Climate Change? What is Actually the Problem?

Catalina Dobre

3/1/20214 min read

I am reading lately more and more articles on Climate Change, and, at the same time, I am trying to understand why the message fails to reach the audience.

''It is not true, because it doesn't affect me!'', it's the main approach. But Climate Change is a problem that affects us individually and all together, and even though we don't see the effects in our crowded metropolises, the changes are affecting the poor regions and the wild parts of the Planet.

What is Climate Change?

Climate Change can't be described with a definition. It involves a wide range of changes brought to the planet by human evolution, in principle by accelerated industrialization in the last 100 years. United Nations is addressing Climate Change as follows:

Climate Change is the defining issue of our time and we are at a defining moment. From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale.

Think about the fact that the Earth has the same basic needs as a human being. A person needs to breathe, the Earth needs to breathe too. A person needs to eat, the Earth needs food too. A person needs to sleep, the Earth needs recovery too. Of course, the Earth is carrying out these processes in a different way.

By breathing the Earth is producing different types of gases, one of them being oxygen, the gas we need for breathing. And the planet's lungs are all the green places we can find (i.e.: forests, parks). But also the ocean has a significant influence on the concentrations of gases in the atmosphere.

By eating, the Earth has its own system of returning natural fertilizers into the ground, thus making fertile soil. When animals die and their carcasses decompose, the soil absorbs their minerals and nutrients, increasing the growth of the plants, thus playing an important role in the well functioning of biodiversity.

By sleeping, the Earth has its own regenerating system, and we see it with each season, starting in autumn when the natural fertilizer is returned to the soil, and in spring when nature starts to revive.

So, what about Climate Change?

We are all hearing about Greenhouse Gas Emissions and how these are affecting the weather and the warmth of the planet. But greenhouse gasses are a natural and essential action foreseen by the Earth for the survival of all living, by keeping the heat of the sun from reflecting into space. Otherwise, the planet would be a big frozen place.

So greenhouse gases are actually important for keeping the Earth warm and making life possible.

Probably you remember this picture studied in primary school. This represents the Carbon Cycle in nature. Previously I mentioned that the Earth is producing different gases in the atmosphere. One of them is CO2 or Carbon Dioxide, a natural gas, and the most abundant greenhouse gas. Plants, organisms, animals, and the ocean, all contribute to the CO2 Cycle in nature, as described by the examples above.

Carbon Cycle in Nature

So, where is the problem? Well, the problem is that since the Industrial Revolution the level of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, especially CO2, has increased constantly, together with the global temperatures.

So you might say ''But this is normal, no? If it happens since 1760, why such a big thing now?''. Well, just to create a picture, in the last century, the quantities of gas emissions in the atmosphere have increased to high levels, not seen in three million years. Through industrialization we have added extra gas emissions to these cycles, unbalancing the common cycle of nature.

So yes, it is normal to happen, but the problem is that it's happening to an accelerated level than before. If we can't control the gas emissions in the atmosphere, the planet is not able to follow its natural course, which will result sooner or later in an unliveable Earth. You are now able to breathe because of this natural system, but future generations might not be so lucky if we don't make a change.

What can we do?

The main factors for this phenomenon are industrialization, deforestation, and large-scale agriculture. As populations, cities, and standards of living grow, so do the greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. Factories, planes, cars, and expanded urbanism, all contribute to the increase of CO2 levels. And of course, that doesn't mean that we have to give up on everything and take drastic measures, but we can learn how to switch to more sustainable resources for keeping all these industries and the planet alive.

For example, in the auto industry, we can start developing the infrastructure for electric cars, and turn ourselves to alternative ways of commuting, like bicycles. We can start replanting the forests and green places. We can make more spaces for parks than building an extra shopping centre. We can start cleaning the oceans and preserve the natural resources which are not unlimited. We can stop killing the Earth's wildness and protect endangered species.

Think about that we, as consumers, have the power to control the demand on the market, and to decide when something is too much, harmful, or not necessary. We can start the change by taking small steps for great achievement.

And worldwide seems like people, private companies, and governments are starting to tackle the effect of climate change by taking some effective measures. But the change is still slow and cumbersome, compared with the environmental alterations. That's why it needs more!

From a legal perspective, two important tools are aiming to tackle the effects of climate change: The Paris Agreement and the Kyoto Protocol. In 2020, the studies showed that more than 50 world-leading cities from countries parties to the Paris Agreement, focused on limiting the global temperature increase to 1,5 degrees Celsius, are on track to meet this objective.

The change can start from all of us, and we live in an era where technology can be on our side in this fight. If it doesn't affect you right now, doesn't mean it's not real and it's not happening. The soil, the plants, the animals, the Earth, they can all feel the effects of climate change, and remember, they were here first!