Challenges for the planet

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  • Challenges for the planet
    • Causes of climate change
      • Natural causes (often linked to development of ice ages)
        • solar output: the amount of energy given off by the sun
        • orbital geometry: circular orbits result in cold, glacial periods. elliptical orbits result in warmer periods
        • the Milankovitch mechanism: variation in Earth's orbit of sun, Earth wobbles on axis, angle of Earth's tilt varies
        • volcanic eruptions: mt Laki in 1783 released so much ash that it blocked the sun
      • Human causes
        • increased wealth has led to demand for energy, foods, goods and transport
          • increased emission of greenhouse gases
            • carbon dioxide production- rapid increase in the last 100 years from burning of fossil fuels and car exhausts
        • increased car ownership
          • increased emission of greenhouse gases
            • carbon dioxide production- rapid increase in the last 100 years from burning of fossil fuels and car exhausts
    • The negative effects of climate change
      • crop yields (the amount of food a field can produce) drops when temp are more or less than the optimum
        • places like USA and Canada will be badly affected as they export 43.7% (2007) of world's wheat
          • demand for food will increase due to reduced harvests
            • food price will rise due to scarcity
              • sub-saharan Africa will be badly affected with increased cases of malnutrition
      • land based ice sheets may melt
        • sea levels could rise
          • low-lying land (Bangladesh and the Maldives) most at threat from coastal flooding
            • coastal settlements and farmland could be flooded
              • may result in loss of crop harvest, houses being destroyed leading to increases in disease
    • Responses to Climate Change
      • sustainable living:
        • reduce energy waste- turn down heating, loft and wall insulation etc
        • buy local produce
        • reduce, reuse, recycle
        • use the car less
        • save water- water butt etc
      • several world conferences have been held to discuss these issues
        • 1988- UN set up IPCC- 1st report showed Earth had warmed by 0.5 degrees in last 100 years
          • 1992- Rio Earth Summit
            • 1997- Kyoto Protocol
              • 2007- Bali
                • 2009- Copenhagen Accord
                  • 2011- Durban S. Africa
        • there is no agreement on: is climate change still occurring now? are the causes of climate change human or natural? should we respond to climate change globally, nationally, locally or individually?
    • Sustainable development
      • is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising (limiting) the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Individuals, governments and organisations have different definitions for the term, these are influenced by their values and attitudes
      • Interface Inc. helps to conserve the environment by:
        • eliminating waste
        • removing toxic substances
        • using renewable energy
      • sustainable transport schemes:
        • Park and Ride schemes (Oxford)
        • Cycle lanes (Brighton)
        • Congestion charging (London)
        • widening roads to allow more traffic
      • public transport will always be more efficent and sustainable than private transport, although public transport is easier in high density cities such as London
    • Oil Extraction- developed in 1972
      • toxic waste or oil spillages may be discharged into water supplies
        • companies are often foreign owned, and any profits go abroad
          • loss of biodiversity as habitats are destroyed and species endangered
            • extraction by-products can cause environmental damage
      • management initiatives: preservation areas set up, education initiatives (ecotourism rainforest exhibitions
    • Palm oil plantations for biofuel use
      • Papua New Guinea- palm oil is now the country's largest agricultural foreign exchange earner, overtaking coffee
        • a move away from traditional land use processes
          • pollution of water sources during construction and operation
            • farmers and owners become dependent on the industry, which can cause a problem if the price of palm oil changes
              • plantations reduce the biodiversity as habitats are destroyed
      • management initiatives: intro of ecotourism, selling of local produce to benefit locol economy, educating main importers on the need to protect tropical forests

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