Critical Analysis of the Climate Crisis. The Effects of Global Warming

A Short Overview


Term Paper, 2019

31 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Excerpt

Table of Contents

Index of Figures

Index of Abbreviations

1 Introduction and structure of the paper

2 Theoretical background

3 The effects
3.1 Ecological effects
3.2 Economic effects
3.3 Social effects

4 Critical Analysis of climate policy
4.1 The Kyoto Protocol
4.2 The Paris Climate Agreement

5 Recommended actions
5.1 Politics
5.2 Consumers

6 Conclusion

Bibliography

Index of Figures

Figure 1: The greenhouse effect

Figure 2: Annual total CO2 Emissions by world region

Figure 3: How climate change impacts our health

Figure 4: Total climatic dislocations from 2008 to 2016

Figure 5: Kyoto Protocol Carbon Emissions from 1990 to 2012

Figure 6: Kyoto Protocol Carbon Emissions by Parties from 1990 to 2012

Figure 7: Global Greenhouse Gases by regions

Figure 8: Increase of global temperature by 2100

Figure 9: Climate Action Tracker

Figure 10: Greenhouse emissions from food

Figure 11: Carbon footprint of foods

Index of Abbreviations

CO2 Carbon dioxide

CH4 Methane

N2O Nitrous oxide

1 Introduction and Structure of the Paper

Polar caps are melting, forests are burning, sea levels are rising – and politics continue to talk about “money and fairytales of eternal economic growth”.1

There is no doubt that at some point this crisis will affect all citizens on planet earth. People in many countries, mostly third-world ones, are already facing the effects the climate change has on their habitat. The frequency of recorded natural disasters such as droughts, floods, tsunamis and earthquakes has soared from almost none in 1900 to close to 400 a year in 2015.2

Current development shows that many people are concerned about the governments of this world doing too little against climate change. Millions of people are on the streets, demonstrating for a future that is worth living.3 Movements like Fridays for Future demonstrate their displeasure against the measures the leaders of this world have taken until now.

But is what the authorities are currently doing enough? What do both politicians and citizens need to do to ensure that our planet is sustained for the following generations? This paper’s goal is to discuss these questions.

This essay aims to first provide a theoretical basis to the reader, explaining the elemental scientific consent about climate change. In the following, the effects of global warming on the environment, the economy and on us citizens will be outlined.

As mentioned above, the main part of this term paper is the presentation of the effects global warming has on various sectors, and the analysis of the current climate policy. It is built on this analysis by identifying approaches that not only politics but also, we as consumers can take to limit the effects our lives have of the earth’s environment and climate. The last step is to draw a conclusion and present an outlook.

2 Theoretical Background

As a basis for this paper, it is necessary to understand the theoretical basis to global warming. In fact, climate change has been present as an issue since the year 1979. In this year, the US National Academy of Sciences already addressed global warming as a serious concern. Since then, an extensive amount of data has been collected – the key word ‘climate’ appears in over 10,000 scholarly pieces a year.4

The most important finding that all those publications can agree upon is the fact that industrialization and human activities are the main driving force to rising temperatures. Greenhouse gases, such as CO2, CH4 and N2O have risen to an enormous extend – and this implies global warming.5

Whereas environmental problems used to be local issues before, they are now global concerns and are a threat to the existence of humanity.6

A term that is commonly connected to climate change is the greenhouse effect. The following illustration serves as an explanation to the process.

Figure 1: The greenhouse effect

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source: https://wg1.ipcc.ch/publications/wg1-ar4/faq/wg1_faq-1.3.html, accessed 24/10/2019

Simplified, the greenhouse effect is the process of gases being emitted into the earths atmosphere by human activity, leading to solar radiation being trapped inside of it. The result of this is the warming of the climate. Carbon dioxide is the gas with the highest influence on climate change. All other greenhouse gases have contributed about two thirds of all substances, whereas carbon dioxide alone is responsible for one third of worldwide emissions.7

Even though these dangers have been known since the seventies, humanity proceeds to emit more and more CO2. The following image displays the annual CO2 emissions since 1750.

Figure 2: Annual total CO2 Emissions by world region

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source: https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/annual-co-emissions-by-region, accessed 10/24/2019

This figure depicts the tremendous amount of CO2 that is emitted to the earth’s atmosphere every year and, most of all, the vast increase the emissions have undergone since 1900. In 1900 the annual total CO2 emissions amounted to under five billion tons a year. This number has risen to over 35 billion tons in 2017 and continues to rise. One can note that China and the USA are the biggest contributors concerning carbon dioxide.8 Additionally, there is no doubt that developed countries have more emissions that undeveloped ones. This can be connected to the fact that CO2 is mostly given off into the atmosphere when burning fossil fuels.9 This process requires technologies as well as scientific knowledge and the ability to extract resources such as coal from the ground. Most of the nations that are not as well developed as for example the United States neither have access to these essential machineries nor have the scientific expertise it requires.

Ozone is another greenhouse gas not being produced directly by human activity, but one that is a result of “interactions in the atmosphere with substances that are emitted by humans”.10 The environmental effects of ozone are that it harms “sensitive vegetation during the growing season”11, threatening ecosystems such as forests and wilderness areas. But not only does it affect our ecosystems, but also us as humans. Breathing ground ozone can bring about a lot of health problems such as “chest pain, throat irritation and airway inflammation”.12 Additionally, these molecules stay inside the atmosphere for hundreds of years and are not easy to dissolve.13

One can conclude that there are various effects human activities on earth, such as agriculture, transport and burning of fossil fuels have on the climate. There is no doubt that human action is the main contributor to climate change.

3 The effects

The effects of climate change on the world are various and multitudinous. They affect many sectors of life – those to our environment itself, our economy and our social life will be displayed in the following.

3.1 Ecological effects

As already mentioned in previous chapters, there are diverse effects on our ecosystems. The first one to name are the results of melting ice caps due to rising temperatures. Half of the sea level rise over the last 25 years can be traced back to thermal expansion, which describes the process of water expansion due to higher temperatures. The other half is attributable to melting glaciers.14

Since sea ice is melting by about 14% each decade,15 the habitat of numerous species such as the polar bear and penguins is endangered. In some areas of the earth, such as the Beauford See in Alaska and in the north-western region of Canada, the polar bear population has undergone a rapid fall of 40%. They are highly endangered, and the worldwide population is estimated to shrink from 26,000 in 2016 to about 9,000 within the years 2051 to 2057.16

Specialist and marginalized species will be affected the hardest due to their lack of ability to adapt to new climatic conditions.17 Coral reefs for example, which are very sensitive to temperature shifts, will decline by 70-90% if we are able to keep rising temperatures under 1.5 degrees, or by 90% if temperatures rise by 2 degrees.18

The melting ice caps do not only take away the habitat of many animal populations, but also increase the general amount of water in the oceans which leads to the sea level rise. Sea level rise will cause land loss, habitat of both humans and animals will disappear.19 Furthermore, higher sea levels can cause the contamination of agricultural soil with salt – which makes it unusable for crops to grow on those areas.20

All in all, only a few effects have been presented. Once our climate has risen by 1.5 or even 2 degrees a year, it is impossible to control the irreversible effects climate change will have on our ecosystems and thus, on our daily lives.

3.2 Economic effects

The economic impact of climate change has various facets. The first point to consider are the financial impacts on agriculture. In Germany alone, each year there is an estimated agricultural damage of half a billion euros. 50% of this number is assumed to be produced by drought. Another 25% can be traced back to volley.21 The estimated losses from extreme climatic conditions amount to over 100 billion dollars worldwide in 2016.22

Another important aspect to consider is tourism, which is an economic sector that will be heavily impacted by climate change. Climate and tourism are closely interconnected since weather determines “length and quality of tourism seasons” and has a big influence on the “destination choice and tourist spending”.23

Both direct and indirect climatic impacts will influence the decision of tourists to go to a specific region. For example, winter sports or sun-and-sea vacations are heavily dependent on weather.24 Since the IPCC predicts that there will be a higher temperature and more hot days in all parts of the world, regions that are already having high temperatures nowadays are more likely to be less attractive to tourists (e.g. the Mediterranean region), whereas areas like southern England will become more attractive due to rising temperatures.25

Another direct effect to consider is again, rising sea levels. In the year 2050, an estimated amount of over 570 coastal cities will be endangered by floods. Many of those coastal regions happen to be touristic regions – which then will be completely unavailable to tourism and livelihood.26

Indirect climatic effects refer to consequences such as less water availability in certain regions, as well as biodiversity loss and “reduced landscape aesthetic”27 which again, will influence the decision tourists take.

All in all, one can say that the impacts of climate change on tourism will be noticeable all over the world and have a major financial impact. To conclude, one can sum up that climate change not only has a great impact on weather and our ecologic systems on planet earth, but will also create economic losses. Climate change in the last three years created global losses amounting to almost one trillion US dollars.28

3.3 Social effects

All effects that have been mentioned up to this point of the paper will affect all inhabitants on planet earth. Nevertheless, there are some consequences that can be connected directly to the social aspect of life.

The first point to consider is that climate change has a great impact on health.

Figure 3: How climate change impacts our health

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source: Own diagram, following https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/WGIIAR5-Chap11_FINAL.pdf, p. 8, accessed 11/04/2019

There are both direct and indirect effects of climate change that are depicted in the illustration above. Direct impacts are for example the damage that is produced by floods and storms. People lose their livelihoods and there is a high possibility of drowning if there are no public structures such as warning systems.29

Another direct exposure to new weather conditions are heat stresses. There is a high interconnection between hot days and the mortality rate. Especially elderly people and chronically ill persons do not have the ability to adapt to new climatic conditions fast and thus are affected by the consequences.30

Indirect consequences can be generally described as the increase of health risks. Whether it is the shifting of the distribution area of mosquitos leading to the higher infection of illnesses such as malaria, or the general increase of pathogenic germs in the air due to higher temperatures – both represent a higher health risk to us citizens.31

Another point to consider is climate migration. In the period from 2008 to 2016 227.6 million people had to be displaced due to climatic reasons through either forced migration after the event of an earthquake or a flooding, or voluntary migration due to climatic conditions in general. This is depicted in the following chart.32

Figure 4: Total climatic dislocations from 2008 to 2016

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Source: http://www.internal-displacement.org/global-report/grid2017/, accessed 11/14/2019

The red line displays the average number of people being displaced a year, which is 25.3 million people. These numbers represent the extreme social impact climate change has on societies. The people being forced to leave their homes need to be incorporated into another country.

The wave of refugees entering Germany, starting in roughly 2015, showed how much controversy and bureaucratic effort it creates if just over a million people enter a country.33

In conclusion one can say, political agreements must be created on how climate change can be prevented, to circumvent that habitats of many people being destroyed – and how climatic refugees can be distributed between the countries if it will become necessary.

[...]


1 Cf. https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Environment/How-dare-you-Transcript-of-Greta-Thunberg-s-UN-climate-speech, accessed 10/10/2019.

2 Cf. https://ourworldindata.org/natural-disasters, accessed 10/10/2019.

3 Cf. https://www.morgenpost.de/politik/article227118067/Klimastreik-am-29-November-Die-wichtigsten-Infos-zur-globalen-Umwelt-Demo.html, accessed 12/12/2019.

4 Cf. Archer, D., Rahmstorf, S., The climate crisis, 2011, Preface.

5 Cf. Tol, R. S. J., Climate economics, 2014, p. 3.

6 Cf. Frey, R. L., Mit Ökonomie zur Ökologie, 1993, p. 6.

7 Cf. Tol, R. S. J., Climate economics, 2014, p. 7.

8 Cf. https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/each-countrys-share-co2-emissions, accessed 10/24/2019.

9 Cf. http://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/co2-emissions-by-country /, accessed 10/24/2019.

10 Tol, R. S. J., Climate economics, 2014, p. 7.

11 https://www.epa.gov/ground-level-ozone-pollution/ground-level-ozone-basics, accessed 10/25/2019.

12 https://www.epa.gov/ground-level-ozone-pollution/ground-level-ozone-basics, accessed 10/25/2019.

13 Cf. Randers, J.et al., Ein Prozent ist genug, 2016, p. 128.

14 Cf. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/sea-level-rise /, accessed 11/04/2019.

15 Cf. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2018/02/polar-bears-starve-melting-sea-ice-global-warming-study-beaufort-sea-environment/, accessed 10/25/2019.

16 Cf. https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/784579/umfrage/bestand-von-eisbaeren-weltweit/, accessed 10/25/2019.

17 Cf. Tol, R. S. J., Climate economics, 2014, p. 73.

18 Cf. https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/sites/2/2019/05/SR15_SPM_version_report_LR.pdf, p.8, accessed 10/25/2019.

19 Cf. Tol, R. S. J., Climate economics, 2014, p. 74.

20 Cf. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/sea-level-rise/, accessed 11/04/2019.

21 Cf. https://de.statista.com/infografik/14926/schadenaufwand-durch-wetterextreme/, accessed 11/04/2019.

22 Cf. https://de.statista.com/infografik/11700/extreme-wetterereignisse-und-wirtschaftliche-schaeden-weltweit/, accessed 11/04/2019.

23 Cf. Climate change and tourism, 2008, p. 28.

24 Cf. Climate change and tourism, 2008, p. 28.

25 Cf. Climate change and tourism, 2008, p. 28.

26 Cf. https://www.c40.org/other/the-future-we-don-t-want-staying-afloat-the-urban-response-to-sea-level-rise, accessed 11/04/2019.

27 Cf. Climate change and tourism, 2008, p. 28.

28 Cf. https://www.statista.com/statistics/818411/weather-catastrophes-causing-economic-losses-globally/, accessed 11/04/2019.

29 Cf. https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/WGIIAR5-Chap11_FINAL.pdf, p. 718, accessed 11/04/2019.

30 Cf. https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/WGIIAR5-Chap11_FINAL.pdf, p. 720, accessed 11/04/2019.

31 Cf. Wöhlcke, M., Umweltzerstörung in der Dritten Welt, 1987, p. 74.

32 Cf. https://migrationdataportal.org/themes/environmental_migration, accessed 11/14/2019.

33 Cf. https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/663735/umfrage/jaehrlich-neu-registrierte-fluechtlinge-in-deutschland/, accessed 11/14/2019.

Excerpt out of 31 pages

Details

Title
Critical Analysis of the Climate Crisis. The Effects of Global Warming
Subtitle
A Short Overview
College
University of Applied Sciences Essen
Grade
1,3
Author
Year
2019
Pages
31
Catalog Number
V960107
ISBN (eBook)
9783346302762
ISBN (Book)
9783346302779
Language
English
Tags
Climate Crisis, Klimawandel, Analyse
Quote paper
Melina Helga Richter (Author), 2019, Critical Analysis of the Climate Crisis. The Effects of Global Warming, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/960107

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