You are on page 1of 10

YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF CLIMATE CHANGE

Written by,
Kennedy Yamil
Institut Pendidikan Guru Kampus Gaya, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.




Its hard even for people like me to believe, to see that climate change is actually
doing what our worst fears dictated. Its starting to give me chills, to tell you the
truth.
(Jennifer Francis, Research Professor, Rutgers University)

Unlike what you might think, it is not new to us when we hear about the term
Climate Change whether being spoken or written. Of course, we are actually aware
on that term since we are living in this Earth. The only reason why we have them is
that, we, as the habitants are the one who are actually the culprit of them.
Why should we be afraid of climate change? According to the United States
Environmental Protection Agency website which can be reached via www.epa.gov,
climate change refers to any significant change in the measures of climate lasting for
an extended period of time. In other words, climate change includes major changes
in temperature, precipitation, or wind patterns, among other effects, that occur over
several decades or longer.
Nowadays, we can feel that our Earth is warming. The Earth's average
temperature has risen over the past century, and it is projected to rise another
Celsius over the next hundred years. Small changes in the average temperature of
the Earth can translate to large and potentially dangerous shifts in climate and
weather.
The rise in global temperatures have been accompanied by changes in
weather and climate. We do not need to go that far. Just see our country, Malaysia
as an example. Many places have seen changes in rainfall, resulting in more floods,
droughts, or intense rain, as well as more frequent and severe heat waves. The
planet's oceans and glaciers have also experienced some big changes. Oceans are
warming and becoming more acidic, ice caps are melting, and sea levels are rising.
As these and other changes become more pronounced in the coming decades, they
will likely present challenges to our society and our environment.

Climate change is a global problem. The planet is warming because of the growing
level of greenhouse gas emissions from human activity. If this trend continues, truly
catastrophic consequences are likely to ensue from rising sea levels, to reduced
water availability, to more heat waves and fires
(Malcolm Turnbull)

According to the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary International
Students Edition (8
th
edition), climate change can be defined as changes in the
earth's weather and that include changes in temperature, wind patterns and rainfall,
especially the increase in the temperature of the earth's atmosphere that is caused
by the increase of particular gases, especially carbon dioxide.
It is obvious that climate change is a long-term shift in weather conditions
identified by changes in temperature, precipitation, winds, and other indicators.
There are many different factors that affect climate around the world. It is the varying
influence of these factors that lead to different parts of the Earth experiencing
differing climates. According to an article entitled Causes of Climate Change
which can be reached via website
http://edugreen.teri.res.in/explore/climate/causes.htm , many factors, both natural
and human, can cause changes in the Earths climate. The earth's climate is
dynamic and always changing through a natural cycle. What the world is more
worried about is that the changes that are occurring today have been speeded up
because of man's activities. These changes are being studied by scientists all over
the world who are finding evidence from tree rings, pollen samples, ice cores, and
sea sediments.
There are a number of natural factors responsible for climate change. Some
of the more prominent ones are continental drift and volcanoes.
We may have noticed something peculiar about South America and Africa on
a map of the world. Don't they seem to fit into each other like pieces in a jigsaw
puzzle? According to EduGreen.com
(http://edugreen.teri.res.in/explore/climate/causes.htm), about 200 million years ago
they were joined together. Scientists believe that back then, the earth was not as we
see it today, but the continents were all part of one large landmass. Proof of this
comes from the similarity between plant and animal fossils and broad belts of rocks
found on the eastern coastline of South America and western coastline of Africa,
which are now widely separated by the Atlantic Ocean. The discovery of fossils of
tropical plants which in the form of coal deposits in Antarctica has led to the
conclusion that this frozen land at some time in the past, must have been situated
closer to the equator, where the climate was tropical, with swamps and plenty of lush
vegetation. The continents that we are familiar with today were formed when the
landmass began gradually drifting apart, millions of years back. This drift also had an
impact on the climate because it changed the physical features of the landmass,
their position and the position of water bodies. The separation of the landmasses
changed the flow of ocean currents and winds, which affected the climate.
Volcanoes on the other hand will throw out large volumes of sulphur dioxide,
water vapour, dust, and ash into the atmosphere when it erupts. Although the
volcanic activity may last only a few days, yet the large volumes of gases and ash
can influence climatic patterns for years. Millions of tonnes of sulphur dioxide gas
can reach the upper levels of the atmosphere from a major eruption. The gases and
dust particles partially block the incoming rays of the sun, leading to cooling. Sulphur
dioxide combines with water to form tiny droplets of sulphuric acid. These droplets
are so small that many of them can stay aloft for several years. They are efficient
reflectors of sunlight, and screen the ground from some of the energy that it would
ordinarily receive from the sun. Winds in the upper levels of the atmosphere, called
the stratosphere, carry the aerosols rapidly around the globe in either an easterly or
westerly direction.
However, we are less concern about the natural factors since it goes naturally
and some cannot be prevented. But, it is now a global concern that the climatic
changes occurring today have been speeded up because of the humans activities.
Do you still remember back in secondary school, we learnt about the
Industrial Revolution when we were in Form 4 during History class? The root of the
problem actually started from there. According to Climate Change Challenge.org
which you can view it online via
http://www.climatechangechallenge.org/Resource%20Centre/Climate-Change/3-
what_causes_climate_change.htm , the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century saw
the large-scale use of fossil fuels for industrial activities. Fossil fuels such as oil, coal
and natural gas supply most of the energy needed to run vehicles, generate
electricity for industries and households. The energy sector is responsible for about
3/4 of the carbon dioxide emissions, 1/5 of the methane emissions and a large
quantity of nitrous oxide.
Carbon dioxide is undoubtedly, the most important greenhouse gas in the
atmosphere. Changes in land use pattern, deforestation, land clearing, agriculture,
and other activities have all led to a rise in the emission of carbon dioxide. Methane
is another important greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. It is released from animals
such as dairy cows, goats, pigs, buffaloes, camels, horses and sheep. Methane is
also emitted during the process of oil drilling, coal mining, leaking gas pipelines,
landfills and waste dumps.

"There is strong evidence that the warming of the Earth over the last half-century has
been caused largely by human activity, such as the burning of fossil fuels and
changes in land use, including agriculture and deforestation."
(The Royal Society, 2010)
We can already see the effect of climate change towards our Earth. We may
not be able to change it back into its original state but at least we could reduce the
climate change impact. Driving a car, using electricity to light and heat our home,
and throwing away garbage all lead to greenhouse gas emissions. We can reduce
emissions through simple actions like changing a light bulb, powering down
electronics, using less water, and recycling.
Reducing, reusing, and recycling in our home helps conserve energy and
reduces pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from resource extraction,
manufacturing, and disposal. If there is a recycling program in your community,
recycle your newspapers, beverage containers, paper, and other goods. Also,
composting your food and yard waste reduces the amount of garbage that you send
to landfills and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Malaysia also reviewed that climate change
is considered to be one of the biggest threats facing nature and humanity today. It is
an undeniable, pervasive, and insidious planetary crisis that affects every aspect of
our lives and future. In order to avoid the devastating effects of climate change,
global warming should stay well below a 2 Celsius increase compared to pre-
industrial temperatures. In order to attain this objective, the global greenhouse gas
emissions need to be cut by at least 50 per cent in the coming decades.
Therefore, one of the action that was taken by WWF-Malaysia to reduce the
impacts of climate change is by reducing emissions from deforestation and
degradation (REDD) through the WWF-Forest Based Carbon Network Initiative.
Deforestation is responsible for 20% of the total global GHG emissions, and for
significant ecosystem and species loss. If emissions from deforestation are not
curbed, the likelihood of success in preventing the dangerous effects of climate
change is drastically reduced. The Forest-Based Carbon Network Initiative will lead
this effort by working to set a new framework, within which the diverse drivers of
deforestation can be addressed with new urgency. This initiative will spearhead
efforts to reduce forest-based emissions through a focus on carbon emissions and
carbon funding, while recognizing the long term imperative to address the root
causes of deforestation at the national level and to raise the value of all ecosystem
services that forests afford. It will work to reorient both public and private sector
policies towards reducing emissions from forests, providing concrete financial
incentives to do so.
Furthermore, during the World Environment Day in 2013, our Prime Minister
Dato' Sri Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak in his official website
http://www.1malaysia.com.my , also made a clear stance that the government have
a target to ensure that 50% of Malaysia remains permanent forest, to protect our
countrys outstanding biodiversity. Secondly, they have pledged a 40 per cent cut in
our emissions intensity by 2020, from 2005 levels, to ensure our economic growth is
compatible with a stable climate. Malaysia is already major producer of clean energy
products such as solar panels and efficient LED lighting. The funding for the Green
Technology Financing Scheme has been increased by RM2 billion to incentivise the
production and utilisation of green technology-based products. Moreover, with the
introduction of GreenTech Malaysias carbon footprint (CFP) labelling scheme,
consumers will soon be empowered to make an informed environmental decision
about the goods and services they buy.
Climate change is a defining challenge of our times and it is already
increasing the risk of exposure to hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity among the
poorest and most vulnerable people. Natural disasters are becoming more frequent
and intense, land and water are becoming more scarce and difficult to access, and
increases in agricultural productivity are becoming more difficult to achieve.
However, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has already provided
alternatives to cope with the changing climate. As reached in their official website,
http://www.iaea.org , they have introduced some method since 2009 to manage food
security. Nuclear techniques can help increase crop yields and nutrition. Plant
breeding using mutation techniques produces crop varieties that can thrive under
difficult conditions by adapting to drought and higher salt levels and a wider range of
temperatures. Already drought-adapted rice and wheat varieties have been released.
The changing climate allows diseases and insect populations that afflict herds,
destroy ripening crops or infest stored foods to migrate to new regions. Nuclear
applications like the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) and ionizing irradiation can help
control trans-boundary animal diseases, as well as control pests and food-borne
microbes.
The government and NGOs so far have done a good job in dealing with the
climate change impact. But do not forget that we as university and college students
should play our part as well. We can play an important role in reducing greenhouse
emissions at our colleges or universities by reducing our emissions from energy we
use in dorm rooms. We could also work with the administrators to develop an
inventory to increase energy efficiency on our campus and that was exactly done by
Institut Pendidikan Guru Kampus Gaya, Kota Kinabalu. In 2011, the institute
received a five-star recognition for having successfully reduced its energy usage by
over 40 per cent. They managed to reduce its power usage within six months after
the Energy Efficiency Programme (EEP) was launched in April 2010. Within six
months of the implementation, the institute was able to reduce its energy usage by
40.35 per cent, which exceeded the 35 per cent of reduction target. The EEP, or
better known as Proketen, was a collaboration programme between the IPGM and
the Education, Training and Research Centre of Renewable Energy and Energy
Efficient (Cetree), University of Science Malaysia in Penang. Their story of success
was published in an independent national newspaper of East Malaysia, Daily
Express, on 29
th
January 2011.

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children
(Native American)

Our environment, the world in which we live and work, is a mirror of our
attitudes and expectations. While we cannot undo the damage caused by the climate
change, we could help to decelerate the rate of change and maybe in long-term,
could change the fate of the planet. We have for a long time been aware that taking
care of our environment will also affect our daily living and improve our lives in the
long run. If we start on taking care of our mother earth, we are saving our mother
nature and so as with our lives. Living a healthy environment assures that we are
keeping our lives safe and so us with the living things in the world.
Preventing climate change in the future is down to the actions and opinions of
future generations. Now is the time to start educating our children about climate
change and its effects. This can be done at school, by parents and every simply
through leading by example. So start playing your part now!
This is where we live. Why are we hurting our home? Live on our earth, love
our earth, laugh on our earth. This is the only one we have. Save It!

(2429 words)