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CLIMATE CHANGE :

COST OF POPULATION EXPLOSION


SHAKUNTALA KOTWAL
PGT (BIO )

Abstract
Climate Change, Global Warming, Extinct bio diversity such words are giving
sleepless nights to environmentalists and governments. Species have evolved over
millions of years to adapt to specific climatic conditions as well as to variations in
climate, but the current increase in temperature and differing weather patterns has
occurred over an extremely short period of time. As a result the evolutionary processes
are not able to match this pace. Therefore, many species of plants and animals fail to
adapt to changing temperature and weather leading to their extinction. If the current
practices are allowed unabated and temperature rises from 2.5
0
to 4.5
0
C, ice of many
glaciers and Polar Regions would melt causing disappearance of all ice from the surface
of earth. This in turn would lead to disappearance of low lying cities like Venice and
Bangkok. Since the environment as well as human race is on stake, the world leaders
have felt the need of a comprehensive global treaty onclimate change.
Keywords: Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC), Carbon Sink, Domino Effect, Greenhouse Gases
(GHG), Carbon Captured Storage (CCS).
Introduction
Climate change has produced significant and measurable impacts on almost all
ecosystems and ecological processes, including changes in species distribution, timing of
biological behaviors, ecological interactions and community dynamics which in turn
manipulates the whole bio diversity. Species have evolved over millions of years to adapt
to specific climatic conditions as well as to variations in climate, but the current increase
in temperature and differing weather patterns has occurred over an extremely short period
of time which evolutionary processes are not able to match. Therefore, many species of
plants and animals are not able to adapt to changing temperature and weather. Population
explosion, deforestation, industrialization, consumer oriented culture, chemicals,
fertilizers, insecticide, excessive grazing, extended agriculture activities etc. have
affected and destroyed the environment to the maximum limit.
The term Global Warming was first used by J . Fourier in 1857 while the
concept was developed by Revelle in 1857. According to Fourier, the global warming is
due to excess of CO
2
in atmosphere and warned that sea level would increase because of
global warning leading to melting of ice of Arctic and Antarctica continents. Every year
the temperature is rising at a rate of 0.005
0
C. If the process continues the world will go
on warming up, ultimately the glaciers, polar ice caps would melt and many low lying
areas of earth would be flooded with water.
The Earths surface has warmed by 1.1
o
F to 1.5
o
F since the Industrial Revolution
(measured since 1880), with most warming occurring since the 1970s. The temperature
rise from 2.5 to 4.5
0
C will result in melting of ice of many glaciers and Polar Regions
causing disappearance of all ice from the surface of earth, consequently low lying cities
like Venice and Bangkok will disappear from the map of the world. Increasing
temperature can also adversely affect the world food production. Precipitation has also
increased over the past century, although some regions have become wetter while some
have become drier. Greater use of pesticides and herbicides in response to new pest
species may damage existing plant and animal communities.
The loss of species and ecosystem are the outcomes of accelerating
transformation of the earth by a growing human population. As the human population
passes the 7 billion mark, we have transformed, degraded or destroyed roughly half of the
world forests. Over hunting, illegal poaching has been significant cause of extinction of
hundreds of species and endangerment of many more (Whales, Mammals).
Effects of Climate Change
Data that have been collected for the last 15 years can uncover how our
environment has been affected by climatic changes in the past and how they might be
affected by future changes.
Long-distance migrant birds such as the storm petrel which migrate from their
breeding grounds in the North Atlantic to Namibia, South Africa, and the Indian
Ocean are likely to be particularly sensitive to climate change, because their
ability to complete their annual migratory cycle depends on environmental
conditions at widely spaced locations around the planet. Migrant birds must build
up and maintain large fat reserves to fuel their migration journeys, but their ability
to do this, and the level of fat reserves carried, depends on conditions along the
migration route, which are affected by climate.
Melting of permafrost is having dramatic effects on ecosystems in the Arctic
region. Of special concern are polar bear den sites, often reused over hundreds of
years. Dens extend to permafrost which is important for potentially heat-stressed
females. If permafrost melts, dens can collapse and their thermal advantage is
significantly reduced - something which is expected to negatively affect bear
reproduction. The polar bear is a keystone species; if its population declines then
the ecological functions of the entire region will be affected. Ecosystems could
change from dry uplands to wetlands, which will affect all aspects of the ecology
of the region.
Higher temperatures will cause tropical forests to lose humidity. This drying out
may cause invasion or replacement of forest species by lower mountain or non-
mountainspecies.
Increased temperatures may cause more frequent forest fires and create conditions
favorableto pests; both will lead to degradation and loss of biodiversity.
Ozone layer is a region of the atmosphere from 19 to 48 km above the earths
surface. Ozone concentrations of up to 10 ppm occur in the ozone layer. The
ozone forms there by the action of sunlight or oxygen. Ozone concentration at
ground level are dangerous to breathe and can damage the lungs. However,
because the ozone layer of atmosphere protects life on earth from suns ultraviolet
radiation causing skin cancer. In 1970s scientists discover that CFC used in
refrigerants, air- conditioner and in aerosol spray propellants have posed a threat
to the ozone layer. The CFCs are very stable on earth. Released into the
atmosphere, above chlorine - containing chemicals rise and are broken down by
sunlight, whereupon the chlorine reacts with and destroy ozone molecules up to
100,000 per CFC molecule. Destruction of the ozone layer damage certain crops
and to plankton and the marine food web, and an increase in CO
2
due to the
decrease in plants and plankton. Burning the coal and fossil fuel increase of
nitrogenous fertilizers are also contributing to the destruction of ozone layer. The
ozone layer depletion if not controlled, would enormously affect the ecosystem
productivity, ecological stability and overall environmental equilibrium.
Domino Effect occurs when the removal of one species (an extinction event) or
the addition of one species (an invasion event) affects the entire biological
system. Domino effects are likely when two or more species are highly
interdependent or when it has strong connection to many species. Scientists
believe that by the next century 25% of existing species will be lost.
Carbon emission or carbon dioxide emission are produced naturally through
carbon cycle and throughhuman activities. Natural sources of CO
2
occur within
carbon cycle are removed fromthe atmosphere by oceans, growing plants and
forests (also known as Carbon Sinks) and areemitted back into the atmosphere
through natural process. But the human activities like as the burning of oil, coal,
gases and deforestation have increase CO
2
concentration in the atmosphere. We
burn fossil fuels to create energy to keep our houses warm, to fuel our cars, to
grow and cook our food etc. The level of CO
2
has increased 40% since the
Industrial Revolution. In 2010, the combustion of fossil fuels and the production
of cement sent more than 9 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere. Recent
data shows that 57% of carbon comes from developing countries. The United
State was pumping 1.5 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere last year.
Carbon emission/ carbon dioxide emission are responsible for about 80% of the
problems related to GHGemission.

In hot tropical countries, high concentration of CO
2
would influence
photosynthesis activities of plants and consequently growth and its direct
fertilizing effect excessive concentration of noxious gas like CO
2
, NO
X
, CH
4
besides CFCs.
Increased concentration of CO
2
warms the tropical oceans leading to more
cyclones and hurricanes.
Greater use of pesticides and herbicides in response to new pest species may lead
to extinction of existing plant and animal communities.
Preventive Measures
Practices which can be implemented for controlling global warming.
Stop completely the burning of fossil fuels and use alter source of energy
requirement.
Prevent deforestation completely and encourage people to grow trees on available
land.
Shut down all the industries which are helping the formation of smog and
industries emitting CFCs.
Encourage industries which establish a relationship with nature.
Prevent ozone layer depletion.
Enhance understanding of the relationship between biodiversity, ecosystem
structure and functions and dispersal and/or migration through fragmented
landscapes.
Develop the basic understanding of policies for the potential impacts of
conservation and sustainable use of activities on climate change (local, regional and
possible global).
Development and implementation of education and public awareness programmes
on climate change and its effects.
Conclusion
With global warming on the increase and species and their habitat on the decrease,
chances for ecosystem to adopt naturally or diminishing. A summit meeting of heads of
government is needed to strengthen global ambition on climate change we should start
preparing now. The more there will be delay the more the undeveloped (poor) nations
will have to save the earth with their sacrifices. Why developing countries were exempt
from initial green house gas emission targets; it was the emission from rich countries that
accumulated in the atmosphere for so long to trigger climate change.