Climate change has been a controversial subject of public debate since the term has become popular recently.
However, the mechanisms behind climate change are not new at all since the early 1800’s scientists have already observed that carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere works to insulate the earth and causes warming (Climate change history, 2020).
The Royal Society and the US National Academy of Sciences have published a 2020 updated version of Climate Change Evidence and Causes – the original came out in 2014.
The updated version contains the most recent climate data, and scientific analyses underpin the fact that human activities cause climate change. Its long-term effects will depend on the amounts of GHG and CO2 we release into the atmosphere.
The updated version shows that carbon dioxide and GHG emitted by and through human activities since the start of the Industrial Revolution is increasing, and concentrations have doubled since the 1970s resulting to a 1°C increase of global temperature since 1990.
The effects are observed through warming of the ocean, rise in sea level, declines in Arctic sea ice, intensity and frequency of heatwaves and other extreme natural events.
The document explains “that there are well-understood physical mechanisms by which changes in the amounts of greenhouse gases cause climate changes”; and the evidence that concentrations of these gases are still increasing at a rapid rate due to GHG emissions by human activity.
If emissions remain unabated, then changes – events that far exceed those that has happened before will occur and will adversely impact human activities, infrastructure, and ecosystem, the book reiterates.
The choice is up to us, and there are several options offered in response to the information provided in the document:
- We can change the pattern of energy production and usage to limit emissions;
- wait for changes to occur and accept losses, damages, and sufferings it entails;
- we can adapt the best we can, and perhaps
- implement unproven geoengineering solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change;
- or do a mixture of these options above each having its risks, costs, and opportunities.
The reality is that vulnerability, and adaptive capacities vary significantly for every country and nation. Not all have the opportunity nor the resources to choose all or any options, and for some nations the impending threat is overwhelming – think of low-lying atoll states who are in danger of disappearing due to rising sea-levels.
The primary purpose of the publication is to assist governments, leaders, and policy-makers in making an informed decision on how to reduce the magnitude of climate change and adapt to its impacts.
Countries that are most vulnerable to climate change are those that control a few of the emissions either past or present.
To read the full document, click on the link below: