Lima conference on climate change has once again brought climate change to the attention of entire world.
What is climate change?
The climate of the planet has been changing over a period. The present average global temperature of 15C is estimated to be much higher compared to that in the past. A normal fluctuation is normal, but the warming of the globe in the recent past has been at a much swift pace, mainly because of human induced reasons. This has the power to overturn the stability of the climate of the earth. The average temperature of the globe increased by 0.8C in the last 100 years, of this 0.6C has been in the last 30 years. This is really an alarm signal. Average increase in sea levels as a result of melting of glaciers is a clear indication that the temperature is going up.
Climate change and green house effect: What is the relation?
Water vapour, Carbon-dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4),nitrous oxide (N2O) and ozone are the major constituents of greenhouse gases.
Green house effect is the process by which thermal radiation from the earth is absorbed by these gases and re-radiated in different directions. Part of this radiation is towards the earth surface itself. This increases the temperature of lower atmosphere and the earth surface. Had the presence of greenhouse gas not been there, the temperature of the globe would have been lower by around 30C making it uninhabitable. Thus the presence of green house gases is essential for human survival, but when the presence is more than required, it leads to negative effects.
With the progress in the fields of industry and agriculture and with increase in the number of vehicles being used, generation more green house gases is taking place. Methane and carbon dioxide are the major gases thus generated. Naturally also, these gases are generated, but due to human causes, the pace of generation has increased substantially. As the presence of greenhouse gases increases, more heat gets trapped in the atmosphere leading to higher temperature.
What are the future impacts of climate changes?
Scientists have not so far succeeded in accurately predicting the impact. It is estimated that climate changes may lead to drinking water scarcity, changes in weather and food production conditions. Severe floods, droughts, storms and heat waves are other expected outcomes. The impact will be more on poorer countries as they are unable to cope up with the drastic changes or disasters arising from climate change.
Climate change: Major past developments
French physicist Joseph Fourier was the first to mention about greenhouse effect in 1824. In 1975, US scientist Wallace Broecker in his research paper mentioned the term global warming for the first time. In 1987, Montreal Protocol agreed for control of chemicals that damage the ozone layer. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was formed in 1988 to study and collect data on climate change. Kyoto Protocol of 1997 made developed nations to pledge to reduce emissions by an average 5% by 2008-12. By 2006, carbon emissions from fossil fuel reached eight billion tonnes per year and in 2011global human population crossed seven billion. In 2013, the IPCC's report pointed out that it is 95% certain that humans are the "dominant cause" of global warming.
Lima conference on climate change and the outcome.
194 countries participated in the summit held in December 2014 in Lima, Peru, . According to poor countries, their developed counterparts are the major contributors for the effect and they continue to accuse rich nations for not taking enough steps to control global warming. The arguments and counter arguments continue, but the good news is that UN members reached an agreement to tackle climate change, after stop less discussions of 48 hours.
The agreement restored a promise to poorer countries that a "loss and damage" scheme would be worked out to manage the financial implications of rising temperatures. It is proposed to have an ambitious agreement in 2015 taking care of “differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities" of each nation.
The agreement has not lived up to the expectations of Environmental groups. But something is better than nothing and let us hope that it becomes the first step in right direction.