Climate Change - Introduction

What exactly is Climate Change, we hear so much talk on the TV of a warming planet and the effect it will have on our lives, newspapers are full of grim predictions but what is it and how significant is it to the world in which we live in.

Carbon Dioxde causes climate change
Climate Change is all to do with the heat from the sun, the sun emits heat which is in part absorbed by the earth (50%) and part bounced back into outer space Carbon Dioxde causes climate change (30%). However, all life in what ever form requires the heat of the sun to survive and flourish. This heat is trapped (20%) by a blanket of gas which surrounds our plant. The gases work in much the same way as a greenhouse by letting light shine through while at the same time trapping a percentage of heat that radiates back from the ground hence the name greenhouse house effect, so its important to realise that the natural gases which cover the planet are there for a reason and play a vital role in maintaining life on earth. The problem of the Climate Change comes about as we create more man made greenhouse gases, the blanket of gases which surround the plant get thicker and less heat escapes our atmosphere to outer space, if the heat can not escape the temperature increases and we have climate change or global warming as it is sometimes referred to.

Coal Power Station

Climate Change brings with it a huge number of obstacles which are both complex and worrying. As the effect of a change in the climate begins to take hold we will start to see more severe forms of weather, we will see an increase in temperature but bizarrely certain parts of the world will experience more extreme winter weather.

One place which is without a doubt experiencing a warming climate is the Artic were the seasons come earlier each year and temperatures rise year on year, the effect of this is the melting Artic Ice Cap.

It is the changing climates in the Artic and Antarctic which are a major cause for concern for scientists and governments around the world because as the ice melts (90% of the worlds ice can be found in the Antarctica) we will see rising sea levels which could have catastrophic effects for millions of people worldwide and not just for the Melting Ice caps poor third world countries (a one metre increase in sea levels would be a real threat to London).
Melting Ice Caps
In addition to the rising sea levels it is worth noting that the melting sea ice actually reduces the amount of heat from the sun that can be reflected back into space which only intensives the effect of climate change. There is a great deal of uncertainty about how and were the worst effect of climate change will be felt, there is however, a broad consensus that climate change does exist (We have reached and surpassed the recognized level of safe greenhouse gases in the atmosphere*) and this must be tackled. The world faces the very real prospect of increased flooding, droughts and devastating hurricanes like hurricane Katrina**, which caused untold damage to the city of New Orleans and the European heat wave of 2003 which was responsible for 20,000 deaths.

The situation is far more urgent than you may imagine, the ramifications of the way we behave today will have a direct effect on the future of mankind. Can we use our understanding, knowledge and technological skills to grasp and put into practise the solutions that are necessary to slow down and eventually stop climate change.

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