CLIMATE CHANGE
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CLIMATE CHANGE:
The Problem
Effects to Date
Future Effects
Late Already?
Thresholds
Is it Our Fault?
Our Responsibility
Scepticism


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The Problem
 

The majority of climate researchers believe that the main cause of the rapidly changing climate, especially since 1975, is our fossil fuel-burning activities, which increase the amount of carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases” in the atmosphere – these act like a giant blanket causing global warming.

 

Although burning of coal, oil and gas is the main contributor, other causes of greenhouse gas emissions include: deforestation, decaying material in landfill sites, cement and pesticide manufacture, growth of farm animals, rice production in wet conditions. The rapidly increasing world population adds to the scale of all these things.

 

Since pre-industrial times, we have added around one-third more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and doubled the methane, plus nitrous oxide and a range of industrial gases. These emissions are nowadays accurately measured (e.g. 26% more atmospheric CO2 since 1958) and are rapidly increasing.

 

The warming is believed to put more energy into the climate systems and to result in an increase in the severity and frequency of extreme weather events: floods, droughts, storms, wildfires and extreme temperatures; giving rise to growing hunger, homelessness, disease, injury, loss of life and livelihood.

 

Although there is no hard proof that our emissions are the major cause of climate change (and may never be), the frequent record-breaking temperatures, and regularity of severe flooding, droughts and wildfires in different countries fit the expected trend of more weather extremes.

 

The main risk is that, as global warming increases (irreversibly), the point will be reached where the world climate could de-stabilise, causing a rapid uncontrollable acceleration -  "runaway warming" with catastrophic spiralling effects.

 

Drought in Assam 2004
Forest fire
Stranded in Mozambique flood