1st year next 5 years Vehicle ownership is doubling every five years in many Asian countries, with growth in urban areas even more rapid, often doubling every two to three years Decrease in fresh water availability could affect more than one billion by 2050 china Developing countries in Asia are now responsible for China is the largest source of the region’s greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for about 70 percent. Its per-capita emissions, however, are only about half of the developed world’s average China leads the world in renewable energy investment, spending more than the US, UK and Japan put together
of ancient CO2 levels can be found in the bubbles held within Antarctic ice. Scientific inquiry into fossil life and geological events has also brought about a greater understanding of the changes in Earth’s atmosphere throughout our planet’s existence.
At daybreak, if you look towards the rising sun, you may see the bright planet Venus. Through satellite and robotic explorations of this planet, we now understand what causes the intensely hot temperatures at the surface – the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide and water vapour. According to a recent NASA report, Venus may have once been a habitable planet, until global warming transformed the planet into its current hellish state with surface temperatures higher than 460°C, virtually no water, and an atmosphere comprised of carbon dioxide and sulphuric acid clouds.
Today, countless scientists are observing Earth’s atmospheric dynamics. While there may be a concerning number of climate change deniers, their numbers are vastly outnumbered by those who hold to the science, and by those who are suffering from its effects. The real controversy surrounding climate change is therefore not about chemistry and the science of the climate, but about responsibility and justice.
Opportunities for change
It would be too easy to become complacent, or even defeatist, in the face of these worrying changes. But there is still an opportunity for every individual to work together to set motions in place. First and foremost, we need to understand and stay alert to the problem. Only then can we give it the attention and gravity that it deserves. There’s a remarkable amount of confusion and, tragically, misinformation about climate change. For some, it’s easier to deny or ignore these changes and to resist making any tough decisions, but this is, inevitably, a losing strategy.
With that awareness comes a recognition of the pathways forward. Realising that renewable energy sources such as wind, hydro, and solar energy offer new solutions for generating power, innovative countries have invested in research and instigated infrastructure efforts towards implementing these technologies. Fossil fuels are being identified not only as non-renewable, but also as perilous, leading to increased calls for reducing reliance on these important resources.
Across the globe, people are experimenting with new methods to slow, mitigate, and adapt to climate change. While these initiatives are as yet unable to provide a capable replacement for fossil energy sources, used effectively, they may lead to a future where humanity is able to harness the tools to manage our shared atmosphere more responsibly.
Change starts with you
What can you do? You can choose a course of action that helps humanity adapt to and better understand the challenges of the future. Demand and use alternate energy sources. Be proactive in helping your community plan for the coming changes. You can be transparent about and aware of your own energy consumption, and be cognisant of your nation’s energy use; insist that your political leaders confront the issues responsibly. Shun the easy mindset of denial, and be empathetic to those people who face the effects of climate change on the front lines. Understand the current crisis by researching the geological past. Contextualise. Plant a tree. Be creative, be rational, and be bold in your daily decisions in how to individually reduce your carbon footprint.
When the first photograph was taken of Earth by Apollo 17 in 1972 – called The Blue Marble – humans had their first clear image of the beautiful vulnerability of our planet, orbiting silently in space. This image captures our atmosphere, and shows that it is shared by all of us. If there is one sure thing that arises from the uncertainty of a changing world, it is the singular importance of that fact. Earth is our one and only hospitable habitat – one that we won’t have the opportunity to be homesick for should we choose to lose it. ag
There’s a remarkable amount of confusion and, tragically, blatant misinformation about climate change