What do you know about climate change?

In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) demonstrated to the world that the climate system of our planet is indeed warming .

Climate change, as we know, has had a devastating effect in many regions of the world and we are well aware that Australia is no exception. So now I think it’s time to delve into the science behind climate change how we have arrived at our current stop on the road to an uninhabitable planet.

Earth’s climatic system is complex and involves interactions between the atmosphere; the land; snow and ice; the oceans; and other bodies of water [1]. Greenhouse gases (GHG), including carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapour, are naturally occurring gases in our planet’s atmosphere. Sources of Carbon include respiration (i.e. we breathe out carbon dioxide), burning of fossil fuels, forest fires and volcanic eruptions, and other methods of decay. If you have ever wandered why scientists say it is a bad thing to cut down the forests, its because trees take up CO2 during  process called photosynthesis and convert it to the oxygen (O2) that we breathe.

The greenhouse gases wrap around the Earth like a big blanket and only allow some of the radiation from the sun to get through. Some of the radiation (heat) is reflected back out to space and some remains keeping the planet much warmer than it would otherwise be.

Since the industrial revolution the layer of greenhouse gases. More heat is trapped and as a result, the planet is getting warmer. It was first noted by climatologists in the 1960’s and 70’s, that the CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere were increasing and that this increase in CO2 showed a pattern that related to increases in global temperatures [2]. We know that the Earth’s climate is a constantly changing phenomenon. What we didn’t know is that our lifestyle would effect irreversible changes to Earth’s climatic characteristics – starting a rollercoaster if highly influential events. The ultimate objective of the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is to reduce the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from their current upward trend to a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human-induced) effects. It is up to each country to take their part in the overall framework of effort.

Unlike most disciplines of science, where a hypothesis is formulated and tested and the results are the evidence to back the hypothesis or phenomenon, climate science is often untestable. for this reason, it is easy for skeptics to arise and make a claim which can sway those around them. It is probably evident by now that I believe that climate change, while a natural phenomenon, has been influenced by human activities resulting in a more rapid progression of events. The debate around climate change has been well documented in recent years and those who have an opinion are generally quite determined to remain within their view. However, I personally have noticed that while there are many out there who loudly voice their skepticism they do not provide any strong evidence to back it up.

1. IPCC 2007, ‘What factors determine Earth’s climate?’, IPCC Fouth Assessment Report

2. UNFCCC 2012, ‘How did we get here?’ Feeling the heat: climate science and the basis of the convention, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change


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