What is Climate Change?
Climate change is the raising planet’s average global temperature as a result of increased emission of greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). These gasses are released into the atmosphere as a result of various human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels for power generation, emissions from motorised vehicles and factory emissions.
These effects of climate change are going to be devastating. The melting of polar ice caps as a result of increased temperatures will result in significant rises in sea level. Coastal areas and small islands may be flooded or disappear entirely and seawater will invade rivers, mangroves and other freshwater resources. Change in weather patterns as a result of the temperature rise will cause typhoons and cyclones to increase in intensity in some parts of the world, while others will suffer prolonged drought. The effects of even small temperature rises can have a catastrophic effect on agriculture, wildlife and forests.
What Needs to be done?
Urgent steps need to be taken by all parties – governments, industry, local communities and individuals – if we are to avoid an environmental disaster of global proportions.
Countries must drastically reduce the amound of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions they produce with steps such as significantly cutting back on their use of fossil fuels, promoting energy conservation and efficiency, encouraging the use of public transport and eliminating the emission of greenhouse gasses from industrial activities. Even individuals must play their part by significantly changing their lifestyle patterns.
Steps such as these would cause dramatic changes in a country’s policies, laws and economy. Bold ans far-sighted political decisions would be required, a decision which few countries today are willing to make. International forums, such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are working towards internationally accepted policies – but a great deal still needs to be done at all levels – internationally, regionally, nationally and at local community level.