By Suleiman Aisha Abba
Many people do not know what climate change is, either due to ignorance, false assumption or deliberate misinformation, which has led to a series of myths about climate change. In this article, we tackle the subject from a different viewpoint, discussing what climate change is, its causes, and, its effects on the environment.
First, we need to clarify various concepts: Global warming and Climate Change, climate and weather. Even though these words are sometimes used interchangeably, there are differences between these terms given that it is global warming that causes climate change. As the planet’s temperature rises more than it would naturally, the climate varies.
Global warming refers to increase in average worlds temperature by some activities which are mostly human induced.
Climate Change includes; both global warmings driven by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns.
Climate is the long-term pattern of weather experienced in a place while, Weather on the other hand, describes day-to-day changes in our atmosphere.
You can determine the weather condition of a particular region over a few days by just looking out through the window. But you need a longer-term set of observations to understand the climate of a particular region.
Climate is affected by our atmosphere, a layer of gases that surrounds the earth. These gases act like a blanket wrapped around the earth, trapping the sun’s heat within our atmosphere- the greenhouse effect.
Carbon dioxide, methane and ozone, water vapour, nitrous oxides, and fluorinated gases, are the most common greenhouse gases and the more greenhouse gases there are in the environment the warmer the earth’s climate becomes. This means that human activities which release greenhouse gases, like burning fossil fuels, use of nitrogenous fertilizer, deforestation lead to climate change.
The average global temperature on Earth has increased by a little more than 1° Celsius since 1880. Two-thirds of the warming has occurred since 1975, at a rate of roughly 0.15-0.20°C per decade it is also expected that without increased and urgent mitigation ambition in the coming years, leading to a sharp decline in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, global warming will surpass 1.5°C in the following decade since 30billion tons of CO2 are released every year.
The effects of climate change won’t be felt in a particular region, it will affect all of us. From more extreme weather phenomena; hurricanes, drought, and flooding to increasing food prices; especially in Africa because about 70% of its entire population are farmers and 95% of most crops are rain-fed, massive migration to recreation, and decreased opportunities to appreciate the natural world, people everywhere will feel the effects of climate change.
It will lead to a rise in sea levels, acidification of oceans, melting of ice at the poles, death, and extinction of species, desertification, and forest fires. It will also affect human health, especially children, causing asthma, heart and lung disease due to air pollution.
We are the first generation to experience the highest effects of climate change and the last to do something about it hence tackling climate change is fundamentally necessary to create a world where people and nature thrive since we do not have planet B.
The writer is a WASCAL scholar, studying
International Master’s Programme in Energy and Green Hydrogen, Niger