Climate Change: A Threat of the Era

  • Abhijit Mitra


Weather changes all the time. It is highly dynamic in nature. The average pattern of weather, called climate, usually remains uniform for centuries if it is left to itself. However, the Earth is not being left alone. People are taking multidimensional actions that are gradually changing the morphology, physiology and anatomy of the planet Earth and its climate in large scale. The single human activity that is most likely to have a large impact on the climate is the burning of ‘fossil fuels’ such as coal, oil and natural gas. These fuels contain carbon. Burning them liberates carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere. Since the early 1800s, when people started burning large amounts of coal and oil, the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere has increased by nearly 30 %, and average global temperature appears to have risen between 1 and 2 °F. This increment of temperature is keenly related to the basic property of the gas. Carbon dioxide gas traps solar heat in the atmosphere, partly in the same way as glass traps solar heat in a sunroom or a greenhouse. For this reason, carbon dioxide is sometimes called a ‘greenhouse gas’. As more carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere, solar heat faces more trouble in getting out. The result is that, if everything else remains unchanged, the average temperature of the atmosphere would increase. With increased rate of industrialization and urbanization, the demand for fossil-fuel-based energy has hiked up. As people burn more fossil fuels for energy, they add more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. This creates a blanket of carbon dioxide over the Earth’s surface, which allows only the short waves of the sun to penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere, but prevents the long-wave radiations (emitted from the Earth’s surface) to get out. If this activity continues for a long period of time, the average temperature of the atmosphere will almost certainly rise. This is commonly referred to as global warming. Global warming is thus the increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s near-surface air and oceans in recent decades and its projected continuation. The term ‘global warming’ is a subset of the universal set climate change, which also encompasses another subset called ‘global cooling’. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) uses the term ‘climate change’ for human-induced changes and ‘climate variability’ for other changes. Climate change is therefore any long-term significant change in the ‘average weather’ that a given region experiences and involves changes in the variability or average state of the atmosphere over durations ranging from decades to millions of years. The roots of these changes can be related to several dynamic processes on Earth, external forces including variations in sunlight intensity and more recently by human activities.


Global Warming Tropical Cyclone Bengal Basin Average Global Temperature Himalayan Glacier 

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Copyright information

© Springer India 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Abhijit Mitra
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Marine ScienceUniversity of CalcuttaKolkataIndia

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