Climate Facts

Climate Change

Sustainable Agriculture Service
Climate Facts

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time, affecting every aspect of life on Earth. But what are the facts behind the headlines? Here are some key points to know about climate and how it is changing.

-> Climate is the long-term pattern of weather in a particular area, usually tracked for at least 30 years. Weather can change from hour-to-hour, day-to-day, month-to-month or even year-to-year, but climate is the average of these variations over time.

-> Climate is determined by a region's climate system, which has five major components:

the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the cryosphere, the land surface, and the biosphere. These components interact with each other and influence the flow of energy and matter on Earth.

->Human activity, especially greenhouse gas emissions, is considered the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. Greenhouse gases trap and absorb solar energy in the atmosphere, causing the Earth to heat up.

->The effects of climate change are already visible in many parts of the world. These include: rising sea levels, shrinking mountain glaciers, accelerating ice melt in Greenland, Antarctica and the Arctic, shifts in flower and plant blooming times, more frequent and intense heatwaves, droughts, floods, storms, wildfires, and changes in biodiversity and ecosystems.

->The impacts of climate change are not evenly distributed across regions and populations. The most vulnerable and marginalized communities are likely to suffer the most from the adverse consequences of climate change, such as food insecurity, water scarcity, displacement, conflict, and poverty.

->The science is clear: we need to act urgently and collectively to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, as agreed by the Paris Agreement in 2015. This requires a rapid and profound transformation of our energy, transport, industry, agriculture, and land use systems.

Climate change is not a distant threat; it is happening now and affecting us all. We have the knowledge and the solutions to tackle this challenge; what we need is the will and the action.

Carbon Emissions

Carbon emissions
Carbon Emissions

Carbon emissions also known as greenhouse gas emissions, refer to the release of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases into the Earth's atmosphere. These emissions are primarily the result of human activities, particularly the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. The process of carbon emissions involves several steps:

1. Fossil Fuel Extraction: The first step in the carbon emission process is the extraction of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas from the Earth's crust. This involves activities like mining, drilling, and fracking.

2. Fossil Fuel Combustion: The primary source of carbon emissions is the combustion or burning of fossil fuels for various purposes. This includes burning coal in power plants, gasoline and diesel in transportation, and natural gas in residential and industrial sectors. Combustion releases carbon dioxide (CO2) as a byproduct, along with other greenhouse gases such as methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O).

3. Industrial Processes: Some industrial processes, such as cement production, steel manufacturing, and chemical production, also contribute to carbon emissions. These processes release CO2 as a byproduct of chemical reactions, primarily from the decomposition of limestone and fossil fuel combustion in kilns.

4. Deforestation: Another significant contributor to carbon emissions is deforestation. When forests are cleared for agriculture, logging, or urbanization, the carbon stored in trees and vegetation is released into the atmosphere. Trees act as "carbon sinks," absorbing and storing CO2 through the process of photosynthesis. When they are cut down, the stored carbon is released back into the environment.

5. Land Use Changes: Other land use changes, such as conversion of natural ecosystems to croplands or urban areas, also release carbon stored in vegetation and soils. These changes often involve the removal of plant biomass and disruption of carbon storage mechanisms, leading to increased carbon emissions.

6. Waste Management: Certain waste management practices, particularly the decomposition of organic waste in landfills, produce methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas. Methane emissions from landfills can be reduced through practices such as gas capture and utilization.

7. International Transport: International transportation, including aviation and shipping, contributes to carbon emissions. These sectors use fossil fuels and release greenhouse gases during combustion, contributing to global carbon emissions.

It is important to note that carbon emissions have detrimental effects on the Earth's climate system and contribute to global warming and climate change. To address this issue, efforts are underway to decrease carbon emissions through various means, such as transitioning to renewable energy sources, improving energy efficiency, promoting sustainable land use practices, and implementing policies like carbon pricing and emissions trading systems.