Climate Change Explained
What is this crisis that Leonardo Di Caprio has said is "the greatest challenge facing humanity"?
Why is Thom Yorke from Radiohead saying we face a "global emergency".
Climate change is something that connects things you do everyday like charging your phone or turning on a light with famines in Africa and hurricanes in America.
The natural greenhouse effect has been keeping the earth warm for millions of years. Greenhouse gases in the atmostphere trap some of the earth's rays and raise the earth's temperature to a comfortable level.
However, things like cars, planes, agriculture and energy production are all dramatically increasing the amount of greenhouse gases in our atmostphere.
This produces a thick blanket of greenhouse gases in the atmostphere.
This means the greenhouse gases trap to much of the suns rays and the earth heats.
I'm sure you already know the science but we'll go through it again. The atmosphere is made up of a mixture of lots of different kinds of gases. Some have warming effects and some have cooling effects. These gases have helped keep the Earth's temperature steady for the past few million years. The sun's rays heat the Earth. Some of this heat escapes back into space and some of it is trapped by a blanket of greenhouse gases. This used to be just the right amount to keep the Earth at the Goldilocks temperature-"not too hot and not too cold". That was until we started messing stuff up. And we are messing stuff up, by polluting the atmosphere with lots of carbon dioxide and other warming gases. This massive increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere means that too much heat is being trapped in the Earth's atmosphere and the Earth is heating up. This overall heating of the planet has different affects on climate systems around the world. Floods are becoming more frequent in some parts of the world and droughts are happening more often in other parts. In general the changes we are causing are increasing the number and frequency of extreme climatic events across the globe.
We will all suffer if runaway climate change is allowed to happen. People in developing countries are being hit now by climate change and if it continues will be hit the hardest. Irish aid countries in Africa are being struck by flood and droughts as a result of climate change. Ethiopia is a country infamous for its famine problems. This problem is being worsened by the fact that they are facing severe droughts almost every two years. The Zambezi river that affects Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique has had terrible flooding in the year 2000 and recently in January of 2008.
The real injustice of the situation is that those who are living with the already catastrophic result of polluting out atmosphere are not the ones who have caused most of the pollution. The majority of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere right now were produced by supposedly developed countries such as England and Ireland. These gases are created directly when we burn fossil fuels in cars and planes. Most electricity that comes into our homes in Ireland comes from the burning of fossil fuels such as peat and coal and gas. People in developed countries use a lot more of this electricity. We also consume more things in general, more toys and make-up and clothes and gadgets. All of these things have to be made in energy hungry factories somewhere and transported to where we buy them.