When the winter is very warm without any snow, many people like to say, it’s probably because of climate change. There is a lot of truth behind it, however, still, it’s used as a naive phrase to describe the reason for warm winters we have had in the past (especially in Germany).
But what does this mean? Why is it important to take climate change seriously?
The change in climate has been happening forever. In the last 650,00 years, there have been several cycles of glacial advance and retreat, all ending with the last ice age about 11,700 years ago, which marked the beginning of human civilization.
Some may say that the situation we are currently facing regarding climate change is just another similar phase. Nevertheless, the current warming trend is much more significant than before because 95% of it has been caused by human activity since the mid-20th century. The rate in which the climate is changing is unprecedented over decades to millennia.
So what is climate change exactly and what is it affected by?
Climate change in IPCC usage refers to a change in the state of the climate that can be identified by changes in the average variability of its properties. It persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer. It considers any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity.
Climate change causes the rise of temperature worldwide . The average temperature on earth is approximately 15 degrees Celsius but has been much higher and lower in the past. This change of temperature is linked to the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect describes a natural process that warms the Earth’s surface. When the Sun’s energy reaches the Earth’s atmosphere, some of it is reflected back to space and the rest is absorbed and re-radiated into all directions by greenhouse gases. This process maintains the Earth's average temperature, and ultimately allows life to exist. Greenhouse gases include water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone and some artificial chemicals. CO2 emissions play an important role when it comes to climate change since they can stay in the atmosphere much longer, up to years. Most man-made emissions of CO2 come from burning fossil fuel, for example, transportation, shipping and electricity. Also, agriculture contributes to CO2 emissions, as well as forestry.
Since the Industrial Revolution, CO2 levels have risen more than 30%, making the concentration in the atmosphere higher than at any time in the last 800,000 years.
But, how exactly is the change in climate and the rise of CO2 emissions affecting us?
How does climate change affect us now and in the future?
One of the effects of climate change is the temperature rise. According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the 20 warmest years that have ever been recorded have been in the last 22 years.
2020 is set to be the warmest year on record, according to NASA.
The warmer temperatures will also affect our health by, not only causing pollen season to be longer, but also by worsening air quality and causing more people to suffer from heat cramps, heat exhaustion and high body temperature.
Besides this, other effects are the warming oceans, shrinking of ice sheets, decrease in snow cover and rise of the sea level. The rapidly changing high and low temperatures have resulted in numerous weather events in the US and other countries. A study in 2018 has shown that over 40 million Americans are at risk of flooding from rivers, and over 8.6 million people live in areas that already experience coastal flooding from storm surges during hurricanes.
What can we do?
The IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5C, says that we are currently not on track to meet this goal, but rather heading towards 3C.
The report says there are four big global systems that need to change, which are energy, land use, cities and industry. However, they add that there is individual change needed too, in order to meet its targets.
Changing our lifestyle is one of the key factors and it can include our diet, shopping behaviours, consuming more sustainably, changing our means of transportation and much more.
Changing our daily habits can not only help prevent the effects of climate change but also gives us the opportunity to realise one’s power and see what we, as individuals can change. “You might say you don't have control over land use, but you do have control over what you eat and that determines land use,” says Dr Debra Roberts, the IPCC's other co-chair on the BBC.
We know that habits are hard to change, but it will have an important long term effect. By acting now and together, we can minimise the impacts of climate change, as well as contribute to a stable future for people and the planet.
How does Kleiderly contribute?
At Kleiderly, we are keeping clothing waste away from landfills and incinerators, which contribute to climate change. With this, we help to give unused resources a new life and reduce the fashion’s environmental footprint.