Climatic change is defined as a change in the statistical properties of the climatic system when considered over long periods of time. In other words, climatic change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years.
Climatic change is a long-term shift in weather conditions identified by changes in temperature, precipitation, winds and other indicators. Climatic change can involve both changes in average conditions and changes in variability, including other extreme events. Any factor that causes a sustained change to the amount of incoming energy or the amount of outgoing energy can lead to climatic change. As these factors are external to the climatic system, they are referred to as climatic forcers invoking the idea that they force or push the climate towards a new long-term state, either warmer or cooler depending on the cause of change.
CAUSES OF CLIMATE CHANGE
A number of factors have been identified to be responsible for the causes of climatic change. These factors are:
- Green House Effect: The build-up of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere has led to an enhancement of the natural greenhouse effect. It is this human-induced enhancement of the greenhouse effect that is of great concern because on-going emission of greenhouse gases has the potential to warm the planet to levels that have never been experienced in the history of human civilization.
- Ozone Layer Depletion: The ozone layer refer to a tiny layer in the atmosphere that prevent or reduces the amount of sun-light or radiation from getting to the surface of the earth. As a result of the negative activities of human beings, this ozone layer is been depleted gradually and this now lead to direct release of radiant light directly to the earth surface resulting in global warming or increase in the intensity of heat on the earth surface.
- Chloro-fluoro Carbon (CFC) Gases: The CFC refers to other forms of gases that are released to the atmosphere. These gases include methane and tropospheric gas resulting from the burning of fossil fuels into the atmosphere and these eventually lead to climatic change in the environment.
- Volcanic Activities: Volcanic activities also can cause climatic change. Volcanic eruption does release various substances and gases into the atmosphere thereby leading to changes in the climate of that area.
- Carbon Emission: The activities of man and other natural occurrence do lead to the release of carbon into the atmosphere. The release of these carbons can be from the burning of fossil fuels and the conversion of land for forestry. The activities of man change the land surface and emit various substances to the atmosphere. The dominant product of fossil fuel combustion is carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas.
- Increase in Population: The continuous increase in population has also increased the level of emission of various substances into the atmosphere. A higher urban population in industrialized areas is more likely to increase the level of gas emission into the atmosphere which tends to cause climatic change in that area.
- Deforestation: Deforestation refers to the deliberate felling of trees in an environment. Deforestation leads to depletion of oxygen from the environment. Oxygen which is good for human respiration is removed from the environment thereby leading to the concentration of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) capable of causing climate change. It should be noted that trees or all green plant release oxygen into the atmosphere during the synthesis of their food.
- Gas Flaring: The continuous flaring of gas especially from petroleum products does generate enormous gases such as carbon dioxide and other dangerous gases into the atmosphere. These gases are large enough to cause climate change in the environment.
CONSEQUENCES OF CLIMATE CHANGE
The consequences of climate change pose a serious threat to human lives, to economic development and to the natural world on which much of our prosperity depends.
Some of the consequences of climate change are:
- Melting of Ice Caps: As a result of global warming, the polar ice sheets have started to melt and glaciers around the world are shrinking. The combination of these changes is increasing the sea levels which in time threaten low-lying areas and islands.
- Increasing Temperatures: As a result of the depletion of the ozone layers, the earth is now receiving direct rays of the sun and this has resulted in the continuous increase in the temperature of the environment.
- High Rainfall: The changes in the temperatures and other weather conditions of the environment have resulted in heavy rain which is now causing serious flooding in most parts of the world. Such heavy flooding has wiped out settlements, buildings and other infrastructures in the cities including residential areas.
- Submergence of Coastal Cities: The ever increasing rainfall, the melting of ice glaciers etc. have resulted in increase in the level of the water in the ocean. This increase in the level of water in the sea or ocean has led to the rise in the sea level which eventually is now leading to the submergence of the coastal cities.
- Desertification: Extreme weather conditions resulting from low rainfall and high winds are now causing desertification in regions that are close to the desert. These therefore are leading to desert encroachment of those regions.
- Occurrence of Wild Fire: Changes in the climate of some regions particularly of low rainfall and extreme high temperature are now subjected to high to high risk of wild fire which can spread easily causing damage to human settlement and their properties.
- Cancer and Eye Cataract: Extreme weather conditions due to climatic change have affected the health of the people. Such extreme weather conditions have resulted into cancer and eye cataract in human beings.
- Emergence of New Diseases: Extreme cases of these harsh weather conditions in our environment are fast resulting in the emergence of new diseases in the environment.
- Decrease in Economic Activities: The economic activities of the people are seriously affected. Sectors that rely strongly on certain temperatures and rainfall levels, such as agriculture, forestry, energy and tourism, will be particularly affected by climatic change.
- Extinction of some Plants and Animals: Climate change is happening so fast that many plants and animal species will struggle to cope. Warming of 1.5˚C – 2.5˚C beyond today’s level would put as many as 20 – 30% of plant and animal species at increased risk of extinction.
REMEDIES TO THE PROBLEMS OF CLIMATIC CHANGE
Measures that the government can take to prevent or remedy the problems of climatic change include:
- Reforestation: Reforestation is a deliberate effort made by the government in planting trees around the habitation of human beings. The availability of trees around human habitation does increase the availability of oxygen which is not only useful for respiration but also useful in the purification of the air and provision of shade in the environment.
- Zero Carbon Emission: Deliberate effort should be made by the government to make sure that very little carbon is emitted into the atmosphere. The reduction in the quantity of carbon emission will reduce the effect of climatic change.
- Education: Climatic change should be taught in various levels of our academic activities so that awareness will be made known to people as well as educating people on the danger of climate change and how to control them.
- Population Reduction: Deliberate efforts have to be made to ensure reduction in the population. As explain earlier the fewer the population, the lesser the release of gases and other substances into the atmosphere by the activities of human beings.
- Introduction of gas driven cars: Vehicles that can use gas have to be introduced by the government. The use of fuel by cars is well known to cause or release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and such gases are responsible for climate change.
- Stop the use of Aerosols: The use of aerosol by companies and other commercial activities should be stopped. This gas when released into the atmosphere can released into the atmosphere can cause climate change.
- Legislation: Certain laws have to be put in place banning the activities of human beings that are capable of causing climatic change. For example, gas flaring by petroleum drilling companies has to be stopped so as to prevent climatic change.