What to Do with Climate Change
Now, a lot is said and written about global warming. Almost every day there are new hypotheses that refute the old ones. We are constantly afraid of what we can expect in the future. Many statements and articles openly contradict each other, misleading us. For many, global warming has become a 'global confusion’ and some have completely lost curiosity about the issue of climate change.
Global warming is the gradual increase in the average annual surface temperature of Earth’s atmosphere and oceans due to various reasons (increase in the concentration of greenhouse gasses into the Earth’s atmosphere, changes in solar or volcanic activity, etc.). Very often, people use the phrase 'greenhouse effect’ as a synonym of global warming, however, there was a slight difference between these concepts. The greenhouse effect is an increase in average annual surface temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans as a result of increase in the Earth’s atmosphere concentrations of greenhouse gasses (carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor, etc.). These gasses perform the role of the film or the glass of greenhouses, they freely let the sun rays towards the Earth’s surface and retain heat which is leaving the planet’s atmosphere. The increase in temperature creates favorable conditions for disease development, supported not only by high temperature and humidity but also by the expansion of the habitat of several animals – vectors of diseases. By the middle of the 21st century, it is expected that the incidence of malaria will increase by 60% (Nabi and Qader, 2009). Increased development of the microflora and the lack of clean drinking water will promote the growth of infectious intestinal diseases. The proliferation of microorganisms in the air can increase the incidence of asthma, allergies and various respiratory diseases.
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Due to global climate changes, the next half century could be the last into the life of many species of living organisms. Polar bears, walruses, and seals seem to be deprived of an important component of their habitat – Arctic sea ice (Urban, 2015). The increase in average annual temperature of the surface layer of the atmosphere may be felt stronger within the continents than within the oceans. This will cause a radical restructuring of the natural zones of the continents. The displacement of a number of areas into the Arctic and Antarctic latitudes is already visible now.
The permafrost zone has shifted northward for hundreds of kilometers. Some scholars argue that as a result of rapid melting of permafrost and increase of the degree of World ocean, in modern times, the Arctic ocean occurs on land with an average speed of 3-6 meters within the summer. As for the Arctic Islands and capes, high icy rocks collapse and are usually absorbed by the sea into the warm period of the year at a level of 20-30 meters. The whole Arctic Islands have completely disappeared.
As a result, the winters may be less severe. It is expected that by 2060, the average temperature in will change for 5 degrees.
Ways To Prevent Global Warming
It is believed that people in the future will make an effort to take the Earth’s climate under control. Only time will tell how successful will it be. If mankind does not succeed, and we do not change his way of life, the Homo sapiens species will follow the fate of the dinosaurs.
Advanced minds already think on the best way to reverse the process of global warming. They offer original ways to prevent global warming such since the breeding of new varieties of plants and trees, the leaves of which have a higher albedo, painting roofs white, installing mirrors in earth orbit, glaciers shelter from the sunlight, etc. A lot of effort is spent on replacing conventional forms of energy based on the combustion of carbon materials on nontraditional, including the production of solar panel systems, wind turbines, construction of TPP (tidal power plants), hydropower, nuclear power plants. They offer original, non-traditional methods of obtaining energy including the use of heat of human bodies for space heating, the utilization of sunlight to prevent ice on roads, as well as several others. Energy hunger and concern with the global warming does amazing things to the human brain. New and original ideas are born almost every day.
Not enough attention is paid towards the rational use of energy.
To reduce CO2 emissions, engineers have introduced the engines with improved efficiency, hybrid, and electro cars.
In future, it is planned to pay great attention to the capture of greenhouse gases into the production of electricity, as well as directly from the atmosphere through the disposal of plant organisms, using ingenious artificial trees, injection of carbon dioxide regarding the multi-kilometer depth of the ocean where it will dissolve into the water column. These types of ways to 'neutralize’ CO2 are very expensive. Currently, the cost of capturing one ton of CO2 is approximately 100-300 dollars that exceed the market cost of a ton of oil, nevertheless when you consider that burning of one ton of oil forms approximately three tons of CO2, means of binding carbon dioxide are not yet relevant. Previously proposed methods of carbon sequestration through tree planting invalidate the fact that most of the carbon in forest fires and decomposition of organic matter are released back into the atmosphere.
Special attention is paid towards the development of legislative regulations directed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, many countries had adopted the framework Convention of UN on climate change (1992) and the Kyoto Protocol (1999). The latter was not ratified by several countries, which account for the majority of CO2 emissions. So, the US is the reason about 40% of all emissions (in recent time, China has overtaken the US in terms of CO2 emissions). Unfortunately, people will put their own well-being at the forefront, so we should not expect significant progress in addressing issues of global warming.
DAVID WALLACE-WELLS’ recent climate change essay into the New York Times, published as part of the publicity for his new book 'The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming,’ is, sadly, like a lot of writing on climate change these days: It’s right about the risk, but wrong about how it tries to accomplish the critical goal of raising public concern. Like other essays that have sounded the alarms on global warming — pieces by Bill McKibben, James Hansen, and George Monbiot come to mind — Wallace-Wells’ offers a simple message: I’m scared. People should be scared. Here are the facts. You should be scared too.
To be sure, Wallace-Wells and these other writers are thoughtful, intelligent, and well-informed people. And that is precisely how they make an effort to raise concern: with thought, intelligence, and information, couched into the most dramatic terms at the grandest possible scale. Wallace-Wells invokes sweeping concepts like 'planet-warming,’ 'human history,’ and global emissions; remote places like the Arctic; broad geographical and geopolitical terms like 'coral reefs,’ 'ice sheet,’ and 'climate refugees’; and distant timeframes like 2030, 2050, and 2100.
It’s a common approach to communicating risk issues, known as the deficit model: Proceeding from the assumption that your audience lacks facts — that is, that they have a deficit — all you need to do is give them the facts, in clear and eloquent and dramatic enough terms, and you can make them feel like you want them to feel, how they ought to feel, how you feel. But research regarding the practice of risk communication has found that this approach usually fails, and often backfires. The deficit model may work fine in physics class, but it’s an ineffective solution to make an effort to change people’s attitudes. That’s as it appeals to reason, and reason is not what drives human behavior.
For more than 50 years, the cognitive sciences have amassed a mountainous body of insight into why we think and choose and act as we do. And what they have found is that facts alone are literally meaningless. We interpret every bit of cold objective information through a thick pair of affective filters that decide how those facts feel — and how they feel is what determines what those facts mean and how we behave. As 17th century French mathematician and theologian Blaise Pascal observed, 'we realize truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart.’
Yet a large segment of the climate change commentariat dismisses these social science findings. In his piece for The New York Times, Wallace-Wells mentions a few cognitive biases that fall under the rubric of 123helpme.me behavioral economics, including optimism bias (things will go better for me compared to the next guy) and status quo bias (it’s easier in order to keep things as they are). But he describes them in language that drips with condescension and frustration:
How can we be this deluded? One answer comes from behavioral economics. The scroll of cognitive biases identified by psychologists and fellow travelers within the past half-century can seem, like a social media feed, bottomless. And they distort and distend our perception of a changing climate. These optimistic prejudices, prophylactic biases, and emotional reflexes form an entire library of climate delusion.
Moreover, behavioral economics is only one part of what shapes exactly how we feel about risk. Another component of our cognition that includes gotten far too little attention, but plays a more important part in exactly how we feel about climate change, is the psychology of risk perception. Pioneering research by Paul Slovic, Baruch Fischhoff, Sarah Lichtenstein, and many others has identified more than a dozen discrete psychological characteristics that cause us to worry more than we need to about some threats and less than we need to about others, like climate change.
For example, we don’t worry as much about risks that don’t feel personally threatening. Surveys suggest that even people who are alarmed about climate change aren’t particularly alarmed about the threat to themselves. The absolute most recent poll by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication found that while 70 percent of Americans believe climate change is happening, only around 40 percent think 'it will harm me personally.’
We also worry more about risks that threaten us soon than risks that threaten us later. Evolution has endowed us with a risk-alert system designed to get us to tomorrow first — and only then, maybe, do we be concerned about what comes later. So even those who think climate change is already happening believe, accurately, that the worst is yet to come. Risk communication that talks about the havoc that climate change will wreak in 2030, in 2050, or 'during this century’ contributes to that 'we don’t really have to worry about it now’ feeling.
Risk perception research also suggests that we worry less about risky behaviors if those behaviors also carry tangible benefits. So far, that’s been the way it is for climate change: For many people living in the developed world, the harms of climate change are more than offset by the modern comforts of a carbon-intensive lifestyle. Even those who put solar panel systems on their roofs or make life style changes in the name of reducing their carbon footprint often continue with other bad behaviors: shopping and buying unsustainably, flying, having their regular hamburger.
Interestingly Wallace-Wells admits this can be even true for him:
I am aware the science is true, I am aware the threat is all-encompassing, and I know its effects, should emissions continue unabated, may be terrifying. And yet, when I imagine my life three decades from now, or the life of my daughter five decades from now, I have to admit that I am not imagining a world on fire but one similar to usually the one we have now.
Yet he writes that 'the age of climate panic will be here,’ and he expects that delivering all the facts and evidence in alarmist language will somehow move others to see things differently. This can be perhaps Wallace-Wells’ biggest failure: By dramatizing the facts and suggesting that people who don’t share his degree of concern are irrational and delusional, he is far more likely to offend readers than to convince them. Adopting the attitude that 'my feelings are right and yours are wrong’ — that 'I can start to see the problem and something’s wrong with you if you can’t’ — is a surefire solution to turn a reader off, not on, to what you want them to believe.
Contrast all this deficit-model climate punditry with the effective messaging of the rising youth revolt against climate change. Last August, 16-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg skipped school and held a one-person protest outside her country’s parliament to demand action on climate change. Into the six months since, there have been nationwide #FridaysforFuture school walkouts in at least nine countries, and more are planned.
Thunberg has spoken towards the United Nations therefore the World Economic Forum in Davos, with an in-your-face and from-the-heart message that’s about not just facts but her very real and personal fear:
Adults keep saying: 'We owe it towards the young people to give them hope.’ But I don’t want your hope… I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every single day. And then I want you to act.
By speaking to our hearts and not just our heads — and by framing the issue in terms of personal and immediate concern with a future that promises more harm than benefit — Thunberg has started an international protest movement.
The lesson is clear. Wallace-Wells’ New York Times essay will get lots of attention on the list of intelligentsia, but he is not likely to arouse serious new support for action against climate change. Risk communication that acknowledges and respects the emotions and psychology of the people it tries to reach is likely to have far greater impact — and that’s exactly what the effort to combat climate change needs right now.