How is climate change impacting the planet?

Abhini, Year 10, looks at some of the issues surrounding climate change, and the potential impacts this will have on our lives.

During the Easter holidays, London and other parts of the UK witnessed a significant protest against the government with over 1,000 people being arrested for blocking streets. The wave of protest began with Swedish born 16-year-old Greta Thunberg who, every Friday, would sit outside government buildings in September, accusing her country of not following the Paris Climate Agreement.

What are the concerns?

So what is it that everyone is worried about in terms of climate change? The world is seeing more extreme temperatures being recorded increasingly across the globe. The 21st century has seen records broken with increased temperatures all through the season and the rise in temperatures also has an impact on the Arctic and melting ice caps. 2016 was the hottest year on record since 1880, with average temperatures measuring 0.99 degrees Celsius warmer than the mid-20th century mean. Since the 1950s, every continent has warmed substantially.

New Scientist graph on global temperature change

An additional impact that climate change is having on the earth is on sea levels, as they are rising at their fastest rate in 2000 years and currently changing at a rate of 3.4 mm per year, causing major impacts such as increased flooding. If sea levels continue to rise, countries like Bangladesh will cease to exist, leading to a refugee crisis, as an average of 21.5 million people have already been forcibly displaced since 2008 due to climate change-related weather hazards. Not only are our water levels increasing, but the ocean is now 26% more acidic than before the Industrial Revolution. This also means that the waters are now more acidic than at any other point in the last 300,000 years.

NASA data on sea rise change from 1880-present

Another shocking fact that is due to climate change, is the damage of two-thirds of the Great Barrier Reef. In April 2017, it was revealed that two-thirds of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has been severely damaged by coral bleaching, usually a result of water temperatures being too high. However, there are many more important and recent events due to climate change such as last week’s cyclone attack in Mozambique and the wildfires that took place in California late last year. The pictures below show these significant, global events.

Is climate change real?

What about the people who deny climate change? A large proportion of the public in Western democracies deny the existence of climate change[1]. Some climate change denial groups say that because CO2 is only a trace gas in the atmosphere, it can only have a minor effect on the climate. Climate denial groups also argue that global warming stopped recently, or that global temperatures are actually decreasing. However, these arguments have been made clear to be false and are only based on short term alternates. Climate change deniers are often those who are economically making a financial interest in it and, in some cases, their generation is not necessarily going to be impacted by it.

We all know about ‘being green’ by walking to school or unplugging electronics when we are not using them. However, it is not enough anymore to just switch our light off as times now call for drastic change. The energy sources in our home need to be renewable, gas must go, and people should start investing in an electric or hybrid vehicle rather than using petrol or diesel.

climate change

We cannot sit and wait on the government to change. Change is in the hands of the people. We need to force the government’s hand and can only do so if we unite to try and save a world which we are currently destroying. Change occurs when we take action.


[1] See