“Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively and stop procrastinating…..Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted.” Yes, I am aware that you know these were the words of Leonardo DiCaprio when he won his first Oscar (Yayiiiee :D).
How often do people from every nook and corner of the world rejoice over another man’s achievements and awards? Well, we all witnessed it on Sunday when Leo won the Oscar for the best actor. It is also extremely rare that a man chooses to share his moments of glory with the world, to throw light on an issue that affects each one of us.
What is Climate Change?
Climate change is a change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns when that change lasts for an extended period of time (i.e., decades to millions of years). The term climate change is often synonymously linked to global warming. However, global warming refers to an increase in the surface temperature while climate change includes global warming and everything else that will be affected by the increasing greenhouse gas levels.
How do we know climate change is happening?
Sea Level Rise: Global sea level rose 6.7 inches in the last century. The rate has doubled in the past decade.
Global Temperature Rise: Warming of the Earth’s surface has mostly occurred since the 1970s, and 2015 has been recorded as the hottest year till date.
Extreme Events: The number of record high temperature events around the world have been increasing, while the number of record low temperature events have decreased.
Warming Oceans: Top 700 meters of oceans have shown warming of 0.302 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969.
Shrinking ice sheets/Glacial Retreat: The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have decreased considerably in mass. Glaciers are retreating almost everywhere around the world — including those in the Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, Alaska, and Africa.
How are WE Responsible?
It is true that natural factors play a crucial role in the climate change we feel over extended periods of time. However, human activities have greatly expedited the process of global warming and eventually climate change. The causes for this undesired change are majorly two:
Deforestation: The ruthless cutting of trees and destruction of major forest areas around the world have impacted the environment deeply. Not only do such activities increase the levels of carbon dioxide, but, also turns the inland forest land into unproductive wasteland.
Altering the Natural Greenhouse: Unwarranted and endless burning of fossil fuels has caused great imbalance in the natural greenhouse. It has been concluded by scientists that human-produced greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide have caused much of the observed increase in the Earth’s temperatures over the past 50 years.
What is the Impact of Climate Change?
Higher Temperatures: The future is bound to witness exceedingly high temperatures due to the increase in greenhouse gases.
Increased Power of Storms: Many research studies have stressed much upon the widespread destructions that storms (such as hurricanes, earthquakes) may cause, as their power will increase manifold with rise in temperatures.
More Heat Waves/Droughts: Rising temperatures will also result in increased number of heat waves in the world, and droughts affecting wider agricultural land areas.
Increased sea level: With rapid melting of snow and retreating glaciers, the sea levels will keep rising at a disturbing rate. This will also result in an increase in events such as tsunami.
Wildlife at risk: As various life yielding forests get targeted and temperatures keep rising, wildlife keeps getting pushed towards the threshold of extinction.
Heat Related Illness: With the increasing heat, another thing that we need to worry about will be the illnesses that will accompany it.
How we can contribute?
Being an average human with little power, we often find ourselves helpless in such scenarios. Individuals have regularly pointed out that they wish to work for a better environment, however, they aren’t sure of how they can help. Well here are a few small steps that can actually make a huge difference.
Be Informed: First and foremost, it is very important that we educate ourselves on the matter. The more we are able to understand the phenomenon, the more we can contribute in making things better.
Make Changes at Home/Work: It isn’t feasible to step out and make a drastic change overnight, but one can always start from little changes made at home and the workplace. These can be as small as using bulbs (CFLs) that emit lesser amount of greenhouse gases and consume less energy. At work, you can ensure you switch off the computers and other electrical and electronic devices while leaving the office.
Reduce Emission in Transit: The pollution caused by vehicles on the road is one of the major pollutants of air at the moment. This can be greatly reduced if everybody does their bit. You should try and use more public transport, encourage carpooling, and buy cars that have a lower emission rate compared to others.
Spread the Word: It is of utmost importance, to also inform and educate others about climate change. The more number of people are aware, the stronger will be the impact. It should ultimately turn into a movement, and only then will we be able to see drastic improvements in our environment.
We truly adore Leo for his work, and for working so tirelessly on this sensitive issue. We also adore our planet, and it is time we join hands to SAVE EARTH!