Global Climate Change: A Primer


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A climate change primer would be incomplete without some math. Greenhouse gas GHG concentrations are everything when it comes to climate change, so understanding the numbers is extremely important. Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, when asked for the April Indian edition of Reader's Digest whether it's possible to reverse global warming, responded: "Theoretically, yes.

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You will really have to bring down your emissions to below zero and find ways by which you can absorb existing carbon dioxide. Technologically, that's entirely possible. Current levels of GHGs are now dangerously high, and atmospheric greenhouse gas pollution is already creating impacts such as:. And yet we keep increasing our emissions into the atmosphere instead of decreasing them.

Carbon sinks are failing, so emissions are not being "absorbed" into the Earth's systems, especially the oceans through the delicately tuned carbon cycle as efficiently as they used to be.


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Plus, carbon feedbacks have begun in the Arctic for example, higher temperatures thaw permafrost, releasing carbon dioxide and methane, which as greenhouse gases lead to further global heating, which leads to more thawing, and so on. What needs to happen to regain the carbon and climate equilibrium that allowed the flourishing of agriculture and therefore human civilizations and cultures over the last five to ten thousand years since the end of the last ice age? This minute movie is worth every second because it explains carbon feedbacks and the scariest feedback of all, the destabilization of methane hydrates — the methane timebomb so clearly.

Understanding carbon feedbacks is a crucial part of any climate change primer — for older students and adults.

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By the way, this movie mentions that "the fate of civilization itself hangs in the balance. We are heading toward making the oceans so acidic and the biosphere so uninhabitable that the survival of practically all life is now threatened. For teachers and older students, first, please pass on this climate change primer to others. Write to let us know if there's anything we should add to it. Next, it's always election time somewhere in the world But you don't have to wait for election time. You can write, fax, email, phone or visit your elected representatives right now.


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  • Share this climate change primer with them. When asked what would make a difference in Canada, one politician stated, "One hundred thousand people on Parliament Hill. What about a Million Grandparents March? You can start spreading a compelling vision of a sustainable future. Imagine a world based on a renewable energy economy.

    It would be a world that is safe, clean and healthy fossil fuel pollution kills millions of people every year, mainly due to respiratory illness , peaceful no more resource wars and equitable no one owns the sun, wind, tides or Earth's core heat. Students of all ages can certainly help to illustrate and talk up this future.

    Finally, here's what a wonderful friend of ours, Ricci O'Reilly, did when he learned about global climate change. He was moved to write a song. He made a video.

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    He posted it on YouTube. He's getting responses from around the world!


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    • Imagine your students doing something like that. And don't think you have to know how to do it first; they'll teach you. It's the Right Time. According to the Worldwatch Institute's State of the World report, Into a Warming World , "global emissions of carbon dioxide must reach a peak in less than 10 years and then begin a rapid decline to nearly zero by to avoid catastrophic disruption to the world's climate.

      Christopher Flavin, president of the well-respected US-based environmental think tank, explained that "humanity will face grave danger if we don't move forward now. Emissions of carbon dioxide will actually need to "go negative" — with more being absorbed than emitted — if we want to avoid unacceptably dangerous temperature increases and impacts.

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      According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC , the bottom line for climate change mitigation and adaptation is "substantial emissions reductions over the next few decades and near zero emissions of carbon dioxide and other long-lived greenhouse gases by the end of the century" IPCC , Fifth Assessment Report Synthesis Headline Statements. Long-lived in the atmosphere greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

      Today, we cannot attain the goal of global sustainability unless we successfully mitigate the impacts of atmospheric greenhouse gas pollution and learn to adapt to its impacts. We are all being called on to "provide unrelenting leadership" if we want to achieve the necessary reductions in greenhouse gases.

      Food and Climate Change

      Indeed, teachers must — and can — become climate change heroes for their students! Please share this Climate Change Primer with other educators. The project team then worked with industry representatives to develop material for the educational resource — a book and accompanying CD. The book, Climate Change and Water: A Primer for Municipal Water Providers, alerts urban drinking-water professionals to the fact that global climate change may have large impacts on the availability, quality, and cost of water to meet consumer demands.

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      Global Climate Change: A Primer Global Climate Change: A Primer
      Global Climate Change: A Primer Global Climate Change: A Primer
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