Vše, co jste chtěli vědět o klimatické změně #ClimateChangeMatters
By Micah Moen
Hi, my name is Natalia. And I am Dewii. Before I show you the well-known picture of a melting glacier, let’s talk about why this is even happening. The last years have been considered the warmest years in human history, and for years climatologists have pointed out that the climate is changing at a rapid pace and the one to blame is us, humans. The Earth’s temperature has risen by about 1.6 degrees ince 1880. Well, that might not sound that horrible, but think of it this way. The amount of thermal energy released each day as a result of human activity is roughly equal to the explosion of a million atomic bombs on the Earth’s surface every day. On the other hand, the average temperature during the Ice Age was only 4 degrees lower in comparison to the pre — Industrial Revolution era (i.e. before 1790). Over the past few centuries, people have managed to warm the planet by little more than 1 degree, and now we are ”on the right track” to warm it up by 3-4 degrees by the end of this century. But this time, the next 4 degrees will bring extreme drought and heat. Let’s start from the beginning. Why is the planet warming anyway? The sun keeps our planet warm and lit. When the energy in the form of radiation hits the Earth, approximately 2/3 of this energy will also remain there, transforming it into the heat absorbed by the surface of our planet. The rest of the radiation is reflected back from the Earth into the atmosphere where so-calledGreenhouse Gas Effect. They make sure that part of this radiation is collected and sent back to Earth, where it’s again converted into heat. You can imagine it a little like a greenhouse for plants in which it’s also warmer than its surroundings. So the Greenhouse Effect itself has a positive effect on Earth, and without greenhouse gases would be the temperature on the Earth around -18 °C, so about 33 °C less than the current one. The problem is that human activities unnaturally increase the concentration of one of them, namely, carbon dioxide or CO2.
But what is the CO2? Carbon dioxide is one of the greenhouse gases. Without human interference, the atmosphere maintains its stable amount of CO2 that is inevitable for life on Earth. The problem, however, is that its concentration has risen rapidly in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution, by about 40%. The relation between increase of CO2 concentration and atmospheric warming is a proven fact. From the studies published in the past, one can assess that every time the levels of carbon dioxide increase in the atmosphere, it led to a surge of Earth’s temperature, melting of glaciers and rise of the sea — levels. The only difference, although is that this time we pump CO2 into the atmosphere much faster than ever before. Nowadays is the concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere the highest in 800,000 years, a long time before humans even existed. The most significant problem is the burning of fossil fuels (especially oil, coal and natural gas). Fossil fuels were formed in the distant past from the remains of dead plants and animals containing carbon. They have been hidden under the surface for a lot of millions of years, but we people decided to extract, burn and use them as a source of energy and by that disrupted the balanced concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Fossil fuels are a thing of the past, andenergy industry can already replace them with reliable alternatives. We have time to limit the burning of fossil fuels only by 2030 as reported by scientists. The 2030 estimation works on the conclusionsassumption of two key documents. In the Paris Agreement signed by 195 countries in 2015, we have committed to keep the rise of global average temperature below 1.5 °C and at worst below 2 °C by the end of this century. Simultaneously, the report of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) says that if we want to keep the temperature below 1.5°C, we must resolutely reduce emissions by 2030 and be completely carbon neutral by 2050. This means that all remaining GHG emissions would be regulated by introducing devices that would remove them from the atmosphere. CO2 emissions rose globally by 1.7% in 2017, though. This number went up to 2.7% already in 2018 and an even greater growth is anticipated in 2019. Despite the fact that scientists warn us, it still goes in a different direction. After 2030, the impacts of climate changes could cause irrecoverable damage, bringing fatal consequences for life on our planet. The year 2020 has just begun, and we have only 10 years to reduce our GHG production. Politicians and commerce, parade as if nothing serious was happening. 97% of scientists concur that climate change is caused by human activity. For you to get an idea, a similar percentage of scientists agree that the Earth is round or that oxygen is inevitable for life. In spite of that, people in powerful positions, such as Donald Trump, decided to beat their heads against a wall, claiming that it’s a lie. Why? As the world goes, it’s all about money. After signing the Paris Agreement, banking support for the coal industry dropped worldwide. But when Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw from the agreement, the support began to grow again. No one is surprised by Donald Trump’s friendship with the giants of the energy industry. The former director of ExxonMobil, an oil company that funded a misinformation campaign on climate change for years, served as the Secretary of State under Trump for a whole year. The top ten US energy companies are also planning to up their investments in fossil fuels. These companies would lose billions if states implemented stricter environmental protection policies. Other world leaders are not helping either. Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, brought a clear message: the Amazon Forest is here for business. He said he would continue with the deforestation and since his inauguration in January 2019, satellite data shows that the deforestation has increased up to 92%. The Amazon rainforest has existed for 10 million years. However, it may not survive another 100. Since forests absorb the atmospheric carbon, they play a significant role in combating climate change. Climate change became a crucial topic in Europe in 2019. On November 28th, MEPs have declared a global Climate and Environmental Emergency to achieve the goal of keeping the level of global warming below 1.5 °C. Even more importantly, on December 13th, all EU countries, including Slovakia and Czech Republic, committed to be carbon neutral by 2050. It’s high time to act, as we are already experiencing the consequences of climate change both globally and locally. The oceans cover more than 70% of our planet’s surface and absorb large amounts of heat. This ability gives the oceans a central role in stabilizing the Earth’s climate system since they can store and slowly release heat. In the oceans, changes are very apparent. The planet has already lost about 50% of the coral in the last 30 years and the majority of sea life as well as the lives of the people who depend on it for living will be put at risk. Not to mention that in a way, we owe the oceans for every second breath we take as they are responsible for more than half of the oxygen on the planet. Another problem is the sea level rise. This phenomenon is caused by melting glaciers and the expansion of water when heated. Studies show that between 1900 and 1990, the sea level rose between 1.2 millimeters and 1.7 millimeters per year on average. According to the latest measurement in 2019, the rise in ocean levels is likely to grow to 3.3 ml per year Due to the rising sea — level, not only islands such as the Maldives or Seychelles, but also coastal states such as Vietnam, the UK, or the Netherlands may face serious problems in the near future. The World Fire Atlas recorded 79,000 fires in August 2019, compared to just over 16,000 fires during the same period in 2018. In recent years in Europe, one temperature record has been set after another. As a result of the 2003 summer heat wave, up to 70 000 deaths were recorded. The studies say, by the year 2100, 74% of people on Earth could be subject to at least 20 days of heat and humidity per year associated with deadly heat waves. A huge problem is to us as well, droughts. Based on satellite data, the Czech Republic is one of the most affected areas in Europe. According to the Supreme Audit Office, damages caused by drought in 2018 amounted to 24 billion Czech crowns. Biodiversity loss is caused by other human actions too, but climate change contributes significantly to it. We are experiencing the sixth mass extinction and our activities have caused it. Species extinction, to some extent is a natural phenomenon, it is standard for approximately 5 species to die out a year. However, we are nowadays losing tens of species every day. If we keep on doing this, in 2050 our planet and life on it will be about 30-50% poorer. At the same time, species diversity is essential for the life of all ecosystems and thus for our lives too. Loss of insects is a major threat, currently 40% of insect species are in decline and a third is endangered. If we carry on this way, then by 2030, we will witness the summer sea ice loss in the Arctic Ocean. Nowadays it looks like we will lose more than half of all permafrost, permanently frozen soil, by the end of this century. The next generation will face serious problems. Due to climate change, the weather will be more and more extreme and droughts will also become longer. If the warming of the planet continues, human population from places that will be permanently destroyed by climate change, will increase. Drought is already driving out the afflicted inhabitants from their homes, from countries where a large part of the population depends on agriculture and pastoral farming as a source of livelihood. For you to get an idea, reported by the United Nations, in the mid — 1990s, 25 million people migrated due to bad environmental conditions, and by 2050 there will be as many as 200 million. If you’d like to know more about climate change, we recommend you to take a look at the documentaries Before the Flood, An Inconvenient Sequel or Ice on Fire. These films are also available on the Internet. The climate is changing. Due to human activity. That’s a scientific fact. There is no longer a debate about whether the climate is changing or whether it is due to humans. Just as there is no discussion about the Earth being flat or whether smoking is bad for our health. The debate is about what we need to do to make sure that not only us, but also the nearly 10 billion people who will be with us in 2050, live well here. Why, then, do people tend to not deal with or even deny climate change when our behavior is crucial and there is so much at stake? It is an unpleasant vision, and for many people it is easier to address the situation by denying it or disregarding it. Besides, each of us can help solve the issue. We live in a consumer society, and we are literally consuming our future. In a world full of materialism, it is difficult to resist the shops full of disposable, low-quality and cheap items. Most people still do not know that these cheap products come at a high price. For example, it takes 2700 liters of water to make an ordinary cotton T-shirt, enough for one person to drink for 900 days. We pay a ridiculous 3 euros for it and wear it once. It is designed to withstand only a few washes, so we have to return to the store soon to get a new one. It then ends in huge textile landfills in Third World countries, where it contaminates soil and groundwater. Not to mention that the textile industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world and is responsible for up to 10% of global emissions. And what about food? A third of the food we produce will end up in the bin, and meanwhile, 870 million people on the planet are starving each day. Dairy and meat production is a huge source of emissions. One cow in its lifetime emits as many emissions as if we traveled around the world by car 1 and a half times. Cows also produce large amounts of methane, which is 28 times stronger greenhouse gas than CO2. A surplus is also produced in this field. Every year as much meat is thrown away as if we killed 75 million cows and never ate them. The meat industry also inflicts deforestation as it needs more and more space for livestock and soya to feed it. The aviation industry is responsible for 2.5% of global emissions and is growing very fast. So why not fly for holidays? Because of low taxes, flight tickets today can be found for 1 euro, which is cheaper than riding public transportation for an hour. It is clear that you cannot go to America by train or bus, but honestly, is it really necessary to fly from Bratislava to Prague? Let’s consider if only the necessary things are sufficient for us. Even our planet Earth cannot keep up with our shopping pace. Simply put, if everyone on this planet consumes as the average EU citizen, we will need 2.8 planets instead of 1. And finally, the most crucial thing. Let’s elect such political leaders who offer real solutions and want to get involved. Let’s take part in the protests, let’s not be silent. And that one person can’t do much? Greta Thunberg was also a teenager and now millions of young people from all over the world stand by her side. Let’s educate ourselves, get interested and gain information from scientific sources. Let’s not believe everything that shows up on Facebook and Instagram, let’s check where the truth comes from. We are not talking about a remote future, we are talking about what I myself will be witnessing, not to mention the generation of our children. It is up to you whether you decide to be part of the problem or part of the solution.