16 year old Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg made big waves while highlighting the dangers of climate change and also she put the blame of the issue on world leaders. She claimed that world leaders think about only money and are robbing the younger generation of their future. So, in light of that, this article is intended to propose a realistic methodology of fixing climate change.
However, before we try to fix the issue, we need to understand the issue.
“Climate change”, the word makes it clear, that it means the permanent changes that are occurring in the climate of Earth.
The most general definition of Climate Change can be ” the changes in statistical properties of meteorological (weather related) variables when considered over long duration of time.
However, the term is usually used for anthropogenic climate change, meaning the above mentioned changes in variables due to human activities.
Why is Climate Change Dangerous?
Planet Earth is the only planet containing life in solar system and probably beyond solar system, and that fact is for two reason mainly. One of them is that the Earth is in Goldilocks zone (optimum distance from sun) unlike any other planet, while the second reason is Earth’s Atmosphere.
Ozone layer is a shield in Earth’s stratosphere ( a layer of atmosphere) that protects us from being exposed to ultra-violet radiations from the sun which can cause skin-cancer and other diseases and also damage the overall existence of life in long run.
So, any change in Earth’s Climate directly damages the state of atmosphere (for example, the hole in ozone layer and melting of polar ice-caps) and thus can damage the chances of Earth staying habitable in the long run (Humans have been here for 66 million years, how much long run do we want?).
And if Earth does not stay the way it is, sooner or later it will become inhabitable for humans to live on and that’s why fixing climate change should be every person’s prime drive in his life.
Causes of Climate Change (Global Warming)
As mentioned above, the term “climate change” is used for anthropogenic climate change. So, that removes any natural cause (if there is any) out of equation.
So, the major cause of climate change is Global Warming.
Global Warming, as the name suggests is the increase in average temperature of Earth, which is due to another effect called Greenhouse Effect.
Greenhouse effect is the trapping of heat from the sun-light by greenhouse gases. This trapping stops the heat from being reflected back and thus results in overall increase of Earth’s temperature.
Some of the greenhouse gases do exist naturally in some quantities but human activities have vastly contributed to their concentration and natural gases become insignificant in comparison.
Some of common green-house gases are:
- Carbon Dioxide
- Nitrous Oxide
- Flourinated gases
64% of global warming is due to emission of carbon dioxide into atmosphere, 17% is by methane and nitrous oxide contributes to 6%.
The main causes of these emissions of greenhouse gases are:
- Fossil Fuels
The main reason are fossil fuels. Forests only act as repairing or correction mechanism for harmful outcomes of burning fossil fuels.
So, now that we know what climate change is and what causes it, let’s try to devise some logical ways to solve this issue, because after all we don’t want to go extinct.
Easy-Fix: Abandon the delights of Fossil Fuels
Burning of fossil fuels is the main reason for climate change. So, why do we burn them? To satisfy for electricity, for driving our vehicles, for cooking, for manufacturing purposes and more.
So, how do we fix that? Let’s just stop burning fossil fuels. Stop driving cars, abandon all factories, stop using stoves and above all stop using electricity and all the thousands of devices like computers and internet etc. that come with it. Let’s go back and live in medieval era.
How hard can it be? World was introduced to widespread use of electricity only in the beginning 20th century, and people have been living on Earth for thousands of years before that. So, surely, humans can live without electricity. Can we?
Well, it is a solution that can work but we all know we can’t just give up pleasures of fossil fuels.
Hard-Fix: Alternative Energy Sources
Now, this is the hard way of fixing climate change. Renewable energy sources can eliminate the need for burning fossil fuels. Instead of burning of coal and gas, use solar panels, hydroelectric plants and wind energy. Instead of vehicles running on petrol and gas, use electric cars. Instead of cooking on stoves that burn methane, eat oven cooked foods.
That would solve the problem right as all climate because all climate activists say so, right?
Well, saying that is easy, but doing that is very hard. And Climate activists should know that the world leaders are not burning fossil fuels just because they like it.
The reason is why alternative energy sources are hard fix is the cost of alternative energy sources.
COST COMPARISON OF ELECTRICITY FROM RENEWABLE AND FOSSIL FUEL:
Capital Cost of electricity generation is the cost of developing the infrastructure needed for production of electricity.
Now, that is only the capital cost, and even from that one can see that cost difference between renewables and non-renewables, as gas and oil is the least expensive.
Now, renewable sources do not have any fuel costs, and on top of that, they are also green energies.
But let’s face a hard truth, solar farms and wind turbines cost much more than gas driven power plants. So, if we switch over to renewables, electricity price will rise and then again public will start protesting against the people in charge (i am not supporting people in charge either, they are at fault too but so is the public).
On top of that, not every country can employ renewable green electricity because of factors out of their control.
Wind is only affordable economically if it is installed on coastal areas, and not every country has coasts.
Hydro-electricity needs rivers and not just rivers, rivers in hilly areas and again not every country has those.
Solar is easy fix for that problem but it costs a lot of money because solar technology is not that much developed yet.
And not to forget, what about all the greenhouses gases that have already been emitted to atmosphere? Even if we switch to renewable right now, that much gases are still going to be there. As Michael Shellenberger explained in this TED talk that only renewables can no longer save the world any longer.
For that, carbon capture is the solution which is an emerging technology and unsurprisingly, it also costs a lot of money.
Switching to renewables is not an easy way of fixing climate change, thats for sure.
I don’t want to sound hopeless, but in order to fix climate change, we have to start letting our sweet sweet cash leave our wallets.
Also, electric cars if used instead of normal cars, need electricity too, so demand of electricity will also rise more and thus overall cost will go up even more. And electric cars also have higher price tags than normal cars.
Our entire manufacturing industry runs on fossil fuels, so by switching to alternative sources, prices of every industrial product will also increase.
So, if we really want to solve this issue, we got pay a lot of money.
But the question is again, is the general public willing to pay the high bills and prices of daily-use products 100 times higher than they are paying now?
If YES, Voilà! Problem solved.
In 21st century, it is a white truth that humans and industrialization is the cause of climate change, as evident from this graph below from ourworldindata.org. Just notice the huge spike upwards starting from 1850s.
So, what are we going to do about it?
Logical and humane thing to do is to stop blaming each other for this problem and start working towards a green future together. It can only happen if all of the countries of world, developed and developing gather under a same panel and instead of thinking as nations, should start thinking and working as a specie, because global warming does not differentiate between American and Chinese, or Pakistani or Indian.
Yes, we all would have to suffer financially a lot, but if life itself is being threatened, all other pleasures and luxuries become meaningless in face of that.
Or we can go live in pre-industrial world once again with no cars, no electricity, no industry.
And this much is confirmed that there is no third option. So, keep going on whatever we do and ignore this problem will only result in extinction of homo sapiens.
So, what will be your contribution to campaign of fixing climate change? Leave your comments below