What is climate change?

The are a lot of armour regarding to climate change. Many think it’s a hoax, others an inevitable part of life while other still believe it’s an ingenious marketing ploy for renewable energy companies. But what is it really? From a purely scientific view climate change is the resulting changes in the weather due to an increase in carbon, methane and other green house gases which cause the global temperature to increase. Normally rays of sunshine hit the earth and the heat they give off is reflected back into space. However, green house gases act like a blanket trapping the heat and preventing it from escaping. This increases our average global temperature which apart from making it slightly hotter has many ripple effects and negative implications.

 

So is it real ?

The answer is an overwhelming yes backed up by 97% of scientists world wide. Our best climate models cannot predict a scenario where the global temperature has increased by one degree since pre-industrial times as it currently has. The only explanation is that we are dumping green house gases in enormous amounts as illustrated by 51 billion tonnes of CO2(carbon dioxide ) equivalent emissions which were released last year and that number is quickly rising. You may then ask what about the effects of the forest fires and the carbon dioxide that might be released by them. The answer is that our earth naturally releases 200 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalents but our planet also absorbs roughly 200 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide. What this means is that broadly speaking the planet is actually in equilibrium like both sides of a scale perfectly balanced .However, the extra carbon we add accumulates in the atmosphere as there is nothing to take out this additional carbon dioxide, which in the long term has dire consequences as we are now experiencing in the form of unimaginable weather patterns.

Why should we care?

Climate change has the potential to destroy life as we know it. In a Zimbabwean context, our water supplies dry up as drought after drought plagues us. In other areas torrential rain will pound on houses each and every day and entire cities will be flooded. Global sea levels may rise to the extent that massive areas of land are submerged in water. It will mean that food will get more expensive (just when we thought Zim prices were already bankrupting us) as the growing seasons for certain crops could see a reduction by up to 20%. It may mean that our life as we know it will be vastly different. It is estimated that if climate change continues unabated, nearly the entire continent of Africa could become a desert in the foreseeable future. Our planet over time could become almost completely uninhabitable and violence will inevitably erupt as people fight for limited space and resources. If we’re not careful, dark days for our planet could be just around the corner. So we really have no choice but to act now

 

By Mikhail Hawa

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