There are so many terms associated with climate change that it is becoming difficult to keep track! The confusion is so rife that it is even providing fuel for climate change deniers. How can the confusion of climate change terminology be used as ammunition for naysayers? Take this prime example:
These deniers refute the existence of “climate change” by using evidence of out-of-the-ordinary cold snaps and extreme cold weather patterns. Their reason for this refutation? They have heard the term “global warming” used so regularly that they cannot comprehend that the phenomenon would bring extremely cold weather.
“How can global warming exist when this has been the coldest Winter on record?” they quip.
It’s a sad reality that many people just do not understand the basics of weather patterns and systems, and how Earth’s climate biome operates. But it’s also important to consider that with so many moving parts involved in Earth’s climate, accurate communication is imperative.
So, as a company passionate about helping planet Earth fight the onslaught of warming temperatures, we want to help bring some clarity to this specific instance. To do so, we need to examine the effect known as “The Greenhouse Effect”.
What is it?
The Greenhouse Effect is exactly why we as a species are faced with the overwhelming challenge of “global warming”, but more specifically, why our global climate is changing (hence: climate change – the more accurate term in our international fight).
Example: Your Car On A Hot Day
Have you ever got back to your car after an hour or two shopping at the local grocery store on a sunny day, and found it just too hot to climb into? Especially when you’ve left all of the windows closed!
In many instances, the steering wheel is too hot to even touch, and god help you if you have black leather seats! The best thing to do is to open all the windows to allow the hot air to be released before even entering. This is in essence the simplest way to understand the “Greenhouse Effect”.
The overwhelming heat energy of the sun enters the car’s windows, heating up the car’s interior, but the closed windows don’t allow that heat energy to escape. The sun’s energy is a form of radiation, and can enter the car’s windows easily, but the heat that this energy creates cannot return out of those windows.
This is known as the greenhouse effect because of the famed gardening tool known as a “greenhouse”. (They’re called greenhouses because they produce beautifully green plants and flowers). A greenhouse is used when farmers or gardeners need more heat and humidity than is naturally available in the area where they live. The house absorbs the sun’s radiation, heating up the interior, but the sealed off house of panels or transparent canvas prevents that heat from escaping – creating the perfect environment for plants that need warmer temperatures. Greenhouses work especially well in colder regions of the world, even in Winter. As long as there is sun, greenhouses can be incredibly effective for gardeners.
Hopefully by now you’re starting to understand this phenomenon in relation to Earth’s entire climate?
Applied To Earth
The Earth’s atmosphere is about 100 km thick, which in the grand scale of the planet is thinner than the skin of an apple! This atmosphere is made up of a number of layers, and the lowest one, the Troposphere (at 16 kms from Earth’s surface), is the layer where most of Earth’s heat gets recycled and can’t escape.
Now, of course, Earth has had an atmosphere for millions of years trapping heat inside it and creating the perfect climate for life. But it is only in the modern age that this atmosphere has started to change, causing the climate to shift in catastrophic ways.
Standard gases in the atmosphere like water vapour and certain amounts of carbon create a layer that prevents Earth’s heat from escaping. But since the industrial age, humans have been releasing overwhelming amounts of additional carbon (in the form of carbon dioxide) into this atmosphere, causing much less heat to escape than normal.
Mankind has released almost double the amount of carbon into the atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial age, increasing it from 280 ppm (particles per million) to 421 ppm at the last reading. This carbon, trapped within the Troposphere, makes for an even “thicker” layer of glass (remember the car example) that lets far less heat out than ever before.
In addition to this, the carbon itself warms up from the Sun’s radiation, and the more carbon there is, the warmer the Earth’s temperature will get.
This is, in its simplest form, the Greenhouse Effect. And while there are some nuances to the science, this is where we get the term “global warming”. This effect has been increasing the Earth’s surface temperature for the last 150 years. But this “warming” effect causes extreme heat and cold. This is because increased heat increases the evaporation of the Earth’s oceans, and thus causes stronger cloud systems, which in turn create stronger cold fronts, snow storms, hurricanes etc. (Of course, in other parts of the world, where there is less water vapour in the region, the land gets parched, and we get drought and heat waves.)
What We Can Do About It: Green Energy Sources
It is for this very reason that we at Ecowatt are so adamant about turning back the climate clock! Mankind not only needs to drastically reduce the amount of carbon it is emitting into the atmosphere, it also needs to absorb the already emitted carbon.
The first step is to indeed cut back on carbon emissions. We simply cannot allow there to be much more carbon released into the atmosphere! The easiest way to do that is to transition to green energy, a subject we at Ecowatt are passionate about.
We have decades of experience in manufacturing and engineering renewable energy plants, from solar to wind, even to waste product bio-energy. We are actively working in the likes of Hungary, Turkey, Romania among others to produce some of the most effective green energy solutions available. These plants currently produce over 350 Megawatts of electricity, all generated entirely by energy naturally available on planet earth, without any combustion or burning required.
What We Can Do About It: Carbon Credits
In addition to dramatically decreasing the amount of carbon in our atmosphere, quite possibly even more crucial is the technology of absorbing carbon already there. As mentioned numerous times here on the Ecowatt blog, this is known as “carbon capture”, and there are a number of ways of doing so.
The easiest way to do it, and one that we are actively pursuing in many regions globally, is to simply plant more trees! As widely understood, trees absorb remarkable amounts of CO2, and are critical in our fight against climate change.
Part of the reason we have lost the climate change battle in recent years is because of our horrifying deforestation work around the globe. To keep up with paper and mineral needs, forests have been cut down at alarming rates, and these were literally the “lungs” of our planet. These forests must be replaced in order to get back to a healthy equilibrium on Earth.
Reforestation and afforestation are two forms of carbon capture work that we are pursuing. Reforestation is the replanting of large tree forests which had been cut down and not replaced. Afforestation is the identification of new land and planting new forests where none had existed before.
If ever there was a time to invest in the future of our home, it was now.