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[EV0301] Topic overview – Climate Change and Water


Topic content

Reasons and mechanism for climate change

The fact that Climate change is real is obvious. Some scientists however argue whether these changes are part of natural processes or caused by humans.  

It’s a fact that emission of carbon dioxide, (CO2) and methane, is a result of human activities. The high concentration of these and other greenhouse gasses cause the rise in air temperature.  

The following mechanism is in place:

We know that the earth receives thermal energy from the sun. We also know that the atmosphere is not heated by direct sunlight – first the surface of the earth is heated and then the air at the edge of the earth moves upwards and eventually warms the atmosphere. Until now, much of the heat received by the Earth has been reflected by the upper layers of the atmosphere and scattered back into space. That is how the earth was receiving a more or less optimal amount of thermal energy.

What is happening now? Concentrations of CO2, methane, and other heat gases create a greenhouse-like mechanism that prevents heat energy from scattering back into space from the earth. This creates a kind of greenhouse effect that contributes to global warming. This mechanism of the greenhouse effect is considered to be one of the causes of climate change.

It should also be noted that methane gas is concentrated in significant amounts in ice (superficial glaciers and perennial dry areas). When the CO2 concentration rises, the temperature rises and the ice melts, a huge amount of methane is released. This further accelerates the process of global warming.


How will climate change continue in the future?

It is suggested that if our industrial and household activities do not change, then the average temperature rise in the 21st century will be much more noticeable than it was in the 20th century. At this point, according to current calculations, the average temperature rise on Earth will be between 1.8 and 4 degrees.

Scientists do different types of modeling to determine the rise in temperature on Earth. The computer models created differ from one another in terms of the concentration of thermal gases emitted as a result of human activities, regions, climatic conditions, and other characteristics.

For example, projection results show that temperatures on land will rise more than on the ocean surface, and also will rise more in highland regions than in lowlands and tropics.


Possible and realistic consequences 

The consequences of climate change can be: sea level rise, catastrophic events, reduced water runoff, desertification, disease spread, biodiversity loss, and damage to ecosystem services.

Specifically for humans the following changes will take place:  the precipitation, which has been distributed throughout the year, will be able to come in a few days and therefore be harmful. The risk of natural disasters is increasing. Favorable conditions for us are already becoming unfavorable. This is especially noticeable with significant reduction of agricultural lands, deforestation, etc.

The changes that will directly affect humans will be massive. These changes will primarily be reflected in drastic changes to the current precipitation level. In particular, the intensity of precipitation will increase (the monthly, annual norm of precipitation typical for particular area may come at once in a short period of time). This leads to the development of catastrophic natural disasters with corresponding negative consequences.

Droughts will increase, which will have a significant negative impact on agriculture – as a result of the process of soil degradation and desertification, agricultural lands are already significantly reduced. The number of forests will be reduced. As a result of all the above, the conditions of the  currently inhabited part of the Earth will become unusable for life, which will lead to large migration shifts, etc. (Source:…)

One of the consequences of climate change globally may be  the complete change in safe environment. For example, the global decline in water resources may spur a whole new level of threats in terms of state security in countries that are rich in water resources.

Natural disasters

The modern approach is as follows: An event that affects us, such as a hurricane, a flood, is not a natural but a social catastrophe. We need to realize that our damage is caused by our own behavior and not by nature.

For example, we’ve chosen to live in an area  characterized by hurricanes of a certain strength. A hurricane itself is not a disaster but a feature of this particular environment. The fact that we have not built a house with this feature in mind and eventually it collapses during a storm is our problem and not nature’s.

Consider the second example. We chose to live in a valley that was flooded four times during the 20th century and caused destruction and sacrifices. We have to expect similar events to happen again, because that is the nature of this valley. Therefore, during the planning process, it is necessary to take into account how to protect ourselves from similar floods,  to build flood prevention facilities, or to install an early warning sensor system or, if we can not guarantee 100% security, refuse to use the area for housing.

Fun Facts

  • Scientists believe that the Earth has gone through seven periods of freezing and thawing caused by natural factors during its existence. The latest changes to earth are related to human activities and take pace very fast.
  • Sources of thermal gases: energy (35%), agriculture (24%), industry (21%), transport (14%), construction sector (6.4%).
  • In the Mtkvari basin, the average temperature rise in the last decade has been 0.7 ° C. Precipitation has decreased. Glacier melting has intensified (by 30% in the last 50 years), leading to lower water levels in rivers.


Global cooperation

Climate change is a large-scale event and, obviously, it is impossible to have a tangible impact on the process without global cooperation. The International Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) entered into force in 1994 and unites 197 parties (countries).

This international agreement aims to reduce the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and thus prevent dangerous anthropogenic impacts on the Earth’s climate. Conventions of the Parties are held annually within the framework of the Convention, which is in fact the supreme governing body of the Convention. One of the conferences was held in Kyoto in 1997.

Specific limits on greenhouse gas emissions have been set for two groups of countries: more stringent limits for highly developed countries (so-called Annex # 1 countries) and relatively lighter obligations for less developed countries. Later it turned out that the countries in Annex # 2 exceeded the total emission quotas of the countries in Annex # 1, so regardless of the level of development, the question of responsibility of all countries arose.

The next milestone was the Paris Agreement, established in 2016 under the Framework Convention on Climate Change and currently bringing together 195 countries. The long-term goal of the agreement is to maintain the global average temperature at a level that is only 2 ° C higher than the pre-industrial level and the maximum temperature rise does not exceed 1.5 ° C. Under the Treaty of Paris, each member state is obliged to define, plan and carry out the activities necessary to mitigate global warming.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established in 1988 and currently unites 195 member countries. The IPCC regularly publishes assessment reports on climate change, its associated impacts and future risks, and possible alternatives to adaptation and migration. 

Adaptation / Preparation / Mitigation (Mitigation)

Adaptation involves recognizing that the environment is changing and  we need to prepare for a new environment. It is important to define approximate scenarios – where we will be in 50-100 years, what our environment will be like in terms of security, and prepare accordingly. For example, how to change agricultural crops to adapt to that new environment.

The mitigation or mitigation approach involves combating the factors that contribute to climate change. This can be the reduction of thermal gases,  the reduction of fuel and energy consumption, the use of energy efficient technology and building materials, and etc.

Energy saving methods / energy efficiency

The introduction of energy saving methods requires a certain legislative framework that sets minimum standards. For example, energy efficient buildings that are built with materials that meet specific standards are crucial in this regard, and these requirements may also be required and regulated by law. The Law on Energy Efficiency and the Law on Energy Efficiency of Buildings have already been adopted in Georgia.

Less energy consumption at the individual level implies the use of the so-called energy-saving lamps, energy-efficient appliances, etc.

Working with students

  • Description of the mechanism of climate change
  • The impact of climate change on us
  • Opportunities for saving energy
  • Mitigation: What can we do?
  • Adaptation: What can we do?
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