The Malta Independent 25 October 2020, Sunday

Crackers: Climate Change

Malta Independent Thursday, 12 October 2006, 00:00 Last update: about 8 years ago

We hear a lot about climate, global warming and the greenhouse effect. Scientists warn us that climate change is the cause of hurricanes and droughts – disasters that are causing a lot of deaths in today’s world. Can we stop climate change? Yes we can!

What is Climate?

Our planet’s climate is changing and the world is getting hotter. The heat is melting ice in the North and South Poles. As the melting ice turns into water, sea levels rise and many places on Earth may become buried under the sea. Natural disasters, disease, famine can be by-products of the changing climate. The Earth’s health is at risk which means our own habitats, well-being and lives are also at risk. We must work together to stop climate change.

What does climate mean?

The world climate describes average weather conditions in a given place over a long period of time. Different regions of the world are characterised by different climate conditions or weather patterns. For example, it is generally cold in London during the winter season but warmer in the summer.

Greenhouse gases

The main greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide. These gases are naturally occurring in the atmosphere, but increased beyond the regular levels through burning more fossil fuels.

Plants can rid the atmosphere of CO2. But not only are we producing more carbon dioxide than plants can consume, we are also cutting trees and forests. This means more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and less plants to consume it.

Global warming

Greenhouse gases trap heat and radiation from the sun in the atmosphere causing the temperature of the Earth to rise. This is called global warming or greenhouse effect.

Four thousands of years the Earth’s atmosphere has fluctuated but still maintained a delicate balance. This balance allowed humans, animals and plants to survive. Today, we are having problems keeping this balance. Global temperature is expected to rise by an average of 2°C by the year 2100.

A world at risk

The effect of global warming is evident at the Poles more than anywhere else where many areas are warming at a rate two or three times the global average. Melting ice caps and glaciers can cause sea levels to rise. This means some places may be buried under the sea. Tuvalu islands in the South Pacific, for example, are slowly drowning. The highest place above sea level is only four metres high.

Can we stop climate change? Yes we can!

Climate change affects the entire globe. Developed and developing countries are working together to find solutions to climate change.

In June 1992, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) was signed by 154 countries. They agreed to stabilise the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at levels that won’t cause harm. In December 1997, in Kyoto, 160 industrialised nations developed an international agreement on climate change called the Kyoto Protocol.

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