Climate Change: Causes, Effects, and Solutions

Climate Change: Causes, Effects, and Solutions

Climate Change: Causes, Effects, and Solutions

Climate Change: Causes, Effects, and Solutions

Synopsis

Human-induced climate change is a serious concern, drawing increasing attention from the media, policy makers and citizens around the world. This comprehensive and thought-provoking volume explains in easily understandable language the potential effects of climate change on our planet and our lives.

Climate Change: Causes, Effects and Solutions examines the latest scientific findings without any advanced technical knowledge. It goes beyond a description of changes in the physical environment to consider the broader issues of ecological, economic and human effects of climate change.

The book explains:

  • the causes and effects of climate change from a natural and human environment perspective.
  • mitigation options and policies that could reduce the impacts of climate change.
  • global impacts - with case studies are taken from North America, Europe, Australasia and elsewhere.

Essential reading for undergraduates and general readers who want to heighten their knowledge and understanding of this important problem.

Excerpt

β€œThe greenhouse effect is the most significant economic,
political, environmental and human problem facing the 21st Century.”

Timothy Wirth, former US Senator and Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs

Unprecedented changes in climate are taking place. If we continue on our present course, life on Earth will be inextricably altered. The very sustainability of the Earth's life-support system is now in question. How did we arrive at this pivotal point in our history?

For millennia, the Earth's climate remained little changed. Early humans thrived, living on an abundance of plants and animals, some of which they domesticated for their own use. They cooked their food and warmed their dwellings largely with wood. This wood was the product of photosynthesis - the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and its conversion to living organic matter. Burning the wood returned this same quantity of carbon to the atmosphere. Human activities had little more than local impacts. Natural changes occurred in the Earth's climate, but they were gradual, occurring over tens of thousands to millions of years.

Suddenly, 200 years ago, things began to change. Modern medicine and improvements in technology led to a human population explosion. Ninety-nine percent of all human beings who ever lived are alive today. At the same time, fossil fuel (first coal, and then oil and gas) became the energy source of choice - facilitating rapid industrialization and further fossil-fuel consumption. Unlike wood, the carbon in fossil fuel was slowly formed from decaying plants millions of years ago and was stored in the Earth's crust. Its burning over the past 150 years has increased the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide by 33%. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the lower atmosphere, keeping our planet warm. However, like many things in nature, a little is good, but more is not necessarily better.

If we continue our heavy dependence on fossil fuel, we will double the preindustrial atmosphere's carbon dioxide level in a few decades and perhaps triple it by the end of this century. As a consequence, by most estimates, the planet will rapidly warm to a level never experienced by human beings. There will be consequences. In our hurried modern lives, we forget that our welfare is still closely linked . . .

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