate change is a hoax. This is true but ignores the fact that Earth is currently in a warming period. There has been global warming since people started keeping records and it is accelerating rapidly as humans continue to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

It’s important to remember the difference between weather and climate. Weather is what’s happening right now, whereas climate refers to how the weather patterns change over a long period of time. When we talk about climate change, we’re not just talking about whether it’s warm or cold outside today; we’re talking about changes in average temperatures that affect things like agriculture and sea levels over many years or decades.

To illustrate this point, let’s compare these two terms using examples from everyday life:

  • Weather is what you wear — the climate is what you expect.
  • Weather is what’s happening outside — the climate is what’s happening inside.
climate
Courtesy of Andrew Dallos (Flickr CC0)

Weather is the short-term state of the atmosphere and climate is the long-term average of weather patterns. Climate determines what the weather will be like in any given place.

The sun shines on Earth in a continuous cycle, warming some parts while cooling others — a process called insolation. In places where there are great differences in temperature from one season to another, this difference causes air masses to move around. These moving air masses carry moisture with them and produce clouds when they encounter mountains or other barriers that rise above their level of free convection (rising).

Clouds act as a blanket for the planet reflecting incoming solar radiation back into space before it can reach Earth’s surface. However, they also absorb infrared radiation emitted from Earth’s surface back up into space at night when temperatures are low enough for water vapor to condense onto tiny particles suspended within clouds high enough above our planet’s surface where temperatures fall below freezing but not so far away that air pressure drops too low for cloud formation.

Many people argue that climate doesn’t change, so therefore society doesn’t need to worry about the pollution. But the facts show otherwise:

  • Climate change is real and happening now. It’s been an ongoing process for millions of years, but in the past century, it has accelerated.
  • Pollution is a major cause of climate change. It affects everyone on this planet and it’s getting worse every year as more factories are built and more CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere at an alarming rate.
  • The effects of pollution aren’t confined just to those who live near factories — they’re felt everywhere on our planet!

There has been a rapid change in our climate within the last century alone. The rate of warming over previous centuries was much slower than it has been in recent decades. This points toward human activity as being one of many causes of this rapid warming trend. Scientists believe that since the 1850s, humans have increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations by about 40% from 280 ppmv (parts per million by volume) to 400 ppmv today.

The great debate on climate change is that humans are continuing to cause deforestation, overfishing, pollution, and industrialization. These actions are causing the loss of biodiversity, extinction of fish species, and toxic chemicals in our water supply.

The main reason why people are causing these issues is due to their lifestyle choices such as eating meat or driving an automobile. As a result of this lifestyle choice, it produces greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide which is released into the atmosphere causing global warming.

As a species, we are responsible for climate change and its effects on the planet. While people do not have control over the weather patterns, individuals can certainly take steps to mitigate and reverse the damage that has been done by polluting our air and water. Though many people have taken action against climate change by recycling their trash or using more fuel-efficient cars, there is still a lot of work to be done in order to reverse this crisis.

People need to look at themselves individually before looking at others when it comes to taking action against climate change. Everyone has some sort of impact on the Earth’s resources — whether it be plastic waste or air pollution — and if people all make efforts in their own lives then together people will see great results!

Everyone has to be careful of what they do and how they are affecting the earth. People need to stop polluting and start taking care of their planet or else it may not be able to sustain life as everyone knows it today. The climate change debate has been going on for years now but hopefully someday soon someone will find a solution that works for everyone.

Written by Sheena Robertson

Sources:

Conservation: CLIMATE CHANGE: 11 FACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW
NASA: Understanding our planet to benefit humankind

Top and Featured Image by Janak Bhatta Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Andrew Dallos’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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