Climate change, what is it?


People (some people) talk about "it" often, this thing called climate change and the impending doom that is destroying the planet. "It" has even made it to the headlines before, but what actually is climate change? We may joke that the UK could do with global warming, however, it’s important to note here that climate change doesn’t just mean because the temperature is going to increase by 1.5 degrees globally that it’s going to get hotter, surprisingly it means that globally climates are going to change and drastically.

Some context, the climate is the weather patterns of a region controlled by many factors, one being the oceanic currents. Let's focus on the UK for a moment. The Gulf stream of Mexico brings a warm current up through the Atlantic ocean, which warms the air, creating the weather patterns the UK knows and loves (maybe not). But with the earth surface temperature rising and causing ice caps to melt in the Arctic, which in turn will have an effect on the Gulf Stream of Mexico by cooling both the waters and the air that moves with it, making the UK cold, like really cold.

There is less ice with the ice melting due to the increased temperatures. Ice is white (I know, stating the obvious here) but this is really important because white reflects the suns rays a lot more than darker colours, i.e. the sea. You must remember that diagram in school of the suns rays with yellow arrows going everywhere? With less white area this means that the warmth of the sun is being absorbed into the sea, creating even more of a warming effect.

But we can’t just think of the effects climate change is going to have on the UK. It is a worldwide problem. Extreme weather is already being reported across the globe. Just look at Australia at the moment, with the worst bushfires ever seen. Although climate change does not create bushfires the rising temperatures are making them spread more fiercely (*1).

Sea levels rising, as previously mentioned, are predicted to affect most low lying islands across the globe. The Maldives, Seychelles and some smaller Scottish islands to mention a few.  Flooding will pay a big part in making these islands uninhabitable with the tide dynamics changing and contaminating freshwater resources on these smaller places (*2.

Extreme weather is obviously devastating for communities in specific areas. And things like desertification due to a rapid increase in temperature in developing countries cause deaths on a catastrophic level. Climate change will have an impact on everyone globally whether it is flooding, fires or lack of food.

So what can you do to combat ‘it’? 

Planting trees is a really good way to help fight climate change. By doing so land areas will become more biodiverse and the woodland or tree will act as a carbon sink. There are many ways to get on board with planting trees, using the search engine ecosia is one way. Listening to this song PLANET is another, with all the profits going to treesisters. If you want to be more hands-on the woodland trust’s “big climate fightback” is a campaign to get 1million Brits to plant a tree on the 30th November.

We can do things on an individual level to help change the path of climate change and to mitigate actions that have already happened. Reducing meat consumption, walking to the shops instead of driving, getting the train instead of taking that long solo drive. We can make an impact because even if you feel like just 1 person, there's another 7 billion out there thinking the same.

Written by Daisy Culbert

References

*1 (https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/nov/11/what-are-the-links-between-climate-change-and-bushfires-explainer)

*2 (https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/islands-sea-level-rise-flooding-uninhabitable-climate-change-maldives-seychelles-hawaii-a8321876.html)

 


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