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Efforts to address Climate Change

Efforts to address Climate Change

Author: Jensen Morgan

This lesson describes efforts to address climate change issues.

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Efforts to Address Climate Change

Source: Earth PD Carbon Sequestration CC Harvard CC Kyoto Map PD Climate March CC

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Hi, I'm Jensen Morgan. We're going to talk about some great concepts in environmental science. Today's topic is Efforts to Address Climate Change. So, let's get started.

We're going to talk about two main strategies to address climate change, mitigation and adaptation. We're going to talk about government regulations, international bodies, and other organizations attempts to address climate change, and challenges associated with it.

Efforts to address climate change come in two main forms, mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation strategies introduce and, or, eliminate the effects of climate change. There are numerous government efforts directed at mitigation. An example of such an effort would be carbon sequestration, when atmospheric carbon is stored underground to negate it's greenhouse effect.

Adaptation means adjusting to impending changes in climate by preparing for its pros and cons. Such as, acknowledging that certain areas will become too cold to grow food, while other areas will be able to grow more food than previously possible because of climatic limitations. To adapt we will need to transfer where our prime growing regions are located. Ecosystems will also have to go through adaptation as climates change. But their ability to transition is unpredictable. Scientists are uncertain what the effects will be.

Various government efforts-- including countries like the US-- have been to enforce regulations and standards for greenhouse gas reduction, enforce taxes and fees on producers of greenhouse gas emissions, facilitate trade-able carbon permits for businesses and industry, fund financial incentives for greenhouse gas reduction, and to provide education and information on the climate changes sources-- their impacts, and strategies to address it.

Many institutions of higher education, as well as private businesses, are diverting funds to research ways to reduce greenhouse gases and the potential negative effects of climate change. Some private businesses have been voluntarily signing agreements to reduce their production of greenhouse gases. Along with them, many nonprofit organizations demonstrate, educate, and lobby on climate change issues and problems.

One of the most significant international efforts to address climate change was the international meeting in 1992, established by the UN, to prepare a framework for the anticipated Kyoto Protocol five years later. This 1992 convention suggested that more developed nations needed to cut their emissions, that internationally we needed to approach climate change with the precautionary principle-- meaning that we should err on the side of caution rather than wait for scientific certainty, that policies to reduce emissions should be cost effective, and that free trade internationally should be encouraged in a more open global economic system.

By 1997 the Kyoto Protocol, essentially an international treatise on climate change actions, had many UN countries on board to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. While different countries had different targets, in general the goal was to reduce greenhouse gas levels to 5.2% below 1990 levels by the year 2012. Emphasis was placed on tracking and monitoring emissions data to understand what mitigation efforts were effective.

The Kyoto Protocol was seen as a first step in international cooperation on climate change issues. If all we're to follow its framework, it would only slightly lower climate change's impacts. However, some countries still did not agree to the protocols terms. The United States was one that did not, which is why Kyoto Protocol standards have not been enforced there.

A year after the Kyoto Protocol in 1998, an international panel on climate change was formed to assess climate change's potential risks and impacts. Even though the US did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol in Congress, in 2011 the US EPA began to issue greenhouse gas permits to industries, factories, and power plants.

Addressing climate change is a challenging endeavor, because it was hard to get people to focus on long-term benefits and impacts. Because humans tend to be more concerned with short-term consequences and dividends.

The current global, political, physical, and economic infrastructure is built around fossil fuels, which makes transitioning away from them difficult-- particularly in developing countries whose economies thrive on cheap, abundant fuel sources. Sadly, those same developing countries are commonly most at risk to negative impacts from climate change.

Luckily, some private businesses have realized that climate change can have deep impacts on global economic prosperity, and are finding new technologies to adapt to, or mitigate climate change impacts.

Now, let's have a recap. We talked about two categories of addressing climate change, mitigation and adaptation. We talked about government policy-- attempting to address climate change-- as well as private businesses, and international efforts. Finally, we discussed challenges to addressing climate change.

Well, that's all for this tutorial. I hope these concepts have been helpful. And I look forward to next time. Bye.