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  • Writer's pictureMr Dixon


Jennifer in Year 12 shares her detailed research on Climate Change.

The earth is over 4.5 billion years old. It has undergone many changes in its time, including its climate. Weather refers to the atmospheric conditions that happen locally over short periods of time and climate is the weather conditions over a long period of time. In the 20th century, changes in the climate were mostly due to human activities, like fossil fuel burning, which increased greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. Natural processes can also contribute to climate change, like volcanic activity and changes in the Sun’s energy output.

Climate change is monitored from the ground, air and space, along with theoretical models to monitor and study the past, present and future climate change. These instruments include ones like thermometers, rain gauges and satellites. Scientists, volunteers, and automated instruments from around the world measure climate variables at Earth's surface and above. The ocean has a huge impact on climate, so ocean conditions are monitored with satellites, ships, and buoys. Variables that are significant are sea surface temperature, ocean colour, ocean currents, microscopic organisms and sea ice, amongst other things. The amount of solar energy reaching Earth also affects the climate. Changes in solar activity and in Earth's orbit influence the amount of solar radiation reaching Earth and how it is distributed among the different latitudes and seasons. These cycles have caused major climatic changes through Earth's history. Some people who spend a lot of time outside can recognise insect, bird, and animal behaviours as signs of changing weather.

All over the world, local climate influences how we live. The types of homes we build for comfort and safety, the crops we grow for food and clothing, and the recreational opportunities we enjoy are all matched to our long-term weather patterns. Due to greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, produced by human activities, global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come. This graph shows how carbon dioxide in our atmosphere has increased over the years.

Other than the temperatures rising, the frost-free season will lengthen affecting ecosystems and agriculture. Droughts and heatwaves will be more intense while cold waves will become less intense. The global sea level has risen about 8 inches since reliable record keeping began in 1880. It’s expected to rise another 1 to 8 feet by 2100. This is the result of added water from melting land ice and the expansion of seawater as it warms. Even past 2100, the sea level will continue to rise. This is because the oceans take a very long time to respond to a warmer Earth. As the ocean water continues to warm, the sea level will continue to rise for many centuries at rates equal to or higher than those of the current century.

The right image, taken in 2020, shows the aftermath of a larger scale of drought on Paraguay's capital city, Asunción, which includes the area on the right of the image and the part above the river. For comparison, the 2017 image (on the left) shows the city’s environment in a more hydrated state. The Paraguay River is a tributary of the Paraná River, which has also had a decrease in water levels in 2020.

These images show the decline in water level in a section of the Paraná River, near Rosario, Argentina, over the course of one year. The difference becomes more apparent in the adjacent marshes, lagoons, and streams of the river delta. The cause of decline is derived from a prolonged period of unusually warm weather and drought.

The area covered by Arctic sea ice has decreased from 718,000 square miles (1,860,000 square kilometres) in September 1984 to 42,000 square miles (110,000 square kilometres) in September 2016. Ice that has built up over the years tends to be thicker and less susceptible to melting away than newer ice. In these images the age of the ice is indicated by shades ranging from blue-grey for the youngest ice to white for the oldest.

Apple plans to be carbon neutral by 2030. This includes production, suppliers and customer usage. All products will be made with 100% clean energy. Microsoft has been carbon neutral across the world since 2012 and plans to be carbon negative by 2030. On top of that, not only will Microsoft be carbon negative by 2030, by 2050 Microsoft aims to remove all the carbon the company has previously emitted into the environment either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975. These are huge ideas but the fact they have these ideas is a big deal.

You may be unconsciously contributing to climate change by the habits you have in your daily life. Here are some examples:

The agricultural industry contributes more than 8 percent to climate change. Raising livestock to be killed and sold to grocery stores contributes to about a third of the agriculture industry’s greenhouse gas emissions. Producing just one beef steak emits more CO2 than you would by driving for an hour and leaving all the lights on at home. You can directly reduce the demand for meat by making slight changes in your daily menus. The production of food, its processing, transport and delivery all produce greenhouse gases. Throwing away good food not only keeps the demand for these processes unnecessarily high, but it also damages the environment. So, only buy what you need and don’t throw away leftovers, make another dish out of it.

On average, we spend eight or nine minutes a day in the shower which is equivalent to about 12% of our water usage and costing up to £918 a year. Cutting down will reduce your water bill, save electricity and the save the planet.

Another huge contributor to greenhouse gases is wasted electricity. Over-charging electronics, leaving televisions running, using inefficient appliances and forgetting to turn off lights. According to an indy100 article, if all of Britain's 17 million office workers turned off their computers at night, the carbon savings would be equivalent to taking 245,000 cars off the road.

Some things you could do to decrease the amount of electricity you use include: Replacing appliances that are more than 10 years old with more efficient models, only using energy-saving LED lights, switching off the power socket when not in use, or taking your device off the charger once its fully charged.

David Attenborough has dedicated most of his life to nature and climate change. He is an English broadcaster, writer and naturalist. You might know him from narrations of Planet Earth or The Blue Planet. He says that using your voice is the most powerful way to create lasting change. Let people know through social media or voicing your concerns, that climate change is a real thing.

Encourage others to make changes to their daily lives. Be the example and others will follow. Are you up for the challenge?

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