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Who Do We Really Blame For Climate Change?

Something that boggles my mind about the evolving climate change problem is that it wasn't always a problem. It could have been easily prevented, still can be mitigated. The continuous inaction and empty promises to limit global warming is killing the planet which could lead to the displacement of over 2 billion people and rising ocean levels.

To completely get rid of a tree you need to cut out from its root right? Although it might not sound useful to point fingers, we must do so if we are truly committed to eliminating the climate problem. At what point did we go wrong? "We" because over the years there have been several proclaimed contributors. The activists blame the government while scientists blame the irresponsible emission of greenhouse gases via fossil fuels. That brings me to the question, who do we really blame for climate change?

To get a populace opinion, I asked my LinkedIn followers this question. The participants of this poll were selected at random and anonymously. Responses were self-administered and results were evaluated quantitatively.

According to the poll, 74% of participants believe human practices are to be blamed for climate change while 21% believe the government should be blamed for climate change and only 5% believe greenhouse gases are to be blamed.

Greenhouse Gases? Often, we speak negatively about greenhouse gases, to be fair it has a bad representation. Contrary to popular belief, it is very important as it is good for the planet and in turn, the human race. In a world without greenhouse gases and the atmosphere we would have global cooling (global warming in the form of declining average temperatures).The average temperature of the earth would be zero degrees Fahrenheit which could lead to extreme freezing climate disasters. The same scientists who now warn us about global warming used to warn us about global cooling.

Having said that, excess emission of greenhouse gases is just as dangerous and can cause the global average temperature to uncontrollably increase. Our main concern is that greenhouse gases are rapidly increasing the earth's temperature.

The key to a healthy sustainable planet is an equilibrium, a balance for the sources (nature or human activity that releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere) and sinks (a reservoir that stores and accumulates carbon-containing chemical compound for an indefinite period hence reducing the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere) to have the same amount of CO2.

The most prominent greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere through human activities include Carbon Dioxide (CO2) which enters the atmosphere when fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil) are burnt or naturally in human waste, and other biological materials, Methane (CH4) released during the production and manufacture of fossil fuels as well as agricultural practices, Nitrous Oxide (N2O) released during combustion of fossil fuels, agricultural processes, and wastewater treatment, and Fluorinated Gases often released in smaller quantities from a variety of industrial processes.

Government and Non-governmental Organizations? Public concern over the impacts of climate change has grown in recent years and the responsibility for mitigation and adaptation policies has been placed on the government and non-governmental organizations. Enforcing and creating policies is critical and difficult. In particular, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) aims to identify instruments intended to directly reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions and the different proposals for structuring international agreements to limit climate change, The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and The Kyoto Protocol aim to structure climate policies for adaptation on an international level. I discuss the opportunities the COP 26, a conference of parties by the UNFCCC presents here. Several instruments to cut down GHG have been implemented such as carbon or energy taxes, the removal of environmentally harmful subsidies. Although a global carbon price helps to reduce the playing fields between countries and addresses concerns about the potential effects on competitiveness of climate change policies, I believe it is a bad idea. Carbon taxes will make fossil fuels more expensive and cost of living unbearable for low-income families who can't afford electric alternatives.

Further evaluation on how well the policies are working and how proposed policies will work, require scientific research on both current and possible future climate policies.

Industrial Revolution? Although the temperature of the earth has always changed and fluctuated due to natural increases in carbon emissions, the recent variations in the Earth's temperature, weather event, and sea levels indicate an abnormality in the environment, possibly as a result of the industrial revolution in the mid-1700s because of the burning of fossil fuels in energy production. Before this, the global average amount of carbon dioxide was an estimated 280ppm but spiked to 415ppm in 2019, the highest in millions of years, and is predicted to exceed 900ppm by the end of this century.

From 1850 -2005, the average global temperature rose by 0.74ºC, with a large degree of that warming happening since 1970. By 2015, the average global temperature had warmed by over 1ºC since the pre-industrial revolution. The Paris Agreement aims to limit global warming relative to a pre-industrial baseline, a term used to measure the global average temperature from a time when fossil-fuel burning hadn't changed the climate.

Despite the possibility that these contributors might have played their roles equally, Arguably, I can't help but believe the non-existence or elimination of one could mitigate the adverse effects of the others on the environment. Granted these contributors have also revolutionized our everyday lives and healthcare, evaluating, monitoring, and moderating them can take the edge off their climate impact.


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