Major causes of climate change and how can we reverse climate change

Often we keep hearing the term 'Climate Change'. Every now and then, there are summits to address climate change, and world leaders promise concrete action to tackle this.

But have you ever wondered what exactly is climate change? 🤔

Climate change is used to denote the changes in Earth's climate, which are usually long-term. It includes changes in temperature, precipitation, and extreme weather events, caused by activities such as deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels.

Climate change affects everyone, developed or developing nations, rich or poor; everyone feels its pain. A report on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) website shows that Earth has witnessed a 1.1°C increase in temperature since 1850-1900. It also warns that unless and until large-scale steps are not taken immediately then, limiting global warming will become extremely challenging.

There are numerous human activities responsible for climate change. Let's take a look at 5 reasons for climate change that are significant and hard to ignore:

1. Rapid Urbanisation

For the first time in 2007, the number of people living in urban areas exceeded those living in rural areas, and there has been no looking back since then.

As of 2020, globally, 4.36 bn people lived in cities compared to 3.40 bn in rural areas. Urbanisation leads to rapid construction and changing consumer habits like increased usage of resources. All these combined contribute significantly to climate change.

Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (GlobalABC) report highlights that just buildings and the construction industry contributed 38% of global energy-related CO2 emissions.

2. Deforestation

How deforestation causes climate change and what is the impact of deforestation on climate change

Forests are axed constantly for newer agricultural areas, grazing pastures, or to build new cities. It is estimated we lose 10 million hectares of forests each year! To put it in perspective, this is approximately the size of countries like Portugal and Hungary!

But how does deforestation causes climate change?

  • Trees absorb greenhouse gases (GHGs). When we cut them, we are limiting Earth's ability to absorb excess GHGs, thereby warming the planet.
  • Once we axe a tree, it releases the carbon it has stored all these years back into the atmosphere. If the felled tree is burnt, then it is even more problematic as it leads to more emissions.

It is estimated that deforestation alone causes 10% of global emissions!

3. Burning Fossil Fuel

How fossil fuel combustion leads to climate change and what is the impact of fossil fuel combustion on climate change

It is another major cause of climate change. In the US, greenhouse emission due to fossil fuel combustion is around 72.6% of all emissions. Globally, the statistics aren't any better either; fossil fuels contribute 75% to greenhouse gas emissions on a global level!

Within fossil fuels, the following types contribute the most to global CO2 emission:

  • Coal - 45%
  • Oil - 35%
  • Gas - 20%

4. Electricity Generation from Non-Renewable Sources & Industrialisation

Of all the electricity generated globally, over 60% comes from non-renewable sources like coal, gas, and oil. Being fossil fuels, they add to global greenhouse emissions, thereby further accelerating climate change.

Despite best efforts, the contribution of renewable sources is still low globally; however, rising rapidly. As of 2021, 6.65% of electricity was generated from wind and 3.68% from solar. What's promising is that multiple cities globally aim to reduce their carbon footprint and become highly efficient, eco-friendly cities.

Industrialisation is another cause of climate change. Almost all kinds of industries, be it cement, plastic, fashion, metals, etc., cause pollution.

What's worse about industrial pollution is that it also pollutes our water and soil, in addition to releasing greenhouse gases. Industries contribute over 14% of all greenhouse gas emissions, and some sectors like iron & steel, cement, and chemicals are known to be amongst the worst polluters.

5. Transportation

Another major cause of climate change, it contributes over 14% to global greenhouse emissions. All forms of transportation, including via road, air, and water, falls into this category.

A rise in eco-friendly bikes and eco-friendly cars can significantly lower emissions from transportation. Complete electric vehicles have zero tailpipe emissions, making them a much better option for our planet.

Can You Make An Impact?

A cry for survival comes from the planet itself. A cry that can't be any more desperate or any more clear.

US President Joseph R. Biden

Your individual action, no doubt, will be small. It may even seem insignificant, but ultimately it matters.

  • Your decision to avoid wasting food may save our forests.
  • Your decision to walk frequently instead of taking that carbon-emitting vehicle matters.
  • Your decision to utilise resources judiciously and use them to their fullest matters.

Go green should not just be a slogan but rather a way of life. Choose electric vehicles over those that run on fossil fuels, choose sustainable fashion over fast fashion, and in all walks of life, where you can go green, embrace it.

Our government and several eco-friendly companies are increasingly doing their bit to combat climate change, but you, as an individual, can also make an impact, and your action ultimately does matter.