What are the effects of climate change and what can you do to help
Criodán talks about the effects of climate change and what you can do in your daily life to help make a difference
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This is part two of Criodan's series on climate change. Click here to see part one.
In the short term, you may not notice the effects of climate change. However, since your parents and grandparents were born the earth's temperature has risen by 0.8 degrees celsius, sea levels have continued to rise, and severe storms have become more common on our little island.
Increase in Temperatures
Due to the greenhouse effect, the earth's temperature continues to rise. 2014-2017 were the top four hottest years since records began. This increasing temperature has many effects such as causing the ice-caps to melt, sea levels to rise, and will affect crop production and lead to more droughts in regions susceptible to them.
Sea Level Rise
Sea levels have risen and the ice caps in the Arctic and Antarctic are melting. As the earth's temperature rises, the ice melts and this meltwater enters the seas. This has the knock-on effect of altering the amount of salt in the oceans. This has a drastic effect on ocean life.
Algae, for example, cannot tolerate salt levels above 10,000 mg/L which means diversity would be seriously impacted if salt levels reach this level. Plants, on the other hand, can only tolerate salt levels up to 1,000 mg/L before their growth and reproduction is impaired.
Sea levels rising will also cause forced migration of people to lands higher above sea level. A great tool to see this in action is globalfloodmap.org/ireland. Here you can see that if sea levels were to rise by just 18 inches, almost half a million people will be displaced due to flooding.
Hurricanes often start off the coast of West Africa, where warm water near the equator and high humidity create columns of rapidly rising rotating air. It's the perfect formula for a storm. In the past it was difficult for storms to reach Ireland and Europe because they would lose energy as they travelled and the wind systems near Europe would keep them away from us.
Now hurricanes are picking up warm, moist air which makes the storms even stronger. As the water is getting warmer and warmer, the storms can build up more energy, enough to reach Ireland and Europe. You may remember Storm Ophelia which occurred in October of 2017. It was the worst storm to hit Ireland in over fifty years, dealing millions of euro worth of damage, leaving hundreds of thousands without electricity and caused three deaths. If the sea temperature continues to rise, it is estimated that we will see up to thirteen storms a year by the end of this century, compared to the 1-2 storms a year currently.
However, not all hope is lost just yet. We still have time to act. Some solutions and things we need to do are:
Vote and elect politicians willing to challenge climate change
This point may be the most important. If you are 18 and over, please register to vote and make sure you get out and vote. Vote for politicians willing to do something about climate change. Challenge them on their policies and solutions to this ever-growing problem. Contact your local TDs. Ask them what they are doing to help fight climate change. Challenge the government to find new solutions to peat burning for electricity production.
The government needs to stop dragging its’ heels and slowly enacting change. We can’t go backwards with our climate. We have to prevent this disaster now.
Change our diets to a more plant-based diet
One hamburger is the equivalent of almost 50 five minute showers. Think about how much water you use on a daily basis. Cows also release a lot of methane which is a greenhouse gas. Try to cut down on red meat and animal produce in general. Almond milk takes around 50% less water to produce as cow's milk.
Use your power as a consumer
Buy from companies who really care about the environment. Some companies will try to make us think that they have green practices, so make sure to do some research. If companies don’t offer environmentally friendly products/services, don’t use them. And better yet, contact the company to say you’re not using them for those reasons. Companies will listen to their consumers and change their ways.
Think about what you use on a daily basis
Use renewable energy and resources, use energy efficient lightbulbs, carpool, public transport, etc
Renewable energy is energy that does not cause the same environmental impact as non-renewable energy.
Avoid palm oil products (cause of deforestation)
Check the label on goods such as soaps, confectionary, instant noodles and more. Ensure that they don’t contain palm oil.
Climate change is probably the single biggest threat facing our generation today. Without significant changes to our lifestyles, we will live in a world which will become increasingly inhospitable, expensive to live in and have to combat forced migration, loss of crops and animals and destroyed ecosystems. We have the resources. We have the information. The only thing we’re running out of is time. We have to act, for the sake of our children and later generations. The time to act is now.