5
min read

Primer on Climate Change

Changing earth's climate will harm human life.

Introduction

Climate is the average weather measured over 30 years at a given location. Climate change is the variation and deviance of average weather trends over a long period of time. Weather refers to short-term change. In this article, I will detail how humans are impacting earth’s climate to cause a negative affect on human lives. First, we must understand how to measure climate and how humans affect climate.

Earth’s Timeline

To obtain accurate readings of present-day weather, scientists utilize remote meteorological stations, satellites, and ocean buoys. To travel further backwards in time, scientists refer to paleoclimatology; paleo- meaning “ancient” and -ology meaning as “the study of.” Combined, the study of ancient climate identifies earth’s natural change through tree rings, ice cores, and ocean sediments. A combination of past and present records provides a timeline of earth’s various changes.

Natural Climate Change

Why is climate change important if earth undergoes natural change? To understand the difference between natural change and human-induced change, we must understand how the Earth changes.

The main driver of natural climate change is the alteration of energy. Specifically incoming energy radiation from the sun in the form of sunlight and outgoing energy from the earth in the form of heat. Two factors contributing to climate change are volcanic activity and ice ages, recorded through paleoclimatology.

Volcanos are created when tectonic plates collide, forced to move by gravity. Volcanic eruptions release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the atmosphere: carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide are a few examples. These particles redirect sunlight back into space, effectively cooling the earth’s surface.

Earth has experienced at least 5 ice ages of varying degrees. Concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) were in tandem with periods of glacial cycles while periods of warmth lead to higher levels of CO2.

Anthropogenic Climate Change

Earth undergoes natural change, why is that a concern now?

14,149,98x,xxx tons of CO2 has been emitted into the atmosphere and increasing at a rate faster than being noted - as of April 30, 2022. A time when human activity is the dominant influence on ecosystems and global climate is what scientists defined as the anthropocene. The global concentration of CO2 has increased by 48.9% since the 1750’s.

CO2 and other gases trap earth’s outgoing heat while adsorbing heat from the sun. As more gases fill the atmosphere, more heat is trapped, increasing in global temperatures. It is common to interchange climate change and global warming. Global warming is the increase in temperature; only one effect of climate change. Other effects include: melting glaciers, increase of sea levels, extreme weather events and many more.

Enforced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a global effort is to be made to keep temperatures below 1.5°C or catastrophic impacts will effect millions of lives globally.

Impact: Health

As temperature increases, so will cardiovascular and respiratory disease, damages related to extreme weather, increase infectious diseases, and mental health. Health is an equal matter, but it is not treated equally. Low-income communities or countries suffer the most and are being harmed first. Location, age, economic resources, and those with predisposed health concerns will be impacted by their society’s health care structure and independent health care coverage. About 12% of the global population spend 10% of their household budget on health care.

As temperature increases, dangers include:

  • Increase of 1,000 to 4,3000 additional premature deaths related to ozone and particle pollution nationally per year by 2050.
  • Increased death rate related to disease, respiratory disease, and cerebrovascular disease.
  • Increased heat waves, heat stroke and the associated cardiovascular, kidney, and respiratory disorders.
  • Increasing heat-related dangers caused by urban heat islands, increased urbanization, and heat sinks.
  • Worsening of mental illness and health with the increase of heat.
  • Increase hospitalization for patients with dementia.

A study published by the Lancet Planetary Health reported more than 5 million deaths, 9.4% of global deaths are attributed to non-optimal temperatures per year. The 2-decade old study found heat-related deaths were increasing while cold-related were decreasing.

Diseases carried by mosquitoes and other vectors, will spread further north as their living range increases with temperature. Vector-borne and zoonotic diseases travel between animals to insects, then to people. The World Bank on Climate Change and Health reported a rise of 2-3°C will raise the number of people at risk of malaria by up to 5%, approximately 150 million people.

Impact: Climate Refugees

In 2020, 30.7 million people has been forced to move by an increasing amount of natural disasters. Humans were once able to return home following natural catastrophes, but as there are more natural disasters with increasing severity, humans are forced to leave indefinitely.

Whether movement is internal, within their own country, or external - any movement can cause problems for those already living there. As explained by the European Parliament’s report, “population displacement can create competition – for food and clean water access, but also on labour markets – while also exacerbating existing ethnic tensions, or gender violence.”

Geography influences geopolitics, which in turn influences a country's demands and challenges. “Geo-” relating to earth, and politics referring to the governance of an area, is another problem. Water is one example. Access to water impacts a country’s ability to grow agriculture, to ship goods, or for self protection by having a navy.

Conflict occur when one nation controls the resource. For example, the Nile River flows through multiple countries. Countries upstream can affect water flow or quality, impacting water access downstream. Climate adds another stressor, drying lakes, rivers, and suppressing water supply - forcing individuals to relocate.

Solutions

Humanity requires to change from reliance on fossil fuels to renewable energy. Solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, and biomass are major renewable energy sources:

  • Solar: Energy from the sun.
  • Wind: Wind moves air turbines, generating energy.
  • Hydro: Capturing water movement generates energy.
  • Geothermal: Capture earth’s heat produces energy.
  • Biomass: Biomass from plants are taken and converted to energy.

Change is Easier with 15Rock

Changing how we make energy for everyday use will significantly reduce our CO2 output. Unfortunately, change is difficult. At 15Rock we direct how you can change by comparing your goals to those leading the industry. We reference national frameworks such as the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TFCD) to ensure our goals remain at net zero. We help manage change by mapping out steps on how to reduce emissions. We take your current emissions and create actionable steps towards achievable goals.

We believe data transparency is a large issue. We will help you and your investors understand environmental damages through numbers while providing financial portfolios to ease concerns.

If you enjoyed the article, check out “Carbon Removal: A Narrative” to learn about how financial investments will help reach our global goal of net zero.

To learn more on how 15Rock can help, contact us here for a quick conversation or demo!

Emma Chiu

Product Analyst

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