How is meat related to global warming?

Climate change explained

What is climate change?

Climate change has always existed on earth. Since these warming and lowering of the temperature happened very slowly, nature always had enough time to prepare for the upcoming changes. But right now the earth is dealing with man-made global warming. Compared to previous changes, this is happening very quickly, which could have catastrophic consequences for the environment, animals and people.
Over the past 100 years, researchers have measured an average temperature increase of around 0.8 ° C. By the year 2100, climate change is expected to increase by up to 6.5 ° C if nothing is done about it. Serious effects such as floods of the century, droughts and gigantic cyclones will already occur from 2 ° C. Climate change is caused by the greenhouse effect.

What is the greenhouse effect?

The earth is surrounded by an invisible shell of the atmosphere. The atmosphere consists of various greenhouse gases, such as water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4). When the sun shines on the earth, the rays hit the earth's surface and are reflected off of it. Most of the rays are thrown back into space, but some remain “stuck” in the atmosphere and now warm the earth.
Like climate change, the greenhouse effect has always existed. But when more and more greenhouse gases (especially CO2) get into the atmosphere through humans, more and more rays “hang” there and the earth warms up more and more.

How do humans cause global warming?

Humans cause the greenhouse effect, and thus global warming, in many different ways. The two worst causes are CO2 and methane.
With airplanes, cars and factories, humans blow a lot of CO2 into the air.
But the harmful greenhouse gas is also released into the air through agriculture or energy consumption. Methane, for example, is a real climate killer, which is mainly emitted by cattle. A methane molecule is about 40 times more harmful to the climate than a carbon dioxide molecule. Regular meat consumption is also very harmful to the climate.

Through the so-called ice core drilling, scientists can prove that the earth is currently experiencing global warming. When drilling ice cores, researchers drill deep into the Greenland, Arctic and Antarctic ice to extract ice that was formed thousands and hundreds of thousands of years ago. Small air bubbles are trapped in the ice samples, which scientists can use to determine how high the CO2 concentration was on Earth when the sample was created. The researchers have found out that there has never been a higher concentration of the greenhouse gas on earth than it is today.

What is happening to our earth?

Climate change has many consequences, most of which so far mainly affect poor people in Africa and Asia, as changes in weather make harvests worse and rain more and more often (or too heavy). But there are also more and more forest fires, landslides and floods. So far, the glaciers, Greenland, the Arctic and the Antarctic have been most affected, as more and more snow is melting there.

There are two differences between the ice in Greenland and the ice in the South Pole and North Pole. First, the Greenland Ice Sheet lies on land and the Arctic-and-Antarctic Ice swims in the ocean. Second, the Arctic and Antarctic Ice is about two to three meters thick and the Greenland Ice is about two to three kilometers thick. So when the Greenland Ice Sheet melts, sea levels will rise by about seven meters and large cities like London, Hamburg and Amsterdam will be flooded. If the global warming of 6.5 ° C occurs, the Greenland ice is sure to melt, but it will likely melt at 2 ° C.

Of course, it shouldn't come to that, and that's why a lot of people are doing something about climate change. Actually, politicians should do much more here, but since Copenhagen it no longer looks as if there will be a political solution.

What is politics actually doing?

Unfortunately, politics is not doing much about global warming. Many politicians pretend they are working to fight climate change, but this is often just a strategy to get more sympathy. In some countries, governments and individual politicians are sometimes even bribed by large companies, for example, to oppose a planned CO2 emissions law. Since 1995, however, there have been COPs (Conference of the Parties), at which politicians from many countries negotiate how to reduce CO2 emissions. Unfortunately, the result is usually not much, so far only the so-called 2-degree target.

The 2-degree target is a goal of international climate policy to limit CO2 emissions to a maximum of 2 ° C compared to the level before the 20th century. Since then, the average temperature has risen by around 0.7 ° C, which is still 1.3 ° C.
But why exactly 2 ° C? If the average temperature rose above this limit, the Greenland ice sheet would melt completely and the sea level would rise by about seven meters. Even if the 2-degree target is theoretically feasible, it does not yet look like it will be implemented politically worldwide.
Some island states even advocate a 1.5 ° C because their islands would likely be flooded if the average temperature rises above that limit.

Climate change can no longer be completely stopped since it has already started, but we can still significantly mitigate the effects, but a lot must be done to create a future for all of us that is worth living in. We must prevent greenhouse gas emissions from rising by 2050, and this can only be achieved if we all help together! Planting trees helps, but there is a lot more that can be done!

Trees are very important for our climate because they convert CO2 into oxygen (O2) through photosynthesis. To do this, they primarily need sunlight, water and nutrients. How much carbon dioxide a tree binds in a year depends on its size, type and environment. B. around 12.5 kg CO2 per year. Planting trees is a great way to do something good for the environment and the climate and it can be really fun!

Everyone can and must do something to stop climate change. Perhaps most importantly, switching to renewable energies as soon as possible. Even in everyday life, small things can have a big impact. For example, you should use public transport more often or ride a bike straight away. You should drink drinking water from the tap (which is at least as healthy as from bottles) and buy organic fruit and vegetables from the region. Eating less meat can also save considerable amounts of greenhouse gases. Saving energy is also very important. There are many ways to make a difference!

Niklas, the author of this text, is 13 years old and is committed to Plant for the Planet and the JBN to stop climate change.