Thursday, January 7, 2021

What is climate change, exactly?

Let's start with why it's happening, so we can understand what is happening. 

Climate change is also known as "global warming", which is a more specific name for the problem. "Climate change" means any type of climate change, from global cooling to global warming, like the Ice Age. Thousands of years ago, the planet experienced natural dips and rises of global temperatures. 

But this time it isn't that. This time the cause is humans. 


What are humans doing to cause this?

It's the use of fossil fuels.

Fossil fuels are natural resources like propane, coal, natural gas, etc. I found this description on Wikipedia: 

"A fossil fuel is a fuel formed by natural processes, such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms, containing organic molecules originating in ancient photosynthesis[1] that release energy in combustion.[2] Such organisms and their resulting fossil fuels typically have an age of millions of years, and sometimes more than 650 million years.[3] Fossil fuels contain high percentages of carbon and include petroleum, coal, and natural gas.[4] Peat is also sometimes considered a fossil fuel.[5] Commonly used derivatives of fossil fuels include kerosene and propane. Fossil fuels range from volatile materials with low carbon-to-hydrogen ratios (like methane), to liquids (like petroleum), to nonvolatile materials composed of almost pure carbon, like anthracite coal. Methane can be found in hydrocarbon fields alone, associated with oil, or in the form of methane clathrates."

Basically, a substance formed over millions of years containing a lot of carbon. It can manifest in a liquid, like gasoline, or a solid, like coal (both of which are fossil fuels). We mine these natural resources to fuel our electricity plants, vehicles, airplanes, and the production of many everyday-life items. When we use the fuel, the carbon dioxide in the fuel becomes "waste". The waste has nowhere to go but into the atmosphere. The more Co2 emitted, the stronger the greenhouse effect. 


The Greenhouse Effect

Carbon dioxide is a heat-trapping gas. Have you ever been in a room full of people---like a party, for example---and it felt too stuffy? Yes, it was partially from body heat, but the carbon dioxide we exhale added to it and made the body heat stay longer.  

This explains it well: 

It takes longer for heat to escape into space with the greenhouse effect.

But, that said, we have solutions. We can't stop climate change, but we can definitely slow it and avoid the worst-case-scenario if we take action. Speaking up via social media, blogs, and everyday conversations and even just setting an example by living in a sustainable way makes a difference. We can adapt. Humanity has done it in every generation.

I hope you enjoyed my first article and/or found it useful!

Here are some references I used and you can use to learn more and find out how to help.

What is climate change, exactly?

Let's start with why it's happening, so we can understand what is happening.  Climate change is also known as "global warming&q...