The earth is approximately 3.5 billion years old. Over that period there have been changes to our climate and the nature of the earth thousands and thousands of times over.
From having more oxygen or less oxygen, or having a hotter ambient temperature or a colder ambient temperature, the world has been and continues to change. This is nothing new to our planet.
Humans have been around on this little ol’ ball of rock for approximately 150 to 200 thousand years. To put that in perspective, that is approximately 0.0000008% of the Earth’s entire lifespan.
That is nothing. If you gained 0.0000008% interest every single day on your $100 Intertops casino bonus, it would take approximately 34 years to make a dollar in interest.
Yet, despite that monumentally short span of time, humans have changed and shaped the Earth in unimaginable ways.
We’ve built bridges across vast chasms and rivers. We have made giant dams to hold back the power of nature. We have split the atom and harnessed its energy.
In this short span of time, we have conquered, subdued, and mastered our planet. Then, we began to turn our eyes towards the sky. Not only have we conquered the Earth, but we have looked beyond it and traveled to space.
Mankind built giant rockets and spaceships to propel ourselves free of Earth’s influence. And, in 1969, we reached the ultimate climax of our achievements. The first man put a foot down on another celestial body. Man set foot on the moon.
Yet, have we been moving too quickly? We seem to have left a rather big mess on the Earth. Have we set our sights too high and now we cannot see what is right around us? If we have turned our eyes towards the sky, will we forget about what is just below our feet?
The main effect of climate change that is noticeable and measurable is the heating up of the Earth. This is caused by a couple of things, but they are all related to the same kind of effect.
This is called the “Greenhouse Gas Effect”. As greenhouse gases get released into the atmosphere, they allow solar rays to pass into the earth, yet they trap some of that heat near the planet’s surface. This is like how the glass walls of a greenhouse let in sunlight but trap the heat.
So, it was dubbed the Greenhouse Gas Effect. We as a species have begun turning Earth into one giant greenhouse.
But, what kinds of gasses are greenhouse gases? Well, there are a couple of well-known ones that most everyone would be able to name. These are the big contributors to the greenhouse gas effect.
First of all, there is Carbon Dioxide. This is a large industrial byproduct and is famous due to its spotlight by the media and governments. Everyone knows how carbon dioxide is made, but I will give a short rundown.
Usually, it is released through the burning of fossil fuels such as coal in coal-fired power plants, or in the burning of gasoline in your car or truck engine. However, burning anything with a carbon-based fuel will release carbon dioxide.
So, burning wood in your fireplace and burning natural gas in a power plant also release greenhouse gases. However, natural gas is significantly more clean than coal with up to 60% less greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas than coal.
Another big greenhouse gas is water vapor. The problem with water vapor is it could cause a slippery slope effect if we aren’t careful.
Since water vapor is a greenhouse gas, and the air can hold more water if it is warm, the warmer we make the Earth with other greenhouse gas emissions, the warmer it will get from water vapor.
If we are not careful, we could put ourselves in a never-ending cycle of the Earth just getting warmer and warmer as more water vapor can be held by the atmosphere.
Effects of Climate Change
Climate change has major negative impacts on the world and human living. Not only for people in poor countries but people in wealthy nations as well.
First of all, the Earth is getting warmer. This means that polar ice is melting which will lead to rises in the sea level. According to UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), around 18.8 million people have been displaced due to flooding and other climate change related issues.
And, it doesn’t stop there. Droughts have become more common as we have seen from the wildfires in places like California, and the habitable areas for plants and animals have been shifting as temperatures change.
As these temperatures and zones for plants and animals change, so too do the places that are suitable for farming. This means the places where we can plant farms will shift or shrink. That has the problem that it could lead to famine.
Another problem with the drought that I mentioned earlier is that we will not have enough clean water! We need water for almost all aspects of our life, and to not have sources of fresh water nearby would mean we would have to look for costly alternatives such as desalination or shipping in water.
Finally, the heating of the Earth has led to a large number of storms in recent history. Hurricanes are becoming more frequent, and this has led to the destruction and displacement of thousands and thousands of people from their homes.
The fact of the matter is, we cannot deal with more storms. There are people who are still displaced from hurricanes that happened decades ago. To add more people to the pile will only make this problem worse.
Pollution is put into the same vein as climate change because they go hand in hand in many aspects. Both are negative effects on the environment, and both are caused by humans.
Pollution, unlike climate change, has a more tangible effect on people’s everyday lives. If you have gone anywhere and seen litter and garbage then you have seen a form of pollution.
Pollution also comes in the form of air pollution and water pollution. This is when we release harmful or toxic chemicals into the atmosphere or water system. Both of these are usually caused by combustion or industrial byproducts.
Effects of Pollution
Leaving our garbage and waste products around has a huge impact on the environment. Not just for plants and animals, but for us as well! And this isn’t just because we are part of the ecosystem.
In cities where air pollution is really bad, there are higher numbers of respiratory disorders such as asthma, and even a higher amount of heart disease cases.
Worse still is that in cities with large amounts of air pollution, there is also a higher rate of lung cancer amongst people.
However, the effects of pollution aren’t just in the air, they can also be found underwater. From lakes to rivers and oceans, the aquatic ecosystems are suffering.
First of all, everyone has probably heard the buzz around plastic drink packaging and straws being dangerous for sea life. There was such a big movement about it that many places have now implemented metal or paper straws.
However, another big problem that many people don’t know about is microplastics. These are tiny little particles of plastic that can be found in certain products or are bits of larger plastic items that have broken down.
Microplastics are a problem because they can do serious harm to the ecosystem. Plants and birds can sometimes mistake microplastics for food, and they will end up killing or hurting these animals.
Worst of all, it doesn’t end with the fish and the birds. Since these microplastics are now in the food chain, they do what everything in the food chain does; move up to bigger and badder mouths.
This means those fish with microplastics in them are eaten by other fish or birds. So, these plastics that can’t be broken down get spread throughout the food web. Eventually, they can even make it to us humans.
Although the effects of microplastics on human health are not quite yet understood, it is no doubt that we would be better off without them. They are not natural to our environment, and it certainly would not hurt us to “clean up our act.”