The general purpose of this research paper is to look at the scientific evidence for the global climate changes that have been observed in the 20th century towards the 21st century. It is also going to pinpoint the possible causes of the process under consideration and show the sociopolitical, environmental and economic impacts of the global climate change. Additionally, the paper will discuss the ways in which global climate changes can be slowed down, stopped and reversed. The manner in which the impacts can be minimized will also be explored.
Scientists first claimed that the human activities including the active consumption of the fossil fuels would have a negative impact on the Earth’s climate in the 1890s (Helm 2013: 266). In particular, the scholars came to a conclusion that there was a connection between the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere and the temperatures. However, the idea was not verified till the 1980s, when the average planet’s temperature started to increase. According to the scientists, between the 1880s and 2012, the average temperature grew by 0.85 degrees Celsius (Helm 2013: 266). Thus, nowadays, the climate has become warmer than a century ago.
This process is referred to as global warming or climate change. It is defined as the gradual growth in the average atmosphere temperatures, which is caused by the carbon dioxide and other pollutants emission. The term climate change is used to describe the long-term alteration in global or regional climate patterns including the rise of the average atmospheric temperature. The climate change has become the most obvious since the middle of the 20th century and has been mainly caused by the high levels of the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere due to the extensive usage of the fossil fuels.
The causes of global warming are represented by the external forces. Under the influence of the increased amount of CO2, solar activity, or volcanic eruptions, the Earth’s climate can change (Mann and Kump 2009: 25). Nowadays, the excess emission of greenhouse gases remains the biggest contributor to the process. The released greenhouses gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, or nitrous oxide, warm up lower layers of the atmosphere and heat up the planet’s surface.
The possible results of climate change will vary from one region to another. However, all of them will have negative characteristics. The global warming causes the increasing of the temperature, rising of the sea level, melting of glaciers and sea ice, expansion of deserts, and extinction of species. In particular, the scientists have already proven that during 1961-1998, there were significant changes in the surface areas and masses of glaciers (Dyurgerov 2003: 164). The loss of glaciers areas has been especially noticeable since the 1980s (Dyurgerov 2003: 164). Their melting has contributed to the increase in the sea level, which rose from 0.15 mm per year in 1961 to 0.41 mm per year in 1988 (Dyurgerov 2003: 164). The climate change can also lead to more frequent occurrence of the extreme weather conditions.
Economic consequences of global warming include the damage of property and infrastructure due to floods, droughts, and other natural disasters, loss of productivity, and reduction of world gross domestic product. The economic segments of countries all over the world, such as mining industry or fishery, will experience significant decreasing as they rely on energy sources. In addition, climate change will cause mass migration of people and contribute to the security threats. Finally, the world population will experience problems with food supplies and access to fresh water, as well as spreading of the diseases.
As for the sociopolitical impacts, the climate change will result in mass migration of the population in order to find more favorable places for living. This will lead to the higher number of conflicts between nations and occurrence of riots.
Thus, climate change has become one of the biggest threats to the people’s lives, economies of the countries, and national security. In order to address the problem, international community and local authorities have to develop effective mechanisms which include green economy initiatives.
Facing global warming and its effects on the current and future generations, the international community has already taken measures to address the problem. However, the cities and local governments have to increase their participation in the eliminating the causes of the global warming.
Actually, they have some advantages over the national governments. In particular, local authorities are more innovative. Besides, they are closer to communities and can influence the public attitude towards the problem more effectively. Local authorities implement the adopted national policies and strategies, thus, they deal with the problem on the lower level. No doubt, they are more aware of the situation in the particular regions of the country. Moreover, local governments are capable of implementing green policy initiatives, such as reducing transport emissions or increasing urban biodiversity. Finally, they can represent a link that unites national initiatives and global policies on climate change.
On the local and regional levels, authorities can implement the initiatives of the sustainable development. In particular, the local governments can assist in the development of renewable energy and implementation of environmentally-friendly projects. Waste management is another sphere of the administrations’ responsibilities in addressing of the issue. Despite the programs of recycling, the waste can be also treated as a source of the renewable energy. Transport and its influence on climate change is another direction of the local policies. In particular, local governments can introduce the limitations on the carbon dioxide emissions by cars. It is also necessary to adopt mitigation measures which can help to reduce the output of greenhouse gases on the local level.
The international community has already declared the aim of reducing the carbon dioxide emissions. Kyoto Protocol has imposed restrictions on the greenhouse gases release into the atmosphere (Kintisch 2009: 1546). However, the biggest emitters did not ratify the document. As a result, the commitment does not fully address the problem of global warming. In order to solve the issue, local authorities have to introduce new strategic approaches to climate change. In particular, the scholars suggest the implementation of a uniform carbon price (Weitzman 2014: 29). The mechanism will introduce higher emission prices for the biggest emitters and result in the decreasing amounts of the released CO2.
Another initiative that can eliminate the causes and results of global warming is climate resilience. The concept foresees the maintaining of the functions in the new conditions imposed by climate change and adaptation of the population to the challenges. On the local level, the strategies of climate resilience include addressing of housing inequality and workplace conditions, introducing of low-cost engineering solutions for preventing the consequences of natural disasters, and implementing of political agencies that can provide quick response to emergencies.
One of the effective mechanisms of solving climate change problem is the implementation of the green economy initiatives. The concept was developed few decades ago. However, it did not attract the attention of the international community till the beginning of the 21st century, when the threat of global warming became obvious. The green economy is defined as a complex of economic activities in the sphere of production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services that lead to the improvement of human well-being. The initiatives provide an opportunity to avoid serious environmental changes and risks for the future generations. The green economy is based on the efficient consumption of the natural resources, decreasing of carbon emissions, and social inclusiveness of the population. As a result, the nations get an opportunity to adjust the economies to the ecological limits of the Earth and provide a better quality of life.
The green economy is aimed at the steering of the economic development towards sustainability. The main elements of the green economy include the improvement of energy sufficiency, usage of renewable energy, waste management, preservation of the natural resources, and green job promotion. Consequently, the green economy initiatives foresee the development of new technologies that contribute to the advancement of the energy sufficiency, reduction of waste disposals, and provision of the sustainable usage of the natural resources. Green economy gains its importance as some of the other possible preventive measures are no longer considered to be effective. For example, according to the scientists, plants may not protect the Earth from global warming (Wogan 2015). Usually, they absorb greenhouse gases and disengage oxygen into the atmosphere. However, with the fall in the amount of the nutrients, the plants may not grow fast and contribute to the global warming (Wogan 2015).
The elements of the green economy can be integrated into every sector of people’s life. For instance, the primary sector of economy, which is responsible for transforming natural resources into primary services, such as mining industry or agriculture, can use the renewable energy sources and decrease the amount of the greenhouse gases emissions, or minimize waste disposal and promote recycling. The secondary sector of economy, which manufactures finished goods, and the tertiary sector, which provides services and information, can also contribute to the solution of the issue by integrating green economy initiatives.
As a result, the green economy introduces a number of actions that will lead to the reduction or slowdown of climate changes. In particular, governments and local authorities can introduce standards for energy consumption for different sectors of the economy. In addition, the renewable energy programs can decrease significantly the usage of the natural resources and CO2 emissions. The nations should also encourage the investments into the green economy projects, such as construction of “green buildings” or environmentally-friendly cars. Besides, the actions against global warming should include the support of biodiversity, regulation of the water resources usage, and waste management. Finally, the governments should promote the environmental education of the population to increase the awareness of the problem and provide information about possible solutions. Green economy initiatives represent an effective mechanism to eliminate climate change causes and results. The policies can address the current challenges, provide economic opportunities for the nations, and preserve the environment.
Thus, global warming has become a threat to the human existence. The phenomenon can result in the disastrous effects on the environment, such as increasing of the temperatures, melting of glaciers, rising of sea level, and extinction of the species. As the same time, the consequences of global warming will have a direct impact on people and their activities. In order to address the problem, the international community has to adopt an effective policy. In particular, the efforts aimed at the elimination of the climate change should be integrated into the economic initiatives. Since the countries experience advanced development, the environment cannot be treated in isolation from the economic initiatives. As a result, the concept of the green economy was introduced. The policy outlines key steps that can be taken by governments and local authorities in dealing with the climate change. First, the nations should introduce standards for energy consumption for different sectors of the economy. The attempts have already been taken on the international level with the adoption of Kyoto Protocol. However, the biggest world emitters of the greenhouse gases, including the United States of America and China, refused to ratify the agreement. As a result, the economic activity of the countries does not fall under the international limitations. At the same time, on the regional and local levels, the authorities can impose the restrictions on the CO2 emissions in governmental and private spheres of the economy. Second, local authorities should increase the investments in the renewable energy programs. Their implementation will allow reducing the usage of the natural gas, oil, or coal, and, consequently, decrease the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Third, the initiatives should include the promotion of the green projects, such as environmentally-friendly transportation or buildings. Fourth, the actions should be aimed at preserving biodiversity and natural resources. Fifth, the local authorities have to increase the awareness of the citizens about the issue of global warming, its consequences and possible solutions.
At the same time, the green economy initiatives have to be adopted in accordance with the economic, social, and political peculiarities of the countries. There is no universal scheme for the green economy to be implemented. The integration of environmental issues and economic factors should be made in accordance with the nations’ development and willingness to adhere to sustainable development. As a result of the initiatives, climate changes in various ecosystems can be slowed down, stopped and reversed.