Know Climate Change

Basics of Climate Science

Human-induced Climate Variation

Scientists agree that humans very likely bring about changes in climate through various activities. This can happen at an individual level or at a group level.

Each individual in today’s world plays a role, directly or indirectly, in contributing his or her bit to climate change. Let us see how.

  • Electric power is generated mainly by thermal power plants. These release a huge amount of GHGs.
  • Vehicles run on petrol or diesel; both are fossil fuels. These release a huge amount of GHGs.
  • The more people consume luxury goods, essentials, and household goods, the more industry flourishes. Most industries are run on power generated from fossil fuels. To add to this, the more we consume the more waste we generate.
  • A great deal of waste that we generate, such as plastics, does not get degraded and remains in the environment for many years, causing damage.
  • The use of trees in large quantities for construction of houses leads to further depletion of forests.
  • High-yield varieties of crops require large quantities of fertilizers. More fertilizer use leads to more emissions of N2O, besides increased pollution from the fertilizer industry, as well as other polluting effects resulting from fertilizer run-off into water bodies.
  • Land-use change: It refers to a change in the use or management of land. Such change may result from various human activities such as changes in agriculture and irrigation, deforestation, reforestation and afforestation, but also from urbanization or traffic. Changes in the land surface (vegetation, soils, and water) affect the local climate through changes in radiation, cloudiness, surface roughness, and surface temperatures. Changes in the vegetation cover also have an effect on the surface energy and water balance at the regional level. However, such effects are less understood and require more detailed research.
  • Changes in aerosol level causes scattering of sunlight and hence impacts global energy balance.
 
Are you aware of the Silent Killer?

We might feel that by running our gadgets on batteries, we avoid any damage to the environment and climate - no smoke from our mobile phones, no gases from our handycams!

However, we forget that the materials that go into making the batteries and gadgets – various metals, chemicals, plastics, and so on – are made by a chain of many heavy industries, each running on electricity and each generating its own cocktail of polluting substances that contribute to climate change!

Arrhenius: The man who saw tomorrow!

As early as 1896, Svante Arrhenius, a Swedish chemist, stated that coal-burning industries would cause an increase in global temperature by proving that gases like CO2 (carbon dioxide) trap heat. In fact, CO2 emissions are 12 times higher today than they were when he made his findings! However, at that time a little attention was paid to Arrhenius' prediction, as it did not seem to have any immediate consequence on people's lives. It was only in the 1960s that scientists at Princeton University (New Jersey, US) predicted a rise in global temperature by 2 oC by the 21st century if CO2 emissions were doubled.