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Google contributes large sums to climate change denying organisations

Google contributes large sums to climate change denying organizations

As per the online documents released by The Guardian, internet giant Google has made large donations to some of the most influential and powerful groups which are connected to the denial of climate change. A transparency document from Google reveals that the tech giant has contributed to several organizations, think tanks, lobby groups that deny climate change and campaign against laws to stop climate change. However, the exact figure donated to these organizations was not revealed. 

Competitive Enterprise Institute(CEI) is one of the organizations to receive donations from Google. It is a libertarian think tank that questions the alarmism surrounding global warming. It has played a role in many campaigns which doubt the consensus of the scientific community around global warming, downplaying climate change. Besides this, they have also been instrumental in convincing the American President Donald Trump to cancel the Paris agreement. 

Google has also contributed to the Cato Institute, a think tank opposing legislation related to climate change and American Conservative Union, a conservative think tank having several climate change deniers on the board. 

Google has always promoted itself as an environment-friendly company that takes climate change and global warming very seriously. Since 2007, the company has been carbon-neutral and supports several initiatives related to climate change. It has also recently made the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy in history. 

Along with some other organizations, Google has also pledged to support the Paris Agreement abiding by the goals of the climate pact, irrespective of the decision taken by President Trump to cancel the support of the United States from the agreement. 

Responding to the accusations, a spokesperson from Google said that they are not the only major company that contributes to the organisations although disagreeing with them on their policies related to climate change. It has also made clear that collaboration or sponsoring a third-party organization does not mean in any way that it supports their entire agenda, events nor does it advocate the views of its leadership or members. Google sponsors several organizations across the entire spectrum which advocates for better policies related to technology. 

Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democratic Senator criticized Google’s action as he mentioned that corporate America should not support any trade organization or lobby group that interferes with climate. 

CEI has not answered any questions related to Google as it respects the privacy of donors. A spokesperson of the organization said that the core value of the organization is to make energy accessible to the most vulnerable sections of the society. 

Reference: The Guardian

Increase in global temperatures by 2°C could result in melting of Antarctic ice sheets increasing the sea levels by 20 meters

Increase in global temperatures by 2°C could result in melting of Antarctic ice sheets increasing the sea level by 20 meters

During the Pliocene geological epoch, three million years ago, Earth faced a rise in temperature. The latest research funded by the Marsden Fund involving researchers from the Antarctic Research Centre, Waikato University and other nations has found that one-third of the ice sheet melted in Antarctica during this period causes a rise in current sea level by 20 meters in the centuries to come. 

Past changes in sea level were measured by drilling of cores at the Whanganui Basin in New Zealand. It contains marine sediments of the highest resolution in the entire planet. Then a record of worldwide change in the sea-level was constructed with much more precision than previously estimated.

During the Pliocene period, the concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were more than 400 ppm and the temperature of Earth was two Celsius higher than pre-industrial times. Warming exceeding two celsius might lead to widespread melting in Antarctica dragging the future of the planet back to three million years before. 

Worldwide protests under the hashtag #FridaysForFuture were organized under the leadership of Greta Thunberg as people have realized the urgency to keep the levels of global warming below that of the target of two degrees Celsius set by the Paris Agreement. She criticized the United Nations for not acting on the evidence provided by the scientific community. 

The current rate of worldwide emissions might take us back to the Pliocene period within 2030 thereby passing the target of the Paris Agreement. A pressing question is how fast would the sea levels rise. As per a special report on oceans and cryosphere by  IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) polar ice caps and glaciers are losing mass at an alarming rate, making it difficult to constrain the contribution of Antarctic ice sheets to a future rise in sea level. Following the current trend of emissions, the global sea level is likely to rise by 1.2 meters by the end of the century with an upper limit of two meters. 

In 2015, sediment cores deposited during the Pliocene, preserved under Whanganui Basin were drilled. Timothy Naish, working for 30 years in this area detected more than 50 fluctuations in the worldwide sea level in the last 3.5 million years in the history of the planet. Sea levels changed in response to the climate cycles also known as Milankovitch cycles. These are caused due to long-term changes in the orbit of the Earth every 20,000, 40,000 and 100,000 years. 

Sea levels are estimated to have been varied by several meters but the exact number has been difficult to obtain due to the deformation processes of Earth and the cycles’ incomplete nature. In the research, a theoretical relationship between particle size carried by waves on the continental shelf and the depth till seabed were used. This was then applied to 800 meters of drill core and outcrop that represented sediment sequences spanning a period of 2.5 to 3.3 million years before. 

Fluctuations in the global sea level in the Pliocene were between five to twenty-five meters. This figure is adjusted to the local tectonic land movements and regional changes in the sea level due to gravitational and crustal changes also termed as PlioSeaNZ sea-level record. 

During the Pliocene period, the geography of the continents, oceans, and size of polar ice sheets was similar to the present times, with an ice sheet on Greenland in the warmest times. Melting of this ice sheet would lead from five to 25 meters of the rise in sea level at the Whanganui Basin. 90 percent of heat from global warming has gone to the ocean, mainly to the Southern Ocean on the margins of the ice sheet at Antarctica. 

Deepwater upwelling in addition to entering ice shelf cavities is observed around Antarctica now. The ice sheet is thinning the fastest around the Amundsen Sea of West Antarctica, where maximum ocean heating is observed. One-third of the ice sheet of Antarctica equalling nearly 20 meters of the rise in sea level is situated below the sea level which can collapse from ocean heating. 

Thus if global temperatures are allowed to rise more than two degrees celsius, huge portions of the ice sheet could get melted in the coming times, changing the entire shoreline of the world. 

Iceberg breaks off in Antarctic from unexpected location

Iceberg breaks off in the Antarctic from an unexpected location

Researchers observed a “loose tooth” of ice dangle from the edge of the Antarctic ice sheet for 20 years, waiting to be detached. However, the wrong portion was observed as a nearby sheet of ice along with the same rift system, larger than its wobbling neighbor has broken off the Amery ice board according to the Australian Antarctic Division.

The massive iceberg known as D28 covering 1,636 square kilometers (632 square miles) with a depth of nearly 210 meters deep (689 feet) is approximately the size of urban Sydney. It is the largest iceberg weighing about 315 billion tonnes formed by the Amery ice shelf in more than fifty years.

Helen Fricker, a researcher from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography said that it is the molar compared to a baby tooth. Fricker says that the disintegration of the ice shelf from its edges is a natural phenomenon known as calving. It is to make space for new streams of ice and snow. Each individual ice sheet undergoes a different rate of calving which varies across seasons and takes more than decades to complete since it is an important way to balance masses of ice sheets around the world.

Researchers were unable to predict the location and timeline of calving in this case as all these parameters make it difficult to anticipate from beforehand. Fricker said that they anticipated a huge iceberg would break off between 2010 and 2015 when they first observed a split at the front of the ice board in the early 2000s. The event ultimately occurred after all these years however not at the location predicted by the researchers.

Amery ice shelf produced an iceberg like this covering an area of 9000 square kilometers in 1963. This ice shelf is normally expected to undergo one major calving event every six or seven decades, and so far two have been observed in the cycle. Hence this is not related to the global change of climate, although this is not the situation always.

For example, instead of every six years, the calving rate of Pine Glacier situated in Western Antarctica has accelerated, spreading deeper and shedding huge icebergs in 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2018 which is clearly not as per its normal timeline.

Sue Cook from the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) said that she expects the calving rate to increase because of climate change. She explained that icebergs will start becoming thinner as waters around Antarctica warm-up making them more vulnerable to breaking up.

Research shows that, Future climate could get worse

Research shows that Future climate could get worse

Researchers at Michigan University and the University of Arizona used a futuristic climate model to successfully invent, the Early Eocene Period’s extreme warming, which is considered to be directly related to the future climate of Earth.

They discovered that the warming rate improved dramatically as the concentrations of carbon dioxide rose, a finding with far-reaching consequences for the future climate of Earth. The scientists reported this in a document published in the  Science Advances paper on September 18. Another observation is that the climate of the Early Eocene converted to be more sensitive to additional carbon dioxide as the planet warmed.

“We were surprised that the climate sensitivity increased as much as it did with increasing carbon dioxide levels,” said author Jiang Zhu. He is a postdoctoral researcher at the U-M Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

climate change

Image credit: National climatic data center

“It is a scary observation because it indicates that the temperature response to an increase in carbon dioxide in the future might be larger than the response to the same increase in CO2 now. This is not good news for us.”

The researchers determined that the substantial increase in climate sensitivity had not been seen in previous attempts to simulate the Early Eocene using similar amounts of carbon dioxide. It is likely due to an improved representation of cloud processes in the climate model they used, the Community Earth System Model version 1.2, or CESM1.2.

The findings of the model, which align with geological proof, indicate that if carbon dioxide levels rise in the atmosphere, extra CO2 increases will have an even more significant climate effect than they would have. This does not mean well for the future of our climate.

Global warming is expected to change the distribution and types of clouds in the Earth’s atmosphere, and clouds can have both warming and cooling effects on the climate. In their simulations of the Early Eocene, researchers found a reduction in cloud coverage and opacity that amplified CO2-induced warming.

The same cloud processes responsible for increased climate sensitivity in the Eocene simulations are active today, according to the researchers.

“Our findings highlight the role of small-scale cloud processes in determining large-scale climate changes and suggest an inherent increase in climate sensitivity with future warming,” said U-M paleoclimate researcher Christopher Poulsen, a co-author of the Science Advances paper.

The Early Eocene, which was roughly 48 million to 56 million years ago, was the warmest period of the past 66 million years. It began with the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, which is known as the PETM, the most severe of several short, intensely warm events.

If we don’t restrict greenhouse-gas emissions by the completion of this century, it’s predicted that the concentration of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere could reach 1,000 parts per million and that’s the same as the level as the early Eocene.

We remain at 415 parts per million which is the highest level ever in human history.

The Eocene Era isn’t the only one in Earth’s history that’s crucial to study to anticipate future climate change better, though. Research published last year suggests that climates like the one during the Pliocene era will become the norm as soon as 2030.

Journal Reference: Science Advances

Climate change ‘disrupts’ local plant diversity, study reveals

Climate change ‘disrupts’ local plant diversity, study reveals

Researchers have discovered that the numbers of plant species recorded by botanists have increased in locations where the climate has changed most rapidly, and especially in relatively cold parts of the world.

Human activity has been responsible for substantial declines in biodiversity at the global level, to such an extent that there are calls to describe the modern epoch as ‘The Anthropocene’.

But although the total number of plant species on the planet may be in decline, the average number of plant species found locally – the so-called local or alpha diversity of a site – seems to be stable, or even increasing in places.

Scientists at the University of York think that the ‘disruption’ of these local plant communities by rapid climate change, especially changes in rainfall, may be allowing new species in and fuelling these local diversity increases.

Substantial implications

Lead author, Dr Andrew Suggitt from the University of York’s Department of Biology, said: “We used a large dataset of over 200 studies in which botanists had counted the number of plant species present in survey plots situated all around the world.

“We tested for the influence of climate change alongside other well-known drivers of diversity change, finding that the local differences in climate, and exposure to climate change, were responsible for a substantial part of the change in plant species numbers found in these surveys”.

“Our models suggest that typical rates of climate change in cooler regions of the world are driving an increase in local species richness of 5% per decade. This is really quite a large number if it continues for 13 decades or more, given that humans have already been changing the climate for over half a century, and climate change is set to continue until the year 2100, at least. What we are observing has substantial implications for future ecosystems”.

Pervasive effect

Co-author Professor Chris Thomas added:  “This does not mean that the botanical world gets a clean bill of health. We are living in ‘The Anthropocene’ epoch, and some plant species have become globally extinct.  Many, many more are endangered.

“However, there is a disconnect between what is happening at that global level and the average change to plant diversity that can be observed in, say, a one metre square plot of ground.

“The effect of climate change may not be as dramatic as a meadow being turned into a car park, or a forest being cut down, but it’s a pervasive effect that is already evident over vast areas of the Earth’s land surface.

“For example, warmth-loving bee orchids (Ophrys apifera) have started arriving at a much wider variety of sites across the north of England, taking advantage of the changing climate.

“The data we have analysed tells us that colonists are tending to arrive faster than incumbents disappear, giving rise to slight increases in plant diversity in places where the climate is changing the most”.

Shuffling the deck

Dr Suggitt added: “The recent global assessment report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services highlighted worrying declines in plants and animals around the world.

“But it also highlighted the sore need for greater clarity over how climate change is shuffling the deck of plant species found in particular locations – especially in under-sampled areas such as the tropics, Africa and Asia.

“We hope our study opens the door to a fuller understanding of how climate change is affecting plant communities, and what this means for the conservation of nature and its contribution to people”.

Materials provided by the University of York

Mountain wagtail

Researchers find climate change is decreasing the size of animals

Researchers from the University of Cape Town (UCT) confirmed that climatic variation is declining animal’s body size by gathering evidence for 23 years between 1976 and 1999.

Associate Professor Res Altwegg and Dr Birgit Erni, along with co-workers examined Mountain wagtail’s (a type of bird) weight change along the Palmiet River in Westville, KwaZulu-Natal. The study has been published in the journal Oecologia.

For the past 100 years, global temperature has increased by 1-degree celsius causing extreme effects on the earth and its ecology. The fossil record shows that aquatic as well as terrestrial animals have become small-sized during the past periods of global warming.

According to scientists, existing global warming could result in smaller animals, although we don’t have sufficient evidence. Researchers on observing a group of wagtails living along the Palmiet River concluded that the idea that climate change can shrink Earth’s animals is true.

Professor Altwegg said that larger animals can tolerate cold conditions better than smaller animals, so one could expect that a warming climate is relatively more advantageous for smaller animals. He also said that although the conclusions supported the idea that climate change is the reason behind declining bird’s body size, there are various other factors that are responsible for this.

Mountain wagtails are slender black, grey and white birds living near small fast-flowing rivers across sub-Saharan Africa. They got their names because of the up-and-down pumping movement they do with their tails. Researchers knew that the temperature near the Palmiet river had increased by 0.18 degree Celsius based on data from the local weather station.

The conclusion drawn showed that along the Palmiet river under high temperature, mountain wagtails had become lighter and lighter, wagtails have started replacing heavier ones in the population and have survived better. This shows that evolutionary pressure is responsible for this.

Professor Altwegg said that other studies didn’t have detailed information to prove that temperature is the actual reason behind the declining of animals by changing their capability to live in various places of the world. Altogether, their outcomes support the concept that climate change is responsible for animals’ declining body size, their interaction and seasonal behaviour but scientists do not have clear evidence in support of other consequences, on the size of animals whether they will respond more extremely, not at all or may respond negatively increasing the body size.

This effect could cause changes across ecosystems. Body size is an important indicator of an animal’s fertility, lifespan and ability to survive stress (food scarcity). It also affects the amount of food they need, their vulnerability and the type of food they eat.

Journal Reference: Oecologia

crops

Climate change is already affecting global food production – and not equally

The world’s top 10 crops – barley, cassava, maize, oil palm, rapeseed, rice, sorghum, soybean, sugarcane and wheat – supply a combined 83 percent of all calories produced on cropland. Yields have long been projected to decrease in future climate conditions. Now, new research shows climate change has already affected the production of these key energy sources — and some regions and countries are faring far worse than others.

Published in PLOS ONE, the University of Minnesota-led study, conducted with researchers from the University of Oxford and the University of Copenhagen, used weather and reported crop data to evaluate the potential impact of observed climate change. The researchers found that:

  • observed climate change causes a significant yield variation in the world’s top 10 crops, ranging from a decrease of 13.4 percent for oil palm to an increase of 3.5 percent for soybean, and resulting in an average reduction of approximately one percent (-3.5 X 10e13 kcal/year) of consumable food calories from these top 10 crops;
  • impacts of climate change on global food production are mostly negative in Europe, Southern Africa, and Australia, generally positive in Latin America, and mixed in Asia and Northern and Central America;
  • half of all food-insecure countries are experiencing decreases in crop production — and so are some affluent industrialized countries in Western Europe;
  • contrastingly, recent climate change has increased the yields of certain crops in some areas of the upper Midwest United States.

“There are winners and losers, and some countries that are already food insecure fare worse,” says lead author Deepak Ray of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, whose high-resolution global crop statistics databases have also been used to help to identify how global crop production changes over time. These findings indicate which geographical areas and crops are most at risk, making them relevant to those working to achieve the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals of ending hunger and limiting the effects of climate change. Insights like these lead to new questions and crucial next steps.

Map of Earth and the change in units measured of crop yield from year to year.

Global map of changes in wheat yield on average annually. Units are measured by tons per hectare per year. Figure credit: Deepak Ray

“This is a very complex system, so a careful statistical and data science modeling component is crucial to understand the dependencies and cascading effects of small or large changes,” says co-author Snigdhansu Chatterjee of the University of Minnesota’s School of Statistics.

The Institute’s Global Landscapes Initiative, whose contributors to this study included Ray, Paul West and James Gerber, has previously produced global scale findings that have been put to use by international organizations such as the U.N., World Bank and Brookings in evaluation of global food security and environmental challenges. The scholars say this report has implications for major food companies, commodity traders and the countries in which they operate, as well as for citizens worldwide.

“The research documents how change is already happening, not just in some future time,” says Ray.

Materials provided by University of Minnesota

Simplified diagram of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation

Changes in ocean ‘conveyor belt’ leading to abrupt climate changes

We are all aware of global warming due to which we experience a lot of changes in the climate. Recently a team of experts found out that there are changes that are happening due to this global warming in the ocean.

Let us now understand as to what are the changes happening in the ocean. In the Atlantic Ocean there lies a giant “conveyor belt” that carries warm water from the tropics into the North Atlantic, where they cool down and sink southwards into the ocean. This circulation pattern is a very important player in the global climate change since it regulates the weather patterns in the Arctic, Europe and across the world.

Today, we have strong evidence that the conveyor belt is slowing down. The scientists are scared that this would cause a dangerous situation to occur like causing climatic changes in Europe and warming the waters of the East Coast of the United States which in return could harm the horticulture.

According to a study done by collaboration between scientist at the Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the Norwegian Research Centreit is believed that if this slowing process continues and there is no measure taken in order to stop it, the entire system would become weak and the effects would be worst.

The above study precisely determines the time lags between past changes to the ocean conveyor belt and major climate changes.

Thermohaline Circulation

This map shows the pattern of thermohaline circulation also known as “meridional overturning circulation”. This collection of currents is responsible for the large-scale exchange of water masses in the ocean, including providing oxygen to the deep ocean. The entire circulation pattern takes ~2000 years. (Source: Nasa Earth Observatory)

The team of scientists studied the AMOC (Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation) which is a key section in the ocean current pattern. They zeroed in on a section where water sinks from the surface to the bottom of the North Atlantic and they confirmed that the AMOC started weakening about 400 years before a major cold snap 13,000 years ago and began strengthening again about 400 years before abrupt warming 11,000 years ago.

Francesco Muschitiello from the University of Cambridge and the lead author said, “Our reconstructions indicate that there are clear climate precursors provided by the ocean state—like warning signs, so to speak.

In order to understand whether these changes in the ocean conveyor belt occurred before or after the abrupt climatic shifts that punctuated the last deglaciation in the Northern Hemisphere, the scientist pieced together the data from a sediment core drilled from the bottom of the Norwegian Sea, a lake sediment core from southern Scandinavia, and ice cores from Greenland.

Usually, Carbon-14 is used in order to determine the age of that particular fossil but in oceans, it is not possible to determine as Carbon-14 is formed in the atmosphere and it takes time for it to reach the oceans. That is why Carbon is measured in the nearby lake sediment core and they found out the age of each sediment core.

Now they compared the real age of the marine sediments to the age they were reading from Carbon-14 measurements. Indifference in them gave an estimate of how long it took for Carbon-14 to reach the ocean which means it revealed that how quickly the water was sinking in this area in a process called “deep water formulation” which is essential to keep the AMOC going.

Detailed view of synchronized CO2, climate and ocean circulation records during the Younger Dryas stadial

Detailed view of synchronized CO2, climate and ocean circulation records during the Younger Dryas stadial. Credit: Muschitiello et al., Nature Communications, 2019

The final piece of the puzzle was to analyze ice cores from Greenland, to study changes in temperature and climate over the same time period. Measurements of Beryllium-10 in the ice cores helped the authors precisely link the ice cores to the Carbon-14 records, putting both sets of data on the same timeline. Now they could finally compare the order of events between ocean circulation changes and climatic shifts.

Comparing the data from the three cores revealed that the AMOC weakened in the time leading up to the planet’s last major cold snap, called the Younger Dryas, around 13,000 years ago. The ocean circulation began slowing down about 400 years before the cold snap, but once the climate started changing, temperatures over Greenland plunged quickly by about 6 degrees.

Keeping all that aside, let us stop polluting and let us take preventive measures so as to prevent this slow down of the above-mentioned conveyor belt and to save humanity from its disastrous effect.

Published Research: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-09237-3

Antarctica Glaciers

The science behind climate change

The earth’s climate has changed drastically over the decade. Geostationary satellites revolving around our planet help us see the big picture (quite literally), accumulating data constantly and updating us about the conditions of the Earth. Be it from the melting of polar ice caps to erratic monsoons and weather changes, and most definitely warming up of oceans to rise of sea levels. These events essentially indicate the dire condition of the climate all around the globe and its immediate need for attention.

The evidence behind climate change

  • Rising temperatures

Global warming is not a phenomenon we are unfamiliar with. It has had serious implications on our planet in various ways in the last decade and even before. Erratic rainfall, severe droughts, rising sea levels, etc. the main reason behind the rising of temperature was the increase in CO2 levels which was again caused due to pollution. In fact, the last decade 2000-2009 was the hottest on record.

Global Temperature

  • Ocean acidification

Since the industrial revolution swept through our planet bringing in new opportunities, adversely it has brought about some pretty serious implications on our large water bodies. The acidity in ocean waters has increased by 30%. This is due to the CO2 which is being expelled in greater quantities and in turn being absorbed into the oceans. The amount increasing per year is a whopping 2 billion tons per year. And that is just the upper layer of oceans.

  • Extreme events

Certain events occurring around the globe have captured the attention of various environmentalists and scientists, such as in the United States the number of recorded high-temperature weather phenomenon has been increasing. On the other hand, the number of low-temperature weather phenomenon has been decreasing since 1950. The number of intense rainfall conditions has also increased in this time period.

  • Shrinking glacial cover

From the snowy peaks of Himalayas to the Andes, the Rockies, Alps, etc. glaciers are decreasing everywhere around the world. This is a serious indication of climate change and poses serious threats to sea levels and mountain animals. Even islands remain in threat of disappearing completely under the rising sea levels. Satellite observations have revealed how much of this is true. In the past five decades, the snow cover has melted over the Northern Hemisphere.

  • NASA’s data

The ice sheets that form a huge landmass of Greenland and Antarctica have diminished in mass. According to NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment data, every year the loss of ice is 281 billion tons between 1993 and 2016. In Antarctica, the loss is 119 billion tons in that same time period. On top of that, the rate of ice mass loss in Antarctica has tripled in the last ten years.

 

Signs and Science behind climate change

The various compounds, whose abrupt increase in our environment which has caused changes in our climate are CO2, CH4, N2O, O3, etc. Their formations have been explained below:-

6 O2 + C6H12O6 --------> 6 H2O + 6 CO2 + energy

This is the process of combustion during which O2 reacts with glucose (C6H12O6) to produce water (H2O) and CO2. These chemical reactions occur when organic matter burns in our environment releasing chemical energy in the form of heat and light.

CH3COOH --------> CO2 + CH4

This is the microbial process of methanogenesis during which acetate (CH3COOH) is split into CO2 and Methane (CH4). Methane has the greatest impact on freshwater wetlands and rice paddies. The amount of methane produced in these fields increases with the area of land required for these rice paddies. This is the direct impact of the human population on climate change.

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is another contributing factor which is formed as a by-product of nitrification and denitrification.

CH4 + 4O2 --------> HCHO + H2O + 2O3

Smog is another pollutant that causes irritation of eyes and lungs, especially in city inhabitants. Tropospheric ozone (O3) is a constituent of smog that causes the mentioned problems.

NO2 + sunlight --------> NO + O

O + O2 --------> O3

NO2 + O2 --------> NO + O3

This is another process by which tropospheric ozone is emitted from atmospheric nitrate (NO2). First, the breakdown of nitrate occurs from which nitric oxide (NO) and an atom of oxygen (O) is obtained. After that, it combines with O2 and produces O3. Depicted above is the basic science behind climate change.

Random Quiz

Which of the following is not a greenhouse gas?

Correct! Wrong!

In order, the most abundant greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere are Water vapor, Carbon dioxide, Methane, Nitrous oxide, Ozone, Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and Hydrofluorocarbons (incl. HCFCs and HFCs). Carbon Monoxide does not cause climate change directly.


Main reasons behind climate change

We might not be able to notice changes in our Earth’s climate and enjoy it as normal. However, the Earth’s climate is ever-changing, more rapidly in these times than ever so before as seen in the geological record. There are a lot of reasons behind climate change and a lot of factors, natural and anthropogenic (human-induced) which has contributed to this. The rapid rate of climate change is now a great concern worldwide.

Here are some of the main reasons behind climate change:

  1. Human activity
    • We, humans, are the ones who emitted greenhouse gases in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution. This led to more heat retention and absorption which in turn, increased surface temperatures.
    • We have emitted aerosols and these, after scattering in the atmosphere have absorbed solar and infrared radiation, which has had an adverse effect on the microphysical and chemical properties of clouds.
    • We have also changed the usage of lands, deforested them, which in turn led to a greater amount of sunlight being reflected from the surface of the earth back into space also known as the surface albedo.
Haiti Deforestation

Satellite image showing deforestation in Haiti, Haiti-Centre. This image depicts the border between Haiti (left) and the Dominican Republic (right). (Source: NASA)

  1. Solar Irradiance

Since the Sun is our nearest star and our most fundamental source of energy, it does have the effect that is instrumental to our climate changes. The Ice Age between 1650- 1850 in Greenland was due to the littlest decrease in solar activity. From 1410-1720 it was cut-off by ice and all the Glaciers shifted in and moved towards the Alps.

  1. Tectonic movements of plates and volcanic activity

Tectonic plates form the very basis of our continents and even the slightest movement can cause them to move to very different positions from their initial location. These plate movements can cause eruptions in volcanoes which in turn contribute to climate change.

The eruptions from volcanoes which consist of gases and dust particles may warm or cool the Earth’s surface altering it’s temperature significantly.

  1. Changes in ocean currents

Ocean currents carry heat to all the other water bodies of the Earth. Hence, the change in direction of these currents can change affecting the warmth or coolness of various continents. These can have a relatively large effect on our overall climate (including coastal climate and global too) because oceans harbor a large amount of heat.

These are some of the main reasons behind climate change.

Remedies for climate change

We, as humans should individually take measures to save our planet Earth and so that our climate is not affected as much.

  • Instead of depleting our reserved fossil fuels, we need to use more renewable resources such as wind, wave, tidal and solar energy.
  • We need to make use of more public transport instead of our private vehicles. We need to gradually replace our petrol driven vehicles with electric ones in the future to reduce the emission of toxic gases in the atmosphere.
  • One of the easiest steps our government can take is cutting methane emissions. Methane is 84 times harmful than carbon dioxide emissions and is a much greater reported problem.
  • We should wisely use our available energies. We can do this by using energy-efficient light bulbs, unplugging computers and other electronic devices when not in use, washing clothes in cold water instead of warm, using natural sunlight to dry our clothes instead of dryers, etc.
  • Focusing our lives in nature rather than consuming and purchasing. If we start practicing composting, recycling, sharing, fixing and making our lives would be greener and cleaner and would significantly enrich nature and our lives in the process.
  • Carbon pricing so that polluting nature has a heavy price. It might sound not as much of an important step but it paves the way for greener solutions. As agreed by market economists, carbon pricing is also a business-friendly way to decrease pollution in nature. The federal needs our individual support to help make this possible.
  • We should consume more organic meals and less meat. By doing so, we will help ourselves to a better diet and also our planet to make it more climate-stable. We should also try growing our own food and never waste it as much as possible.

Final Words

Scientists all around the globe belonging to various scientific societies have published numerous statements, coming to the unanimous conclusion that global warming is the primary factor of climate change and that we, humans are the primary cause. We should definitely stop overloading our atmosphere with carbon dioxide (CO2), which we do when we burn fossil fuels like oil and coal to provide ourselves electricity to power our transports and keep our homes warm. The Earth is steadily warming up in response and this is a dire situation whose consequences will affect us in the very near future in drastic ways.

Read More:

  1. Climate change: How do we know?
  2. Climate change, global warming and greenhouse gases