Climate Change Revision - Physical Geography Essay Example

These changes occurred due to natural causes - Climate Change Revision introduction. Natural causes of climate change are grouped into two categorises, internal and external factors. External Factors Solar Output: The amount of energy released from the sun changes over time. The concentration of sunspots can indicate the amount of solar energy emitted. The more spots there are; the more energy is given off and the warmer our climate is. (0.1% 1980’s) Orbital Patterns: The shape of the earth’s orbit around the sun changes over time. It changes from being virtually circular to being elliptical and back again every 95,000 years. Cold periods in our past have tended to occur during periods of circular orbits.

Internal Factors Volcanic Activity: Volcanic eruptions can release large quantities of ash into the atmosphere. This ash acts like a blanket and blocks out the sun, reducing the amount of solar energy that reaches the Earth. To confuse matters… volcanoes can also release massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, leading to a rise in global temperatures. Surface Reflection: Snow and ice reflect sunlight back to space. Cold periods often getter colder as increased snowfall reflects more and more solar energy back to space.


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Sources of Carbon Dioxide

Petrol and Diesel used in transport

Gas & Coal used in thermal Power Stations

Fossil Fuels used in domestic heating

Sources of Methane

Livestock produce methane as part of their digestive process.

Rotting waste in landfill sites

The warm, waterlogged soil of rice paddies provides ideal conditions for methane production

Clearing trees (deforestation) for farming

1. China 75% of coal is used for energy production

CROP YEILDS CHANGING: Countries closer to the equator the more likely to suffer as crop yields failing. Tanzania & Mozambique will have longer drought periods and shorter growing seasons, meaning the could lose â of its maize crop, the forecast in India there will be a 50% decrease in the amount of land available to grow wheat, due to hotter drier weather.

Possible disadvantages of climate change for the UK

Plant and animal species living in high mountains could become extinct (e.g. alpine plants & arctic hares).

Tropical diseases, such as malaria, could spread to the UK.

There will be more storms & floods, if homes and factories continue to be built on floodplains the cost of flood damage increases.

Low-lying areas near sea level (e.g. the fens) could be flooded unless sea defences are strengthened.

Possible disadvantages of climate change:

Crops can be grown further north due to warmer weather.

Drier conditions in the Russian steps may reduce crop yields.

Reduced snowfall leading to the closure of alpine resorts.

Drier conditions may lead to the expansion of deserts into heavily populated areas, such as California.

What can be done to reduce the threat of Climate Change?

Most world leaders now accept that climate change is a threat, and that something needs to be done about it. It seems certain that responsibility for action will lie mainly with HICs as these nations have been, and still are, the major global polluters.


1988: The IPCC (international Panel on Climate Change) set to investigate whether our actions were resulting in Climate Change.

1992: The United Nations held their first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The meeting resulted in the first international environmental treaty, which aimed to stabilise greenhouse emissions.

1997: Kyoto protocol lead to legally binding targets carbon reduction targets. Signatories agreed to reduce carbon levels to 5% below 1990 levels.

2007: (Bali), 2009 (Copenhagen) and 2011 (Durban): Talks aimed at agreeing new targets to replace the Kyoto Protocols. These talks have also agreed global actions for helping countries affected by climate change, such as providing funding for coastal defences.


A range of local actions has been taken by charities, councils and individuals to encourage us to live more sustainably. These include:

School’s: “Livesimply” is a campaign, which ran throughout 2007, initiated by the Catholic Church to encourage students to consider their impact on the environment, world & sustainability. Many schools are introducing: 1) energy efficient water 2) central heating system using renewable sources like wind turbines. 3) Notices to switch off lights.

NGO (non-gov. organisations:

Greenpeace are focusing their campaign against climate change on the use of fossil fuels, trying to get governments to change their polices so that energy is produced in a sustainable way.

1) â of energy in cooling towers is lost, due to inefficient power stations, if energy was based on a renewable fuel, it would reduce use of fossil fuel

2) 22% of UK’s carbon emissions come from transport, public transport more efficient, low carbon cars, reduce amount of airports & tax flights making it more expensive to travel.


Challenges For The Planet Part II


Sustainable Development: Development, which meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs off the future generation1) Conservation & enhancement of the environment with new technologies

2) Achievement of social equality by developing countries being allowed to meet basic needs of employment, food, energy, water& sanititation.

3) Economic growth of all countries

These ideas have been developed over the past 30 years, and the values of the Brundtland report were reinstated in 1997 @ UNESCO meeting in Paris. Stating:

Natural resources should be used reasonably

Life should not be harmed by modifications to ecosystems

Technological progress shouldn’t harm life on Earth.

In the UK 4 key sustainable areas have been identified:

1) Climate change & energy: Reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and preparing for climate change that cannot be avoided 2) Natural resources: the limits of the natural resources that sustain life, so that they are used much more efficiently

3) Sustainable communities: Places that people live and work in, can have rules implemented on them to ensure methods are sustainable, i.e. ecotowns & green energy.

4) Sustainable consumption & production: the ways the products are designed, manufactured used & disposed off.

Large companies can achieve & encourage sustainable lifestyles in 4 ways:

1) During manufacturing

2) Recycling packaging material

3) Encouraging customers to recycle

4) Encouraging employees to be more sustainable in the workplace.

Nokia –Communications Company:

Concerned people don’t recycle phones

50% of mobile phone users switch phones every year;

44% of phones are left in cupboards & drawers never to be used again

Nokia is trying to persuade people to hand in their old phones to recycling centres, because 100% is recyclable

If every phone user recycled; 240,000 tonnes of raw materials would be saved

Nokia are promoting this in their stores and have a catchy jingle on their website,

Ways gases have been dealt with in coal-fired power stations:

Carbon dioxide:

Capture from flue gases. Technology to do this consists of amine scrubbers, which use amine solutions to get rid of 98% of carbon dioxide from waste gases.

Sulfur dioxide:

Many power stations have systems that remove 60%, if scrubbers are added increases to 95%efficentcy, in Germany this has already been applied, due to large amounts of forest being eaten away by acid rain from the UK and other countries.

Nitrous oxide: Most power stations have systems fitted that will remove up to 70% of nitrogen emissions

Stability in the workplace:

1 The use of video conferencing reduces carbon footprint. 2 The internet is being used more often documents are sent via email less paper is used due to easy accessibility and altering 3.Tourist destinations provide a variety of ways to recycle.

Management of transport in urban areas:

Car ownership is growing most rapidly in LIC’s, in Delhi the number of vehicles in the city has grown to ½ a million in 1970, to more than 5 million.

Two ways to manage traffic control in urban areas:

1) Respond to the increasing demand by building more roads, this however helps congestion, but will eventually lead to more vehicles and increase in pollution levels

2) Reduce traffic with a range of sustainable schemes, these will help to alleviate the problems of congestion & pollution.

Sustainable transport schemes:

Congestion charging, motorists pay to travel into large urban areas, which reduces the number of vehicles on the road, and so the level of emissions will decrease.

Singapore was the first city to introduce congestion charges, since 1974, now Oslo, Stockholm & London, have introduced it.

London 2003:

By 2008 had the following beneficial effects:

Traffic reduced by 21%

<65,000 cars a day (less than)

12% increase in cycle journeys

12% reduction in emission of nitrous oxide & fine particulates

Durham drop in congestion by 85% by 2002

Park & ride:

Cambridge, has 5 P&R sites covering the main routes coming into the city, the Madingly and Trumpington road sites next to M11 and Milton & Newmarket road sites are close to A14 making it easier to drive into Cambridge, 4,500 parking spaces available double decker buses carry up to 70 people, every 10 minutes, costing £2.20 per day.

Designated cycle and walking paths Milton Keyes is the best served area, with 273km of cycle paths.

Mining in Brazil:

Carajas mining project uses wood from the forest to power it’s pig iron plants resulting in 6100 km deforestation annually,

Mercury is used in gold mining, and 90% of the fish caught in the River Tapajos is contaminated, causing cancer and miscarriage among local tribes people

In the state of Roraima there have been conflicts with the Yanamamo Indians & gold prospectors.

Oil extraction in Ecuador

Toxic wastewater mixed with crude oil, seeps out of 600 unlinined pits into subsoil, polluting freshwater and farmland

Hydrocarbons are 200-300 times more concentrated in the water and if consumed causes stomach cancer & miscarriages with the indigenous Huaorani.

Plants such as periwinkle that can cure childhood leukaemia are an endangered species.

Logging in Cameroon:

Roads built by the logging companies have opened up the forest to illegal logging and commercial hunting, leading to slaughtering of elephants gorillas & chips whose meat is sold to expensive restaurants.

Baka pigmies are employed to show the best trees, causing them to unwittingly destroy their own environment

If given work in the sawmill, they aren’t given protective clothing, and the wood is treated with toxic chemicals against parasites and fungus, entering the workers lungs. Tropical Rainforest management: There are a range of management measures that can be used to help protect rainforests from future destruction and damage. Perhaps one of the most effective actions involves governments taking control of forest regions and then banning resource extraction. E.g. In French Guiana the government has refused to allow a gold mine, after research showed that the mine could adversely affect a rainforest reserve and Ramsar-listed wetland. Similarly, the Malaysian government rejected plans to build a coal power station, as the site was too close to an ecological sensitive area.

Some of the most effective management strategies have resulted from governments working in partnership with private organisations. In Madagascar, the government teamed up with Swiss perfume manufacturer, Givaudan. The government gave Givaudan sole rights to an area of pristine forest in a deal where the Swiss firm promised to give a percentage of any profits made from perfumes based on local plants to nearby villages to help finance for public projects, such as new schools and health centres.

Another good example of a government/private partnership effectively managing resource extraction is in Costa Rica where the government has allowed Merck, an American pharmaceutical firm, to manage an area of forest where plants used in medicines grow in return for a percentage of the profits made from any products sold.

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