Climate Change and Global Warming
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This print version has been auto-generated from http://www.globalissues.org/issue/178/climate-change-and-global-warming
Global warming and climate change is looked at in this section of the global issues web site. Introduced are some of the effects of climate change. In addition, this section attempts to provide insights into what governments, companies, international institutions, and other organizations are attempting to do about this issue, as well as the challenges they face. Some of the major conferences in recent years are also discussed.
Last updated Sunday, February 01, 2015.
The climate is changing. The earth is warming up, and there is now overwhelming scientific consensus that it is happening, and human-induced. With global warming on the increase and species and their habitats on the decrease, chances for ecosystems to adapt naturally are diminishing.
Many are agreed that climate change may be one of the greatest threats facing the planet. Recent years show increasing temperatures in various regions, and/or increasing extremities in weather patterns.
This section looks at what causes climate change, what the impacts are and where scientific consensus currently is.
Read “Climate Change and Global Warming Introduction” to learn more.
Last updated Saturday, December 25, 2004.
The world mostly agrees that something needs to be done about global warming and climate change. The first stumbling block, however, has been trying to get an agreement on a framework. In 1988, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was created by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meterological Organization (WMO) to assess the scientific knowledge on global warming. The IPCC concluded in 1990 that there was broad international consensus that climate change was human-induced. That report led way to an international convention for climate change, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), signed by over 150 countries at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. This section looks at this Convention and some of the main principles in it.
Read “UN Framework Convention on Climate Change” to learn more.
Last updated Monday, March 05, 2012.
The United States plus a few other countries, and many large corporations, have opposed climate change treaties seemingly afraid of profit impacts if they have to make substantial changes to how they do business.
However, as more climate change science has emerged over the years, many businesses are accepting this and even asking their governments for more action so that there is quick clarification on the new rules of the game so they can get on with their businesses.
This section explores some of those fears to see if they are justified or not.
Read “Reactions to Climate Change Negotiations and Action” to learn more.
Posted Monday, February 02, 2015.
Many are afraid that tackling climate change is going to be too costly. But increasingly, studies are showing action will not just be cheaper than inaction, but could actually result in economic, environmental and even health benefits, while improving sustainability.
Read “Action on climate change is cheaper than inaction” to learn more.
Last updated Saturday, October 19, 2013.
For many years, large, influential businesses and governments have been against the idea of global warming. Many have poured a lot of resources into discrediting what has generally been accepted for a long time as real.
Now, the mainstream is generally worried about climate change impacts and the discourse seems to have shifted accordingly. Some businesses that once engaged in disinformation campaigns have even changed their opinions, some even requesting governments for regulation and direction on this issue.
However, a few influential companies and organizations are still attempting to undermine climate change action and concerns. Will all this mean a different type of spin and propaganda with attempts at
green washing and misleading information becoming the norm, or will there now be major shift in attitudes to see concrete solutions being proposed and implemented?
Read “Global Warming, Spin and Media” to learn more.
Last updated Sunday, January 08, 2012.
For a number of years, there have been concerns that climate change negotiations will essentially ignore a key principle of climate change negotiation frameworks: the common but differentiated responsibilities.
Realizing that greenhouse emissions remain in the atmosphere for a very long time, this principle recognizes that historically:
- Industrialized nations have emitted far more greenhouse gas emissions (even if some developing nations are only now increasing theirs);
- Rich countries therefore face the biggest responsibility and burden for action to address climate change; and
- Rich countries therefore must support developing nations adapt—through financing and technology transfer, for example.
This notion of
climate justice is typically ignored by many rich nations and their mainstream media, making it easy to blame China, India and other developing countries for failures in climate change mitigation negotiations.
Development expert, Martin Khor, calculated that taking historical emissions into account, the rich countries owe a
carbon debt because they have already used more than their fair quota of emissions.
Yet, by 2050 when certain emission reductions are needed by, their reduced emissions will still add up to be go over their fair share:
However, rather than continue down the path of unequal development, industrialized nations can help pay off their
carbon debt by truly helping emerging countries develop along a cleaner path, such as through the promised-but-barely-delivered technology transfer, finance, and capacity building.
So far however, rich nations have done very little within the Kyoto protocol to reduce emissions by any meaningful amount, while they are all for negotiating a follow on treaty that brings more pressure to developing countries to agree to emissions targets.
In effect, the more there will be delay the more the poor nations will have to save the Earth with their sacrifices (and if it works, as history shows, the rich and powerful will find a way to rewrite history to claim they were the ones that saved the planet).
These issues are explored in more depth here.
Read “Climate Justice and Equity” to learn more.
Last updated Monday, April 02, 2012.
Flexibility mechanisms were defined in the Kyoto Protocol as different ways to achieve emissions reduction as part of the effort to address climate change issues. These fall into the following categories: Emissions Trading, Joint Implementation and Clean Development Mechanism.
However, these have been highly controversial as they were mainly included on strong US insistence and to keep the US in the treaty (even though the US eventually pulled out). Some of the mechanisms face criticism for not actually leading to a reduction in emissions, for example.
Read “Climate Change Flexibility Mechanisms” to learn more.
Last updated Tuesday, October 29, 2002.
A mechanism suggested for tackling climate change and warming has been the idea of using
Carbon Sinks to soak up carbon dioxide. To aid in this, reforestation, or planting of new forests, have been suggested. This is a popular strategy for the logging industry and nations with large forests interests. While there may be some potential in this solution, it cannot be effective on its own. This is because it legitimizes continued destruction of old-growth and pristine forests which are rich ecosystems and have an established biodiversity base (albeit shrinking now) that naturally maintain the environment (at no cost!). Creating new forest areas would require the creation of entire ecosystems. It is also criticized for being a quick fix that does not tackle the root causes effectively and does not lead to, or promote actual emissions reduction.
Read “Carbon Sinks, Forests and Climate Change” to learn more.
Last updated Sunday, January 19, 2014.
Rapid global warming can affect an ecosystems chances to adapt naturally.
The Arctic is very sensitive to climate change and already seeing lots of changes. Ocean biodiversity is already being affected as are other parts of the ecosystem.
Read “Climate Change Affects Biodiversity” to learn more.
Last updated Sunday, December 05, 2010.
It seems there has been a recent interest in associating climate change/global warming with “over population” and that countries such as China and India have to do more to help contain global warming.
Yet rich countries have a lot to do themselves. There were agreed reasons why developing countries were exempt from initial greenhouse gas emission targets: it was the emissions from rich countries that accumulated in the atmosphere for so long to trigger climate change.
Read “Global Warming and Population” to learn more.
Last updated Sunday, March 03, 2013.
One type of ecosystem that perhaps is neglected more than any other is perhaps also the richest in biodiversity—the coral reefs.
Coral reefs are useful to the environment and to people in a number of ways. However, all around the world, much of the world’s marine biodiversity face threats from human and activities as well as natural. It is feared that very soon, many reefs could die off.
Read “Coral Reefs” to learn more.
Last updated Sunday, May 15, 2011.
Energy security is a growing concern for rich and emerging nations alike. The past drive for fossil fuel energy has led to wars, overthrow of democratically elected leaders, and puppet governments and dictatorships.
Leading nations admit we are addicted to oil, but investment into alternatives has been lacking, or little in comparison to fossil fuel investments.
As the global financial crisis takes hold and awareness of climate change increases, more nations and companies are trying to invest in alternatives. But will the geopolitics remain the same?
Read “Energy Security” to learn more.
Last updated Sunday, June 06, 2010.
The Arctic region has long been considered international territory. Five countries—Canada, Denmark (via Greenland), Norway, Russia, and the United States—share a border with the frozen Arctic Ocean. Some of these nations have claimed parts of the region to be their territory.
Underlying the interests in the area are potentially vast oil, gas and other resources, as well as the opening up of lucrative passages for trade and economic activity as climate change reduces the amount of ice in the region. As a result, these nations have been vying for dominance in the Arctic.
Climate change provides an additional threat — not just to the local wildlife and indigenous populations that are already seeing their surroundings change rapidly, but to the rest of the planet, too. While retreating sea ice may open up shipping routes, the regions ability to reflect sunlight back into space would diminish, further increasing climate change effects.
Read “Dominance and Change in the Arctic” to learn more.
Posted Saturday, January 15, 2005.
Research has shown that air pollutants from fossil fuel use make clouds reflect more of the sun’s rays back into space. This leads to an effect known as global dimming whereby less heat and energy reaches the earth. At first, it sounds like an ironic savior to climate change problems. However, it is believed that global dimming caused the droughts in Ethiopia in the 1970s and 80s where millions died, because the northern hemisphere oceans were not warm enough to allow rain formation. Global dimming is also hiding the true power of global warming. By cleaning up global dimming-causing pollutants without tackling greenhouse gas emissions, rapid warming has been observed, and various human health and ecological disasters have resulted, as witnessed during the European heat wave in 2003