Climate Change, A Fact or Fiction?


The following article is written by Rida Sharafat, a student of Sir Syed Kazim Ali. Moreover, the article is written on the same pattern, taught by Sir to his students, scoring the highest marks in compulsory subjects for years. Sir Kazim has uploaded his students’ solved past paper questions so other thousands of aspirants can understand how to crack a topic or question, how to write relevantly, what coherence is, and how to include and connect ideas, opinions, and suggestions to score the maximum.

Climate change, being a global phenomenon, has become a controversial issue. Some people think climate change is not a reality, but most people believe it is a real process that is now happening at an unprecedented level. However, analyzing different factors and unusual events occurring worldwide makes it clear that climate change is a fact. It has undoubtedly, caused devastating problems for the world. No region is safe from its effects; if steps were not taken timely to slow down this change, it could make some parts of the Earth uninhabitable by the end of this century. Some of the most important indicators of climate change are rising Earth’s surface temperature, rising sea levels, heavy floods, and shrinking ice sheets. For instance, climate change resulted in a destructive flood in Pakistan in 2022. Moreover, changing weather patterns, longer wildfires, and droughts are also indicators that prove that climate change is a fact. Now, taking substantial collective steps at the international level is necessary to mitigate its impacts and slow down this process. Thus, this essay sheds light on the indicators that prove climate change is a fact and the required actions to deal with this issue.
Scientific evidence for the warming of the climate system is unequivocal.

  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

It is of high importance to understand the actual context of climate change before moving towards discussing whether climate change is a fact or a faction. Climate is a long-term regional or even global pattern of average temperature, humidity, and rainfall over different seasons. So, climate change means that there is a long-term shift in average temperature and weather at the global level. Since the beginning of the industrial era, the change in climate has been observed, primarily driven by human activities, like the excessive burning of fossil fuels. According to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, the average temperature of the Earth has already risen by more than one degree Celsius. This alarming rise in temperature has become a very serious threat in the twenty-first century. So, it has now become a very serious issue for the whole world.

There are some very clear indicators that prove that climate change is undeniably a fact. Though there are some people who believe that it is just a natural process, the acceleration in this process cannot be a natural phenomenon. Since the last five decades, the changes in climate have occurred at unprecedented levels. That is the result of a high concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) report, since the beginning of the industrial era, human activities have raised atmospheric concentration of CO2 gas by nearly forty-nine per cent (49%). This gas is a major greenhouse gas (GSG) that is becoming the reason for the rise in temperature and other changes in climate due to the greenhouse effect. The next part of the essay includes details on all the major indicators of climate change.

The first and most important sign of climate change is that the average temperature of the Earth’s surface has increased. As already mentioned, this change has occurred at a high pace since the second half of the twentieth century. As per the report of the United Nations (UN), in 2021, the global mean temperature of the Earth was 1.1 degree Celsius above the pre-industrial level. These previous five to seven years were considered the hottest years. This was all because of climate change; this change in average surface temperature has shown very serious impacts in the form of low yield of crops, health issues, and disasters like heat waves and droughts. So, it is unwise to consider climate change fiction because the evidence proving it a reality is very clear.
Second, oceans have started becoming warmer and more acidic, ultimately causing severe impacts on marine biodiversity and the communities near coastal areas. This warming and acidification of oceans is due to excessive emissions, as high concentrations of Co2 in the atmosphere cause warming of ocean water and also acidification when it dissolves in water. According to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), ninety-five per cent of the open ocean surface has become more acidic since the last two decades of the twenty-first century. This has badly disturbed marine life, ultimately affecting economic activities like tourism and fishing. As far as the warming of oceans is concerned, the UN has mentioned in its report that nearly sixty per cent of the world’s oceans experienced at least one spell of marine heatwaves. These heat waves are very harmful to marine organisms as well as humans. It indicates that the climate has changed, and this must be taken seriously to minimize its effects.

Third, Arctic Sea ice has started decreasing due to the rise in global average temperature. This melting of ice in the Arctic Sea can cause serious issues for other parts of the world as well. The sea covered with ice and snow reflects back the heat into space and maintains the balance in other parts of the world that absorb heat. As per the observations of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the rate of loss of Arctic Sea ice is thirteen per cent per decade. The reason behind this continuous decrease in Arctic Sea ice is global warming, which has been majorly caused by high concentrations of GHGs in the atmosphere. There is no denying that it is a long-term change in the natural climate of the region; if it remains unchecked, it can give rise to very serious problems, like heat waves, a rise in sea level, and habitat loss for many species.

Another very clear indicator of climate change is the melting of glaciers and the shrinkage of ice sheets. Since the last half-century, due to the rise in industrialization, the emission of CO2 and other GHGs has raised the average surface temperature of the Earth, leading to the melting of glaciers. According to the statistical data of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Greenland and Antarctica have been losing more than a hundred billion metric tons of ice per year. This melting of ice due to warmer air has become a reason for the rise in sea levels. Moreover, it would affect the climate of other regions also which do not have ice sheets or glaciers; these ice bodies act as refrigerators for Earth. According to National Geographic, glaciers in Garhwal Himalaya in India are retreating so fast that it is now believed that most of these glaciers could disappear by 2035. This melting can bring devastating impacts, like flash floods, water crises, and even water wars between countries.
Furthermore, another important evidence of climate change is rising sea levels. This indicator is linked to the above-mentioned indicators because the melting of ice and snow becomes the reason for the rise in sea levels. It has become a very serious issue now because it is a threat to coastal areas, and it has also impacted economic activities. Former president Mohamed Nasheed of the Republic of Maldives said that with a sea-level rise of 1.5 meters, hundreds of millions of people would be dead. The rate of rise in sea level has increased as a result of the fast melting of glaciers and ice caps due to warmer air. Consequently, this unusual rise in sea level creates stress not only on physical coastlines but also on the ecosystem of those areas.

Besides these indicators, changes in patterns of precipitation are also evidence of climate change. This is due to the rise in temperature that more water evaporates into the air from warmer oceans. Ultimately, it leads to heavier rainfalls and snow. IPCC has predicted that the average and heavy precipitation can increase over much of Asia. This altered pattern of precipitation can lead to flash floods, for instance, recent floods in Pakistan that proved very destructive. Moreover, this is due to climate change, and the monsoon rains have become more erratic and dangerous, especially in the South Asian region.

Moreover, frequent droughts also clearly depict that climate change is a fact. Severe droughts occur when much of the surface water evaporates due to warmer temperatures. It impacts soil fertility and also causes water scarcity. As a result, droughts cause food insecurity and health issues leading to many causalities. They also cause become the reason for the economic crisis, especially in developing countries. According to the UN, from 1998 to 2017, the global economic loss caused by the drought was roughly USD 124 billion dollars. This has happened due to altered patterns of rainfall and increased rate of evaporation due to raised average temperature of the Earth. Besides this, there are also some other indicators of climate change, like longer seasons of wildfire, that are discussed in the next paragraphs.
Longer seasons of wildfire, becoming very threatening for the world, are evidence of climate change. Climate change has made wildfires worse due to high temperatures, low relative humidity, lightning, and storms. It is predicted that the number of wildfires can rise by 50% by 2100, according to the UN Environmental Program. Wildfires have pushed many animal and plant species closer to extinction. Moreover, wildfires also become the reason for the rise in temperature. So, it is said that wildfires and climate change are mutually exacerbating.

There are also some globally recognized case studies that are the products of climate change. The most important and recent one is the case study of flash floods in Pakistan in 2022. Last year, in August and September, Pakistan received rainfall three times more than its usual rainfall. As a result of heavy rains and floods, 33 million people were affected, mainly in the provinces of Baluchistan and Sindh. According to the report of the National Disasters Management Authority (NDMA), nearly 1500 people died due to this disaster. Moreover, it also destroyed standing crops, damaged infrastructure, and killed almost 750 million livestock. The estimated loss was around USD 30 billion dollar, and it has been recognized that the flooding occurred due to extreme monsoon rainfall in 2022. This disaster should be taken as a lesson, and leaders, especially from developed and industrialized countries and organizations, should take substantial steps to slow down the rise in global average temperature.

Critically, since the industrial revolution, many changes in nature have been observed. These changes primarily occurred due to human activities, like burning fossil fuels and the emission of chemical compounds and gases, for instance, CO2. These gases increased the greenhouse effect, which has become one of the major reasons behind the average increase in the surface temperate of the Earth and some other changes that are discussed above. Without any doubt, these changes in natural climate are long-term and have become a hot issue in the twenty-first century. Many conventions are made, and agreements are signed at the international level to deal with these threatening issues. Recently, in the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (CoP27) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the need for fairness and international cooperation has been emphasized. For this, six key areas, like strengthening adaptation action and support and enhancing ambition on mitigation towards 1.5 degrees Celsius, have been mentioned to deal with the crisis of climate change. Thus, the serious concerns shown by developing countries like Pakistan, which is one of the most vulnerable countries, prove that climate change is undeniably a fact.

In a nutshell, climate change is a global issue that has become a non-traditional security threat for many countries, such as Pakistan. From all the above discussion, it has proved that climate change, unlike the claims of some, is not fiction. Rather, it demands global cooperation to deal with this issue. Human activities are the reasons that are disturbing the natural environment, so now all stakeholders, especially the developed and industrial countries, need to play their role in the process of mitigating the problems of the global rise in temperature, melting of glaciers, rising sea levels and others. These changes in climate can cause even more severe impacts on health, agriculture, biodiversity, ecosystem, and economy if not given due attention timely. So, it is hoped that by considering climate change a serious and actual issue and taking substantial measures accordingly, this blue planet can be prevented from more drastic losses.

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