By Ece Uyguç*
One of the most current and perhaps the most important issues in the world we encounter is climate change and global warming as its consequence. This is even more dangerous than the Covid-19 pandemic that the entire world is trying to deal with. Unfortunately, we have fallen short of the only solution to this, which is creating awareness among people to determine a collective strategy. Due to this failure, we have to deal with disasters such as floods, fires, and droughts.
Maybe some of us know how this climate change affects our planet, yet the vast majority of people are ignorant or lack knowledge on this crisis. This climate crisis is causing great damage to all the living things on earth, and as we learn more about it, we see that its dimensions are far beyond our estimation.
Why and how does climate change occur?
Climate change occurs for two reasons. The first is the change that occurs naturally, and the second is caused by human beings. The issue of climate change, which we refer to as a problem in the world, is the type that arises from the actions of people because we are experiencing incidents that can occur naturally in a hundred thousand years in a short period of 100 years.
The negative impact of humans on climate change is a process that started with the excavation of fossil fuels. To give a clear history, it takes us to the industrial revolution, that is, the start of steam trains by extracting coal from the ground in the 1750s.
In the IPCC’s (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) released in 2014, most of the increase observed in average surface temperatures since the middle of the 20th century is most likely (95%) due to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions. This finding is based on stronger and more concrete evidence than the previous IPCC Assessment Report.
The role of oceans on global warming
It is not only the lands that take their share from global warming. Of course, the water resources that makeup three-quarters of the world are also affected. The main causes of the warming of the oceans are carbon dioxide and increased greenhouse gas emissions.
Most of the trapped heat is stored in the oceans affecting the water temperature and circulation. The rise in ocean temperature melts the ice at the poles, reducing the amount of sunlight reflected into space. The result is a warmer world vis-à-vis the changes in ocean currents.
The oceans have a very active role in balancing the global system. The oceans provide energy and heat to our world through their currents and also control the climate. By strengthening the natural greenhouse effect, the oceans play a role in removing most of the human-induced carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere, which is the most important factor in global warming.
Considering that the oceans take one out of every four carbon dioxide sent to the atmosphere, it is not difficult to understand the vital importance of the oceans.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS)
Greenhouse gas emissions from the use of fossil fuels cause intense carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. The issue of capturing and sequestering carbon emissions has an important place in the fight against global climate change. It is possible to capture and trap the released carbon dioxide, and with the help of this, greenhouse gas emissions are greatly reduced and global warming is slowed down.
All fossil fuels contain carbon and they combine it with oxygen to form carbon dioxide during combustion. For this reason, separating the carbon existing in the fuels before (pre-combustion) or after the combustion process (post-combustion) prevents the carbon dioxide emission in the atmosphere.
The Kyoto Protocol was signed in 1997 internationally for the first time on the subject of slowing down global climate change, and it entered into force in 205 due to a complex ratification process. This international agreement target an average of five percent emission reduction over the five-years 2008–2012 compared to 1990 levels.
These reductions can be achieved in three different ways:
• Capture and storage of the released carbon dioxide gas
• Use of renewable energy sources
• Increases in energy efficiency and decrease in energy demand
Carbon storage in oceans and coasts
One of the methods used to capture and store carbon is carbon storage in the oceans. For example, microscopic algae called phytoplankton, like all other plants, absorb carbon during photosynthesis, thus reducing the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Therefore, it is vital to protect the biodiversity in the oceans.
Besides, the sedimentary basins located on the coastlines have a large capacity for carbon dioxide storage. Namely, in Norway, an oil country, the increase in taxes on fossil fuel carbon emissions has made it cheaper to bury carbon dioxide on the seabed than to release it into the atmosphere. Consequently, over 16 million tons of carbon dioxide released from the Sleipner power plant was liquefied and pumped into a deep saline reservoir 1,000 meters below sea level.
Blue carbon ecosystem
Blue carbon is the term for carbon captured by coastal ecosystems, including salt marshes, seagrasses or mangroves, and oceans around the world.
Although these ecosystems cover much smaller areas than the forests, they retain carbon much faster and continue to hold for years when carbon is trapped underwater, away from the atmosphere. It is for this reason that the term “blue carbon” was coined in 2009.
Globally, coastal ecosystems contribute, on average, over $190 billion in blue carbon wealth. Leading contributor countries are Australia, Indonesia, and Cuba respectively. Australia alone generates more than $22 billion in net benefits per year.
Climate change is the biggest threat to every individual living in the world and every human being to be born, or more precisely, to all living things. If we live in this world, on this planet, each of us must be conscious, take responsibility, and make it our duty to raise awareness of other people against this growing danger.
In this article, I talked about some techniques that can slow down climate change and global warming. Of course, these are only some of the measures to be taken and they are not sufficient to return our planet to its normal course.
It is very pleasing to hear that big companies such as Amazon are leading the way and are involved in various climate agreements. In line with this, Amazon President Jeff Bezos committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2040 by purchasing 100,000 electric pickup trucks.
We hope that all global companies will follow the track by creating awareness around the world. Since we are running behind to save the world from this danger, we must act quickly by improving our methods of struggle and accelerating our practices. We must prevent this damage that we have done with our own hands and leave a beautiful world for our future.
*Ece Uyguç is an economist, a certified English – Turkish translator and an opinion writer. Currently studying international relations. This article was also published at Medium.com