Table of Contents
2. Causes of the Climate Change
3. Consequences of the Climate Change
4. The Climate Protection
4.1. Measures to Combat the Climate Change
4.2. International Climate Agreements, Targets and Problems
In the following thesis, I will thoroughly analyse the climate change considering all aspects, such as the causes, the consequences and the measures of it. The question, whether the climate has actually changed in comparison to all previous centuries and whether its whole process also happens naturally, therefore by itself or is influenced by humans, has been preoccupying the experts for a while.
"The term 'climate change' or 'anthropogenic climate change' primarily refers to the current human-induced change in global and regional climate. In general, climate change includes long-term changes in the climate, whether due to natural or anthropogenic causes" (qtd. it trans. https://d-nb.info/103111162X/34: Birkmann, Jörn; Böhm, Hans Reiner; Buchholz, Frank: "Glossar - Klimawandel und Raumentwicklung". Nr. 10. Hannover 2013. pp. 15-16 from April 2, 2018).
Basically, the change in climate is measured by the global average surface temperature. It is subject to constant change with many fluctuations, whereupon various conclusions can be drawn. Nonetheless, it is a well-known fact that our planet is becoming increasingly warm globally, hence catastrophic proportions, in the form of frequent occurrences of extreme events e.g. droughts, floods, forest fires and storms, can be expected (cf. https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/indikator-globale-lufttemperatur#textpart-1 from April 2, 18).
As a result, the climate change must be largely anthropogenic, for example due to the widespread carbon dioxide emissions from industrialized countries, like China and the United States of America. Millions of people, especially those who live in developing countries such as Africa, are vulnerable to climatic changes and disasters because they lack the economic and financial resources to increase the coping and adaptation capacities. Thus, humankind faces serious challenges in the 21st century that only can have genuine impact on climate protection on condition that all countries join forces. Some international agreements on climate action have been drafted already, but there are still implementation difficulties to keep the 2 degrees Celsius limit. The only way for a climate-friendly created world to work is an immediate and joint action including many different concepts to take place (cf. Zoellick, Robert B.: Foreword. In: Bierbaum, Rosina M.; Fay, Marianne; Ross-Larson, Bruce: World Development Report 2010: Development and Climate Change. Washington, D.C. 2009. pp. xiii- xiv.).
2. Causes of the Climate Change
It is clear now that the climate change exists and that is progressing at full speed. Now, let us turn our attention to the causes of climate change. Scientifically and historically speaking, the global climate has changed permanently over many billions of years in the past, as it is a subject to natural fluctuations. On the one hand, there is the natural greenhouse effect, but on the other hand, there is the anthropogenic greenhouse effect.
The former effect is vital for life on earth because short-wave solar rays hit the earth's surface and eventually heat it up. Subsequently, the short-wave solar rays are converted into long-wave heat rays, which then leave the earth in the direction of space.
However due to climate-effective gases, such as water vapor, methane, carbon dioxide, etc., on the upper layers of the earth's atmosphere, one part of the heat radiation gets reflected back into the earth's surface, while another part of the heat radiation gets passed through. Therefore, there must be an equilibrium between absorption and reflection of heat rays, which is produced by the climate-effective gases. These gases hold onto a part of the heat rays in the atmosphere because they act like a 'semipermeable protective cover'.
In this way, the climate-effective gases ensure that on earth, instead of a global average temperature of just minus 18 degrees Celsius, a global average temperature of plus 15 degrees Celsius can prevail (cf. http://www.initiative-hofer.de/Treibhauseffekt.178.0.html from April 2, 18).
However, the actual climate change can be explained by the anthropogenic greenhouse effect, which was originally caused by humans. Since the middle of the 19th century, to be more specific, since launch of the industrial revolution, the climate has changed enormously fast and more precisely in the negative direction. People yearned for progress, but the key ecological aspect, namely our earth, was completely ignored. Because of the rise of standards of living, particularly in the industrialized countries, such as Western Europe, the United States of America or Asia, it requires large amounts of carbon dioxide, which rises up into upper layers of the atmosphere when fossil fuels, such as petroleum, natural gas and coal, are burned. In this case, you talk about an industrial "hunger for energy" (qtd. it trans. https://www.greenpeace.de/themen/klimawandel/verursacht-der-mensch-die-erderwarmung: k.A.: "Verursacht der Mensch die Erderwärmung?" from April 2, 2018), which is because of people being almost completely reliant on automated technology, cars and electronic devices (cf. https://www.greenpeace.de/themen/klimawandel/verursacht-der-mensch-die-erderwarmung from April 2, 2018).
Worldwide, around 200 million tons of carbon dioxide were emitted at the beginning of the industrial revolution around 1850. Though, about 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide were laid off in 2005, which correspond to a multiplication of 150 times (cf. Appendix, Illustr. 1).
In addition to that, apart from carbon dioxide (produced by power plants, wood combustion, traffic, etc.), other climate-damaging gases exist, such as methane (produced by stockbreeding), chlorofluorocarbon (produced by coolant, spray cans, etc.), ozone and nitrous oxide (produced by aircrafts) (cf. https://utopia.de/ratgeber/ursachen-des-klimawandels-diese-faktoren-beguenstigen-die-globale-erwaermung/ from April 2, 2018, cf. https://ec.europa.eu/clima/change/causes_de from April 2, 2018, cf. https://www.nabu.de/umwelt-und-ressourcen/klima-und-luft/klimawandel/06738.html, cf. https://www.greenpeace.de/themen/klimawandel/ursachen-des-klimawandels from April 2, 2018 and cf. https://www.umweltbundesamt.de/themen/klima-energie/klimaschutz-energiepolitik-in-deutschland/treibhausgas-emissionen/emissionsquellen#textpart-2 from April 2, 2018).
By 60 per cent, carbon dioxide is the most long-lived and abundant greenhouse gas. Of course, the atmosphere contains this certain gas, but people provide a significant surplus of it. By contrast, with a total of twelve per cent, chlorofluorocarbon has a lifespan of 400 years, which is why it has been banned in industrialized countries since the end of the 20th century (cf. https://www.schullv.de/geo/basiswissen/klimawandel/anthropogener_treibhauseffekt from April 2, 18). Furthermore, the meat consumption is rising because of the constantly growing world population, which consequently strongly favors animal breeding and thus also the mass animal husbandry with high methane emissions of 15 per cent compared to the other emission of anthropogenic substances. Methane is a little less dangerous because it already decomposes after only 12 years. On the other hand, nitrous oxide and ozone act a slightly less important part with a total of five per cent and eight per cent in emissions, but nevertheless, they must be taken into account (cf. Appendix, Illustr. 2).
Due to the fact that to the natural climate-friendly substances, a very high concentration of climate-damaging substances, will be added by emissions, the 'protective cover' will get compacted in the upper layers of the Earth's atmosphere, the tropopause. Thereby, the balanced system gets out of hand and catastrophic and almost irreversible global consequences threaten. Instead of allowing some of the ground-reflected, long-wave heat rays into the cosmos and letting the other part to reflect on the climate-friendly gases, it only gets absorbed by the climate-damaging gases. These heat rays are barely capable of escaping and in fact, are trapped in a perpetual vicious cycle of constant back-reflection between the Earth's surface and the tropopause, which causes a devastating and continuous global warming (cf. http://www.initiative-hofer.de/Treibhauseffekt.178.0.html from April 2, 2018).
- Quote paper
- Anonymous, 2018, The Climate Change, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1147023