Understanding Climate Change: Fact Sheet

Photo by Rachel Sparling

Climate change is a huge topic right now, as it should be, but all the information can be a little overwhelming and hard to understand. Let these facts and terms, compiled by Acadia Talks, help you navigate your way through understanding our future living with climate change.

Climate Mitigation: efforts to reduce or prevent emission of greenhouse gases (new technologies, renewable energy, improving efficiency, or changing management practices or consumer behavior)

*Climate Adaptation: adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic effects

*During the end Permian mass extinction event (252mya) there was a global temperature rise of 6°C. The environmental implications eradicated 90% of the species on Earth.

-At COP16, countries promised a $100 billion/year Green Climate Fund for 2020 through 2025 to help developing countries to adapt to climate change (although specific contributions have not been established)

-As temperatures increase, tropical diseases will spread to new areas as the range of carrier organisms expands (MosquitosàMalaria)

-Rising seas means coastal infrastructure will need to adapt (Ex. Confederation bridge (NBàPEI) needs to be raised so ships can still fit)

  • This threatens roughly 1 billion people in coastal cities around the world (What could this mean for mass-relocations?)

-Genetically Modified Crops are one possible solution to world hunger (drought resistant, pest resistant, higher yield) but potential unintended consequences on ecosystems cloud public opinion

-One unconventional solution to desertification could be herding massive groups of livestock to simulate mass migration of grazers.

-From 1980-2014, land fall tropical cyclones caused $545 billion in damages (avg. cost of $16 billion per event). Drought caused $213 billion, severe storms $156 billion and inland flooding $89 billion

-Climate Change effects have been shown to lead to political instability and conflict

Four IPCC Climate Scenarios to 2100

RCP 2.6: Global annual GHG emissions (peak between 2010-2020, with emissions declining substantially thereafter (Avg. temp rise 0.3 – 0.9°C)

RCP 4.5: Emissions assumed to peak around 2040, then decline (Avg. temp rise 1.1 – 2.9 °C)

RCP 6: Emissions peak around 2080, then decline (Avg. temp rise 1.7 – 4.4°C)

RCP 8.5: Emissions continue to rise throughout the 21st century (Avg. temp rise 2.0 – 5.4°C or more)

 

Geoengineering/Climate Engineering: deliberate, large-scale intervention in the Earth’s climatic system with aim of limiting adverse climate change. (extent of effects still unknown, more research and $$$ needed)

  1. Solar radiation management – reduce sunlight absorbed by deflecting sunlight away from the Earth, or by increasing the reflectivity (albedo) of the atmosphere or the Earth’s surface. (Ex. marine cloud brightening, which would spray fine sea water to whiten clouds and thus increase cloud reflectivity, stratospheric sulfate aerosols, obstructing solar radiation with space-based mirrors, dust, etc.)
  • Would produce quick results and comparatively low implementation costs. (Note: does NOT reduce greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, and thus would NOT address problems such as the ocean acidification)
  1. Carbon Dioxide Removal – remove CO2 from the atmosphere via afforestation, using technology to remove carbon dioxide from ambient air, iron fertilization of oceans, use of biochar (which can improve water quality, increase soil fertility, raise agricultural productivity, and reduce pressure on forests), create artificial upwelling’s in oceans to stimulate surface productivity

 

Discussion questions:

Should we be taking steps now as a globe to research and implement global geo engineering techniques to alter the global climate and reduce heating?

  • What are the pros and cons and how should we do it? Is it ethical?

Should developed (industrialized) countries feel an obligation to help poorer countries deal with climate change?

What role do you see Climate Change playing in the stability of future international politics?

What are some ways you think humanity will benefit from learning to tackle and live with Climate Change?

Do you enjoy discussing world events? Then join Acadia Talks!!

We are a club that meets every 2 weeks on Tuesday evenings to have an open, round-table discussion about important global issues.

When/where? 6-8pm in the KCIC seminar room (More details posted on Facebook before each talk https://www.facebook.com/AcadiaTalks)

Add us on Facebook or contact Luke at [email protected] for info

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