The planet's average surface temperature has risen about 2.12 degrees Fahrenheit (1.18 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century. This is due to climate change. Even though the earth’s climate has constantly been changing — even long before humans came into the picture there have been some unusual changes in the past 150 years. The glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising, the land is drying, forests are dying, and wildlife is scrambling to keep pace. 800 million people, that’s eleven percent of the world’s population, is currently vulnerable to climate change impacts such as droughts, floods, heatwaves, extreme weather events, and sea-level rise. The cause of all these problems is the human contribution to the greenhouse effect.
The greenhouse effect is the warming that happens when gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane in the earth's atmosphere trap heat. These gases let in light but keep heat from escaping. The more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the more heat gets locked in the atmosphere. Initially, emissions of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere have been balanced out by greenhouse gases that are naturally absorbed. As a result, greenhouse gas concentrations and temperatures have been fairly stable, which has allowed human civilization to flourish within a consistent climate. Without this phenomenon the earth's surface would be much cooler and hence inhabitable.
Humanity’s increased use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas to generate electricity, run cars and other forms of transport, and power manufacturing and industry, last lead to high levels of CO2 air pollution. 10 million hectares of land is deforested every year leaving fewer trees to absorb CO2 and mitigate its levels. Increasingly intensive agriculture has led to the overuse of fertilizers that release nitrous oxide and cattle farming releases methane as the Cows and Sheep digest their food. These are the direct causes of climate change while the overall reasons are overpopulation and overconsumption of the earth’s scarce resources.
Source: Science Board
Humans enhancing the greenhouse effect by continuing to add heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere is changing the rhythms of climate that all living things rely on. This leads to global warming and disruption of the functioning of many depending ecological systems. With the earth's remaining ice sheets starting to melt and rising sea levels, coastal habitats will flood, coastal tourism will stop and islands will submerge. As the mercury rises, the climate can change in unexpected ways. Weather can become more extreme leading to intense major storms, more rain followed by longer and drier droughts, a challenge for growing crops, and food security. With more mining and extraction of raw materials from the earth, to feed the growing trend of consumerism, the earth will not replenish its resources, leaving us hungry and without shelter in the future. As we continue to hurt our oceans with plastic, excess CO2, and overfishing, there will be more dying marine life, that absorbed most of the CO2 we produce. These changes in the habitats in which plants and animals live will lead to loss of biodiversity. These are just some of the impacts of climate change, as the world continues to move forwards without reforming its ways the climate will become more unpredictable. Country leaders, scientists, economists, or even environmentalists cannot prepare us enough to live in a world without the support of the natural systems. The change was needed yesterday but hopefully, today is not too late to start.