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Climate Change: is it exaggerated?

Is the fear over Climate Change and and its consequences exaggerated?

Calling the debate on climate change exaggerated or not depends on what our vision is for the planet: does this generation want to save the planet for future generations, or not?

Human intervention in climate change is at unprecedented levels today. Change in climate for the 650,000 years before Industrial Revolution could be attributed to natural changes with negligible impact — small variations in the Earth’s orbit meant the average temperature today is just 4°F more than in the last Ice Age [1, 2]. But the change has been several times more in just two centuries of human interference post-industrialization, with the average temperature going up by 1.5°F in the past 100 years [3]. While the levels of carbon dioxide never breached the 300 ppm mark in 650,000 years, today it has reached 400 ppm [1].

It is easy to draw connections between industrialization and the alarming change in the climate trends. The overuse of fossil fuels and the subsequent greenhouse effect, the growing needs of the growing population, and the changes in standard of life have all contributed to the global warming. The impact is visible in many forms: economic, health and safety, food production and security [4].

Even if we were to think of our own generation and ignore the future, talking about climate change is not exaggerated, because development has not been uniform all over the world. There are places which have already started showing the catastrophic impact of climate change, which may reach other regions in decades to come. A report released by the U.S. Global Change Research Program describes current impacts of the rising temperatures: heat waves and heavy rains are posing lifestyle threats in northeast U.S., northwest has shown issues with water supplies due to changes in timing of streamflow [5]. Soil erosion, sea level rise, flooding, droughts, spread of pests and insects, contamination of freshwater reserves — climate change is impacting life already [4, 5].

Once we acknowledge that climate change impacts humanity as a whole: not a country or a community, we understand that we all have a role to play in controlling it. It is an environmental issue, but it has social, political, economic consequences internationally. The debate needs to continue in order to find sustainable solutions to human needs, so that communities which are less involved in climate change do not have to bear the consequences, and so that we leave behind a peaceful world for future generations.

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[1] NASA Climate Change portal

[2] Nearest Star: The Surprising Science of our Sun by Leon Golub, Jay M. Pasachoff,  p. 238

[3] United States Environmental Protection Agency

[4] United Nations Environment Programme, Climate Change portal

[5] Third Climate Assessment Report, 2014

 

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