HUMAN AWARENESS OF CLIMATE CHANGE 1
HumanAwareness of Climate Change
The concept and rationale of climate change
What climate change is
Measurement of climate change
Causes of climate change
Human induced: Burning of fossil fuels
Determinants of awareness on climate change
This paper looks into an issue that has slowly gained popularity andstrength in terms of research, environmental and social issues, andauthoritative action. This issue is climate change, which in thispaper will be analyzed from the perspective of human awareness onthis thorny issue. The world, through the 20th century hasundergone major shifts in average atmospheric temperatures that haveled to inconsistencies and problems surrounding climatic pattersworld over. Many people around the world can attest to a differencein climatic conditions and patterns in their respective countries orregions. This has been attributed to expulsion of greenhouse gasesinto the atmosphere, particularly carbon dioxide and methane, whichhave been attributed to two factors: natural factors and humanactivities.
Considering the fact that reliable research has identified that theformer does not have any significant effect on climate change, humaninvolvement has increasingly been accused for this trend. This isattributed to burning of fossil fuels and other industrial activitiesthat propagate this phenomenon. Additionally, the psyche andawareness of human beings on the issue has been rather unconvincingas people take it as less of a risk that would necessitate theirattention compared to other things such as the economy and crime.This has led to little affirmative action geared towards controllingthis phenomenon and a continuation of the problem. However, steps arebeing taken to counter this trend such as education and policyformulation that is hoped will instigate people into acting andfinding a practical, working solution to this problem. The futurewill tell if these actions will be functional and effective or if itwill take a substantial climatic catastrophe to make peopleprioritize this problem into one that they should act upon asindividuals and a society.
Climate change has in the past few decades arisen amongst one of themost overwhelming threats, particularly to the environment. At thecore of this problem is the input of human beings that has played abig role in its propagation as they go through their day-to-dayactivities. Thus, the necessity to sensitize the general populous ofthe world concerning issues to do with global warming as well asclimate change becomes rather vital[ CITATION Fil10 l 1033 ].Incentive for voluntary moderation is generally reliant on onperceived vulnerability to threats and ruthlessness certainsituations such as climate change. Still, there is an aspect ofadaptation, which is fundamentally dependent on the accessibility ofinformation appropriate to climate thus enabling people to actaccordingly in order to cope with adversities brought about by thisphenomenon. It is therefore essential that relevant authorities toevaluate existing awareness with respect to climate change amongstthe general population in order to mount practical mitigationstrategies. As evidence surrounding climate change and itsconsequences continue to be accumulated, it slowly becomes evidentthat majority of its foundations are naturally anthropogenic,especially through consumption, choices, and lifestyles thatcontaminate and exploit resources in a manner that can be deemedunsustainable. Further, it is projected that climate change willcontinue having negative effects on industries such as agricultureand fishing, with a huge potential of collapsing these ecosystems. Itis therefore high time that human beings take action throughawareness programs and mitigation policies that will reverse thistrend to not only save the human race but also the world in general.
This paper will have an in-depth look into the thorny issue ofclimate change, particularly in terms of people’s perceptionsconcerning this phenomenon around the globe and what is being done toensure that the world’s populous is receiving accurate and relevantinformation. All this is geared towards cutting down greenhouseemissions and improve the state of the world’s environment for thegood of human beings and every other living thing in it.
Climate change, also termed as global-warming,denotes a significant escalation in ordinary temperatures on Earth ona surface level. A vast majority of scientific unanimity in upholdingthat climate change is caused primarily by use of fossil fuels byhuman beings on earth that leads to discharge of greenhouse gasessuch as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere[ CITATION Fle13 l 1033 ].These gases consequently prevent heatfrom leaving the atmosphere thus increased levels of humidity andheat in the atmosphere. This can lead to a variety of effects on theworld’s ecosystem, which may comprise of severe climaticoccurrences, escalating sea levels, and droughts that create largedisparities in the environmental make up as well as shifts in normalweather patterns.
The most evident indication of surface warming or climate change canbe indicated by the extensive variations in thermometer recordingssome of which extend as far back as the 19th century. In the modernday however, temperatures are scrutinized extensively in many placesacross the world on both land and sea thus providing a wide array ofdata that is essential to accuracy and reliability. Theseexaminations help to examine this factor in the context of previousreadings in order to establish shifts and potential areas of concernsurrounding this issue. Wide arrays of other relevant observationsoffer researchers a more ample perspective of climate change and itssubsequent effects on climatic systems. These measurements, which areachieved through a variety of complex and specialized monitoringsystems and offer an added level of confidence concerning the realityof Earth’s predicament, show that affirmative action has to betaken if human beings desire a better future for their mother planet.
It is undoubted that the global climate has undergone massive changesin recent decades. The years leading up to the 21stcentury through to the early 2000’s have gone into history books asthe warmest years in the globes temperature record. Climate change isnot a new phenomenon in the world considering the fact that it formsan ordinary part of the world’s natural inconsistency, which islinked with relations between the ocean, landmass, atmosphere andsolar radiation.
Causes of Climate Change
It is widely expected and evidenced that theprincipal cause of this phenomenon is the burning of fossil fuels,particularly coal, oil and charcoal, which release greenhouse gases,predominantly carbon dioxide. Still there are many other undertakingslike deforestation and farming that add to the propagation of thesegases. While certain magnitudes of these gases are natural and forman important fragment of Globe’s temperature regulation mechanism,the atmospheric concentration of carbon-dioxide have not risen beyondthree hundred ppm (portions per million) in the middle differentstages of human civilization since its dawn approximately 10,000years ago up to the beginning of the 20thcentury. Presently, it stands at around 400 ppm, a level that hasnever been achieved in over 400,000 years[ CITATION Des08 l 1033 ].
Table 1: The world’s surface temperature onland and sea (1800’s to 2000’s)
Extensive research is increasingly being directed towards this issueacross the world to establish the degree of environmental variationthat can be attributed to this phenomenon and how much of the changeis human-induced. In a number of areas, there have been contradictoryperceptions as well as in terms of views and research interpretation.With extensive research however, many queries have been raised withregard to how these influences will be resolved. Potential effectsbeing studied today by cover issues such as drought, sea level, andweather patterns. Currently, GCMs (General Circulation Models), whichhave been used majorly, have the capacity to offer researchers anapproximate annual temperature for the earth that is dependable.
Ever since the mid-19th century, a considerable number ofscientists were aware that carbon dioxide (CO2) formed the mainsource of greenhouse gases, which not a bad thing in essenceconsidering its intricate significance to Earth’s energy stability.None the less, levels of CO2 measured directly from the air as wellas air enclosed within ice granules reveals that it has had asubstantial rise of about 40% between the year 1800 to 2012. Aquantity of various forms of carbon, chiefly isotopes, discloses thathuman activities have played a very big part in this trend.Additionally, greenhouse gases like nitrous oxide and methane havebeen found to be incremental due to the same activity, which raisesserious questions of the exact impact human beings have imposed onthe earth. Shifts in surface temperature that have been observed overthe 20th century are consistent with comprehensivemeasurements of the detected rise in carbon dioxide within theatmosphere and energy balance on a global scale.
Different impacts on climate possess diverse and unique signatures onclimatic records. These distinctive characteristics are much easierto spot especially by examining beyond normal factors such asfluctuations in average temperature, but rather observing seasonaland terrestrial patterns of climate change. These patterns mayinclude earth-surface warming, a rise in sea level, major temperaturevariations, increased humidity, a considerable rise in ocean heatcontent, and melting of ice on both land and sea. All these matchpatterns that have been witnessed in recent years that scientistswere anticipating as a consequence of rising levels of CO2 as well asother climatic changes induced by humans. The projected alterationsin climatic conditions are pegged on people’s awareness of howgreenhouse gases operate, especially in terms of trapping heat in theatmosphere. This incorporates an intricate understanding of thephysics involved in these gases as well as in-depth investigation,which convincingly show that natural causes are not able to providereasonable explanations to recently witnessed fluctuations in climateby themselves. Natural origins of climatic change consist of internalvariations in ordinary climatic system, through conditions such as ElNiño and La Niña, volcanic eruptions, and disparities in the Sun’sultraviolet output as well as the Earth’s trajectory around theSun. Calculations made through climate models have been successfullyused by researchers to mimic the effect of natural factors only onglobal temperatures and how they subsequently influence the world’sclimate system. These simulations show that there would be only avery slight, insignificant variation, or even a minor fall intemperature, over the 20th century. It is only when human factors areadded to these models that changes consistent with the currentsituation are witnessed.
In spite of the serious threat posed by climate change to the humanpopulation, and habitats even as awareness and concerns surroundingthe issue in the public domain continues to vary greatly. Variousfactors determine the perception of the causes, risks, and impact ofclimate change in different parts of the world, which experiencedifferent outcomes albeit from the same cause. Still, progresses inrudimentary education, literacy, and gaining an understanding of howthis phenomenon affects every single person at a personal level arekey issues that can instigate public support in the fight againstclimate change. The highest level of mindfulness was found in thedeveloped world whereas many developing countries as well as theMiddle East revealed particularly low levels. Despite being among theminority, individuals who had an awareness of this phenomenon in thedeveloping world on this issue perceive it as a bigger threat totheir communities compared to other areas of the world. Forecasts ofclimate change awareness vary greatly in different countries that mayinclude education initiatives, household income, civic engagement,access to communication, geographic location.
Majority of people, when questioned on current issues facing theplanet, especially from a climatic perspective, reiterate aconsiderably fair level of concern on the risks and impact of climatechange on a global scale. Further, they believe that actionsinstigated by human beings are fundamentally liable for thealteration of normal climatic systems and the consequent problemsthat surround this particularly sensitive issue in the contemporaryworld. Even so, they still rank climate change as of lower importancein their individual lives compared to other issues such as theeconomy, terrorism, poverty, education, employment, health care,misconduct, among other issues.
Assessments and media reports point to a waning trend in terms ofpublic concern on climate change since around the year 2006. Thisdecline in in recent years however, highpoints complications faced byrelevant authorities in keeping public attention glued on the problemof climate change. A number of considerable factors, such as thenature of man’s psyche compounded by complexities surrounding thisissue, play a big role in this loss of focus. Simply put, the humansense of awareness is not best apt to address this problem[ CITATION Lei06 l 1033 ].  Thisis attributed to the mental skill of human beings that is modified tofirst solve issues deemed urgent and well-defined in terms of thenature of the problem as well as possible solutions, not forgettingtheir value to people at a personal level. Taking climate change intoperspective, dimensions of the problem can be seen as rather abstractor vague and the fact that it does not have clearly articulatedremedies creates an opposing reaction to the aforementioned factors.Undeniably, possible solutions to this issue not only weaken the oddsof undesirable results but also seem to be an indefinite compensationfor all the effort ant time invested in it thus cutting downreactions to it.
Further, majority of people across the world do not recognize thisphenomenon as an impending hazard that merits their immediateattention or direct action[ CITATION Lor05 l 1033 ]. A globaltemperature upsurge by a mere few degrees may appear somewhatbenevolent to most individuals in society, especially to those whoprefer warmer weather to the more chilly winters. Likewise, a rise insea level by a few feet or random hurricanes and drought may not posemuch of a significant peril to people who live in land and have noconnection of use of the sea. Besides, a substantial proportion ofthe human race does not admit that their activities have a directimpact on the environment and a consequent source of climate change.They do not recognize any direct welfare accrued as a result ofalleviating this phenomenon, as much as they directly experience theoverhead costs such as utility bills that are a result of climaticfluctuations.
Merely knowing that this phenomenon exists is quite different fromhaving an intricate understanding of threats posed as well as actionthat can be taken to control or prevent it. In the US for instance,the most robust predictors are beliefs surrounding causes, awarenessof shifts in temperature, as well as outlooks on how governmentinvolvement. Individuals who believe that the issue is largely causedby human beings view it as a greater risk compared to those whobelieve it is just but a natural event.
Education and belief systems on causes, risks and effects of thisclimatic issue play a big role in establishing awareness patternsamong individuals of a given society on a global scale[ CITATION Lyn15 l 1033 ].This is particularly true because unexpected shifts in local weathercan create false perceptions on risks involved thus inappropriatereactions by individuals that can be detrimental not only to them butalso their immediate community. Public understanding of facts ofclimate change is still erratic even though scientists have commonground. Further, implementation of established policies, which arehighly reliant on achieving and withholding public support, is stilla big problem mainly due to deficiencies in public understanding.
Conceptualization of climate change in both the U.S and Europereveals an extensive concern of the issue and is of secondarysignificance to other matters affecting their daily lives. Majorityof individuals relate to this aspect based on a foundation ofknowledge, personal experience, trust societal actors, andequilibrium between benefits and costs. Considering the manydifficulties surrounding the decision-making processes, dataretrieved from surveys is able to offer policymakers practicalfoundations that they can base their problem-solving strategies whenseeking to address this issue. It is able to reveal promising orhostile attitudes toward overall levels of knowledge, ideas, andfears. Positive steps such as the Kyoto Protocol, which was anoutcome of the UN’s (Framework-Convention on Climate-Change), canonly be deemed successful if the public and strategic stakeholdersprovide support effective action. UNEP (United Nations EnvironmentProgram) has also provided governments with guidelines that focus onfocal points in an effort to support such activities and increasepublic awareness thus reducing the effect of global warming.
This paper has looked into the thorny issue of climate change thathas increasingly come into public light in recent years particularlydue to the many climatic disparities that have been witnessedworld-over. One issue that has emerged in the process of controllingthis trend is public awareness, which incorporates understanding ofcauses, effects and risks surrounding this phenomenon.It is beyond doubt nonetheless that a few new catastrophicclimatic occurrences that can equal the extent of Hurricane Katrinaor the 2003 European heat wave would necessitate a review of currentperspectives and subsequently raise its priority of concern among thepopulous. It therefore becomes prudent that the worlds populous aremade aware of these factors so that every single person would be partof the drive towards a greener, cleaner and healthier environment.
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