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Global warming vs. Climate change
The world is not the same as it was in terms of weather change. The temperature of the earth is rising every passing day due to the activities of mankind. Global warming is a serious and irrefutable phenomenon. But still, some people are unaware of the gravity of the situation and are reluctant to accept it. Another misconception among people is that they confuse the term ‘global warming with ‘climate change. Whereas, global warming is the average increase in the earth’s temperature due to greenhouse gas emissions. These gasses are entrapped in the atmospheric layers surrounding the earth hence causing temperature rise. The average temperature of the earth is 15 degrees Celsius and by 2100, a 2–4-degree Celsius rise is prospective.
Whereas climate change is the umbrella term that encompasses global warming. It shows the greatest and long-term changes in the overall climate of the earth. For instance, the extreme and harsh conditions of the weather, average humidity level, frequent floods, rains, melting of glaciers, and the rise in the sea level. Global warming is one of the effects of climate change.
What authorities are responsible to take countermeasures?
Global warming and climate change are rising problems for everyone living on this earth. These issues required a collective and global response for framing a solution. United Nations is a universal institute that understood the problem and took the lead to initiate counter aims for resolving this problem. To tackle different universal issues UN has established a separate entity.
Similarly for climate change, the UN has a special agency called the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC). UN has a separate environment program. To deal with environmental matters, the UN has established special organizations and framed laws to tackle climate change and global warming issues.
What is IPCC?
In collaboration with World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the UN established a research organization called Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC. Its head office is located in Geneva, Switzerland in the building of WMO. It has 196 member countries. IPCC functions to keep the member countries informed about the recent climate situations. IPCC has three different working groups that work on the physics of climate change, its impact, and how to mitigate such adverse effects. the recommendations of IPCC are not binding on the governments of member parties. They only have persuasive nature.
What is the Kyoto protocol?
Kyoto protocol (pdf) is the document that operationalized UNFCCC. It was adopted in 1997 but came into force in 2005. It has 192 member states which makes it a universal agreement. This protocol was signed and accepted by the UN member states to limit the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG). Industrialized member countries showed the intention not to cross a specific limit of Carbon emission. This protocol is binding on the developed countries that they are responsible according to their capabilities.
An amendment was adopted in 2012 in Doha, Qatar, to extend the commitment period from 2013 to 2020. In the amended instrument, the GHG list was revised for the countries and the target was changed.
What is Paris Agreement?
Kyoto protocol binds the industrialized states to no to cross a certain limit of GHG eruption. Paris agreement (Pdf) is a remarkable achievement because it brought 196 countries to a common cause and that is to stop the rise in earth’s temperature. It was signed in 2015 at COP21 (Conference of Parties) in Paris. Its goal is to keep the earth’s temperature below 2 degrees Celsius.
The Paris agreement works in two stages, the short-term and the other one is long-term. It welcomes the party states to come up with their strategy on how they want to work on climate change. Paris agreement calls this stage Nationally determined contribution (NDC). These are short-term plans for 5 years. Whereas, the long-term plans are the extension of these where the Paris Agreement demands the party states develop a Long-term low greenhouse gas emission development stage (LT-LEDS). This shows that the main focus of this agreement is to maintain the earth’s temperature at around 1.5 degrees Celsius by emitting less GHG.
10 misconceptions about global warming
Despite developing research bodies under the supervision of the UN and framing special laws to tackle climate change and global warming still, people have some misconceptions about global warming.
1. It’s a natural process
There is no doubt that climate has a natural cycle of variation. What we observe in one year is the change in weather instead of climate. Weather is the atmospheric condition of a place whereas climate is the long-term weather of a specific region and doesn’t change abruptly. Over the past few decades, we have seen an abrupt change in the climate of several regions of the earth. Scientists have studied the CO2 level in the ice core of Antarctica and reached a conclusion that they are higher than in the past. Hence, the abrupt change in the weather extremes is due to a rise in CO2 levels.
2. The reason is the sun
People believe that the sun has started burning more than in the past. Sun sends its energy in varying intensity on the earth. Earth’s orbit and tilt towards the sun change in a periodic manner. What amount of energy that reaches earth depends on these interactions of tilt and orbits with the sun.
3. Carbon dioxide does not make a huge impact
Some argue that the ratio of Carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is small therefore a little increase cannot make a huge impact. CO2 concentration is indeed low but its heat-trapping capacity is high exponentially. Therefore, a little rise makes a manifold impact.
4. An act of God
Religious and elderly people notice the harsh realities of the weather and reminiscence the moderate climatic conditions from their childhood or adulthood. They believe that a harsh climatic condition is an act of God only. They don’t believe that the reason for these abrupt changes is the act of God but the act of mankind.
5. No consensus among the scientific community
Some believe that scientists have no agreement on the reason for climate change. Whereas the whole scientific community has built a consensus that global warming is due to the activities of mankind. According to a 2013 paper, there is consensus among 97% community on the reason for global warming.
6. There is a hole in the ozone layer
Another big misconception that is found in most people is that the ozone layer (in the stratosphere) is the reason for the rising temperature of the earth. The ozone layer protects the earth from UV radiations coming from the sun. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) cause a hole in the ozone layer. These CFCs were banned in Montreal Protocol. This hole is causing the UV radiation to reach the earth which does not cause the temperature to rise.
7. Global warming is a good thing
People who face long and harsh winters are in favor of global warming because they can get rid of frigid winter. But they don’t understand that some places have beautiful winter. Although winter is losing its intensity which is due to global warming. Those people who are in favor of global warming need to check the realities that this thing can cause a rise in sea levels, frequent flooding, wildfires, and massive die-offs of coral reefs. Global warming will affect the different parts of the world differently.
8. Grand solar minimum
Many scientists believe that we are going to enter an age where the solar activity will decrease and this will reduce global warming. This age is called the grand solar minimum. But it’s still a myth because there is no consensus on it.
9. Global warming will destroy the world
Such false news and conspiracy theories spread among the people and by the people to achieve some political gains. Several websites on the internet are run by conspirators who publish and public such false and fictitious news that global warming will destroy the world by 2025 or 2030. This is really not true.
10. There is nothing we can do
A most common misconception is that there is nothing we can do about global warming. It is irreversible. Well, this isn’t true. We can do a lot to undo what we have done already. To counter the global warming issue, we need to plant trees, reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, meet the criteria of the Paris Agreement and Kyoto protocol, start recycling products, reduce the consumption of plastic, and find nature-based and sustainable solutions to our problems.