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Climate Change: A Major Global Threat

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Climate Change: A Major Global Threat

By: Isidoros Karderinis

The climate change—the change in the global climate and in particular the changes in meteorological conditions that extend on a large time scale, is a major global existential threat, much greater than COVID-19.

The greenhouse effect causes the increase of temperature of the planet primarily due to the tremendous rise in carbon dioxide, which has increased by 35% since the beginning of the industrial revolution. And, of course, Europe and North America have the lion’s share in pollution of the atmosphere, with producing 50% of all carbon dioxide. All other countries together are responsible for the other half. While the poorest countries are the least responsible, the people who live in these countries suffer more strongly of the consequences.

The causes of climate change are mainly identified in combustion of fossil fuels (coal, oil, gasoline, natural gas, etc.), which account for 50% of total emissions; in the production and use of synthetic chemicals; in disaster of forest areas, which contributes to the production of additional gases in the atmosphere and to the greenhouse effect by 15%; and, in conventional agriculture and livestock farming, which accounts for 15% of emissions.

The expert scientists knock the danger bell and warn that if there is no urgent global coordinated action by political leaders, governments, industries and citizens around the world, the temperature of the planet is likely to rise above 2°C relative to pre-industrial levels by 2060, and the increase could even reach 5°C by the end of the twenty-first century.

Such an increase in the temperature of our planet will have a devastating impact on nature, bringing about irreversible changes in many ecosystems and consequent loss of biodiversity. Many species are expected to disappear from areas that will be directly and severely affected by climate change.

Today, compared to 1850—from when recording data began, a temperature increase of 1.1°C is observed. Therefore, it is of vital importance that the temperature increase does not exceed 1.5°C, because as scientists estimate, beyond this crucial point there will be no way back.

The climate change, however, which is due to human activities, is a tangible ominous reality and is already adversely affecting our planet. The sectors responsible for the production of greenhouse gases are primarily the sector of energy produce (units of production of electrical power, refineries) but also industrial activities, the modern means of transport (cars, airplanes, etc.) and the activities of the primary production sector.

The extreme weather events, the uncontrolled fires in forests such as the Amazon, which have been characterized as the “lung” of the planet, the heat waves, the heavy rainfall and the prolonged droughts are becoming more frequent and more intensive as a result of climate change, costing tens of thousands of lives every year and causing huge disasters.

The ice at the same time and snow on the poles are melting, with the Arctic being the biggest victim to date, and the world average sea level goes up, as a result to be caused floods and erosion on coasts and lowland coastal areas and to be created environmental refugees. If this unfavorable development continues, areas such as the Netherlands and Venice will be at risk of being permanently lost under the sea waters as new Atlantis.

The climate change also increases existing diseases worldwide but also creates new ones. Too many diseases are particularly sensitive to temperature change, including communicable diseases, such as yellow fever, malaria, encephalitis and dengue fever, and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.  Studies have also shown that exposure to climate- and weather-related natural disasters can result in mental health consequences such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Evidence shows that COVID-19 was a zoonotic event that jumped from animal to humans. Many of the infectious diseases like SARS and even HIV were transmitted by animal to human contact, coming out of the natural environment.

The climate change will also have negative impacts on the economies of the countries given the fact that the high temperatures undermine the productivity of most sectors of the economy, from the agricultural sector to processing. Valid scientists predict that by the end of the century, global GDP will have fallen by 7.22% from what it would have been without climate change.

So, what are the appropriate measures to be taken without delay to effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and keep the temperature at + 1.5°C?

The basic policies for resolutely mitigating climate change may include:

  • Promoting and utilizing renewable energy sources (wind, solar, biomass, etc.);
  • Reduction of the exploitation of oil and gas deposits
  • Imposition of carbon taxes to limit the use of fossil fuels
  • Command and Control Measures from the government
  • Subsidies for low-GHG energy sources or for reductions in GHG emissions by fossil-fuel companies.
  • Restoration and protection of ecosystems and forests  

Four years have passed since the Paris Agreement, the first universal, legally binding agreement for the climate but there have been no substantial results. This raises serious question as to whether there is really the political will to tackle this particularly threatening global problem.

In closing, I would like to emphasize that the effects of climate change will be so dramatic that human civilization will be in danger to collapse as a paper tower. So, in the face of this extremely dangerous climate crisis, the citizens around the world should increase their mobilization even further and the political leaders to finally stand up at the height of the circumstances and take the necessary drastic measures, before it is too late, to reverse this unsustainable course and save the planet.

About the Author:

Isidoros Karderinis was born in Athens in 1967. He is a novelist, poet and columnist. He has studied economics and has completed postgraduate studies in the tourism economy.

Tags assigned to this article:
Climate ChangeCOVID-19

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