Apr 28, 2014

The Era of Climate Change


When one basks in the glory of a cool and sunny Spring day, it seems impossible to fathom the devastating consequences that climatic changes have in store for us over the next 26 years, let alone what could happen after 2040 if drastic steps to improve the condition of the environment are not taken soon.

To consider such a distant future would give us the impression that we still have plenty of time to act, but it’s been 20 years that such talk of the consequences of climatic change has been on-going yet here we are faced with the reality that we believed would take so long to pass. As such, here we are in 2014 living in the Era of Climatic Change.

The projections made by the IPCC in its latest edition of Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability are not very encouraging. Not having taken strict measures in the past few years with regard to the releasing of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere has led to an increase of 0.6 °C in the Earth’s temperature. Some of the consequences relevant to this are: the destruction of corral reefs; migrations of terrestrial and marine wildlife; the melting of glaciers; experiencing extreme temperatures such as the polar vortex (pls see images) which affected North America; or, the dry spell being experienced in the south-west of the United States of America (California’a Water Crisis), etc.

The report not only deals with the actual crisis but also with what the consequences of this climatic change will be in the future and with it, one wonder’s how will we respond in the face of it? The scenarios that have been presented are two-fold, including: what will be done from here on in until 2040; and, what would be done thereafter.

From here on in until 2040: Within this scenario we need to adapt and take the steps which will enable us to confront the consequences of climatic change that are reflected at the economic, environmental, nutritional and social levels. This adaptation will not be easy to all regions since not all of them have the same technological capacity, nor the same economic and social resources to immediately confront this crisis that we are experiencing. It’s worth pointing out that this possibility of adaptation has its limits since we won’t have the ability to adapt ourselves to all the changes. It is important to keep in mind that independently of what is done today to diminish the emissions of carbon dioxide, the benefits will not reflect themselves on the environment over the next 26 years, since the factors htat have been having an impact on the climatic change that we are experiencing have been brought about on account of years of inefficiency in the implementation of regulations and technologies that would support sustainable development. In few words, we are living a climatic change in inertia and which is independent of the present and near future. This is not to say that all is lost, as this negative inertia can revert itself if we were to, from this moment, begin on a campaign to seriously reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases such that by 2040 a recovery of the environment would be possible to be seen.

From 2040 onwards: It’s important that from today serious and more efficient measures be taken that will bring about a reduction in the emissions of carbon dioxide and so reverse the negative effect of climatic change from 2040 onwards. We need to a avoid increases in the global temperature of over 4 °C, otherwise the consequences could be catastrophic. Two scenarios can be considered:
  • The first where we are able to retain the increase of global temperatures to less than 2 °C and so avoid an apocalyptic effect. This would permit for the continuation of humans to adapt themselves and to enable the possibility for the environment to recover. 
  • The second takes into consideration an increase in global temperatures of between 4 °C and 6 °C, with irreversible consequences including the disappearance of glaciers, increases in the sea levels of up to 7 meters and even the possibility of mass extinctions of animals and plants. 
Unfortunately the problem being faced today is two-fold: to find solutions and measures that will permit us to adapt and survive the actual effects of climatic change; and, to take strict and rapid measures which will impede an increase of more than 2 °C in the global temperature and so guarantee our existence past 2040.

In this day-and-age we have available to us technologies to produce renewable energy and in this manner reduce our dependency on fossil fuels. Presently the research into new technologies and systems that can permit a sustainable development are ever on the increase. The legislation to foment sustainable development has increased in these past years but still there is a need to increase the investment in this sector that can be so much more profitable than continuing with the use of fossil fuels, without taking into consideration the benefit to the environment.

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