Climate change is one of the most important challenges currently facing humanity and will continue to be a major problem not only due to its complex and pervasive nature but also because of its long-term impact on sustainable development. Climate change is the transformation of weather patterns and average temperatures statistically over time. As a contemporary issue, climate change usually refers to the phenomenon of global warming. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, human activity has increased the amount of carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse gasses" in the atmosphere. This change in the chemical makeup of the atmosphere has trapped additional energy from the sun that would otherwise have been radiated away from the planet, and has led to a measurable rise in the Earth's average temperature. There is broad scientific consensus that global warming is occurring. The extent and rate of temperature increase, as well as appropriate political and economic responses, are at the center of much debate today.
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Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the burning of fossil fuels has contributed to the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from 280ppm to 390ppm, despite the uptake of a large portion of the emissions through various natural "sinks" involved in the carbon cycle. Carbon dioxide emissions come from combustion of carbonaceous fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas. CO2 is a product of ideal, stoichiometric combustion of carbon, although few combustion processes are ideal, and burning coal for example, also produces carbon monoxide. Since 2000 fossil fuel related carbon emissions have equaled or exceeded the IPCC's "A2 scenario", except for small dips during two global recessions.
Goal initiatives to mitigation and adaptation:
A global commitment to a concerted effort under the United Nations system began in 1992 with the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its entry into force upon ratification by the required number of signatories in 1994. Its objective is "to achieve, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Convention, stabilization of greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner." (United Nations 1992). In achieving this objective it was fully realised that there are different national circumstances, complexities, and responsibilities among and within nations, as articulated in the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. A comprehensive climate change strategy encompasses coherent policies and actions with respect to mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation involves reducing GHG emissions and enhancing carbon dioxide (CO2) sinks aimed at reducing the extent of global warming. Adaptation refers to the sensitivity, vulnerability and adjustment capacity of natural and human systems to climate change and its potential consequences.
All countries will need to undertake both adaptation and mitigation measures though the extent of these measures will depend on their respective national circumstances and sustainable development criteria and goals. The LDCs will be able to focus their limited resources and capacities more on adaptation than on mitigation measures. Developing countries with greater capacities and potential for mitigation will need both mitigation and adaptation measures, while developed countries will be able to focus their much larger capacities on mitigation. Undertaking sustainable development actions requires full consideration of the three dimensions of sustainable development, namely the social, environmental and economic dimensions. Within the social sector, the following factors should be considered: poverty reduction, preservation of culture and heritage, popular consultation and empowerment to enable popular participation. Within the environmental sector, consideration should be given to reduction of pollution of all types, rational use of natural resources and development of resilience to environmental shocks. Within the economic sector, the factors for consideration are economic growth and efficiency while maintaining political stability. Issues such as inter-generational equity and equity among different social groups are of paramount importance. Equity and fairness need to be the guiding principles of such a development paradigm. Undertaking such sustainable development actions can affect success in achieving climate change stabilisation because the measures outlined above lead to a reduction in GHG emissions (IPCC 2000a).
Psychological contributions on climate change:
Psychologists are playing a key role by psychological associations around the world to communicate their deep concern at the gravity and urgency of the climate change crisis, and the need for psychology's active involvement and commitment in ongoing collaborative work at national and international levels to address the human causes and consequences of climate change. The role psychologists can play may be different from what many people expect. Psychological contributions to limiting climate change will come not from trying to change people's attitudes, but by helping to make low-carbon technologies more attractive and user-friendly, economic incentives more transparent and easier to use, and information more actionable and relevant to the people who need it.
Psychologists can use interventions drawn from disaster psychology and support long-term adjustment that recognizes varied responses to natural and technological disasters. It is identified psychological impacts of climate change as acute and direct mental health injuries associated with extreme weather, natural disasters and degraded environments; indirect impacts, such as anxiety and uncertainty; and psychosocial impacts, including heat-related violence, conflicts over resources, migrations, dislocations and chronic environmental stress.
The greenhouse gas is a gas in an atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of the climate change. The primary greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone. In the Solar System, the atmospheres of Venus, Mars, and Titan also contain gases that cause greenhouse effects. Greenhouse gases greatly affect the temperature of the Earth; without them, Earth's surface would be on average about 33 °C (59 °F) colder than at present.
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