We are on the threshold of a frightening new era…….. never before has humankind’s abuse of the environment put the whole planet in danger.
This is what Climate Change does.
It has become the very greatest threat to our planet and everyone on it, besides all-out war with modern weapons of mass-destruction.
The Greenhouse gases that cause climate change have a delayed effect, like a disease with a long incubation period. This means that we do not know how much irreversible damage we have done already – but we know that if we don’t act now the effects will be many times more devestating still.
The damage has been done mainly by the rich nations (which burn more fossil fuels like coal and oil, and so emit more CO2 – the main ‘greenhouse gas’) but the poorest will suffer worst and most immediately …though everyone is threatened in the long run. People are dying from climate change now though it is not obvious since it is happening through a steady and unrelenting increase in the frequency and severity of the kind of ‘natural’ disasters (floods, droughts, hurricanes, wildfires, etc..) that we are used to.
The vast areas of cold empty space that make up the vast bulk of the Universe are inhospitable to Life. Life is able to exist on the earth only thanks to its gossamer-thin protective covering – its atmosphere. And thanks to the fact that this atmosphere contains just the right amount of heat-trapping gases. So that our planet is not a desolate frigid lump like Mars or Pluto, or scorchingly, intolerably hot like Mercury or Venus. Now humankind is upsetting that precious and precarious equilibrium.
This is down to the Industrial Revolution and the massively increased release of certain gases into the atmosphere that this brought about. Most of all this was Carbon Dioxide produced by the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas formed from “fossilised” vegetation, buried beneath the earth’s surface) but also included increased amounts of methane, nitrous oxide, and halocarbons. At the same time we have been cutting down trees – clearing forests – at an unprecedented rate. Trees, like most vegetation – and indeed ‘life forms’ – are largely made of carbon so their burning or rotting away releases what had been “stored” carbon, back into the atmosphere, as CO2.