Our guide to understanding and respecting the science behind climate change 2 years ago

Our guide to understanding and respecting the science behind climate change

Brought to you by Science Foundation Ireland, as part of Science Week 2019

While you've likely been hearing a lot of debate over climate change in recent times, it's important to know the science behind it.


Tapping a quick online search for the definition of climate change will show up these results:

"A change in global or regional climate patterns, in particular a change apparent from the mid to late 20th century onwards and attributed largely to the increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by the use of fossil fuels."

While it's one thing to Google the meaning of something, it's another entirely to fully understand it. The science behind climate change is one of the most studied fields of science, but its only in relatively recent times that it's started to come into the public eye a bit more.

Science Week 2019 will run nationwide from 10–17 November, and this year's main focus will be on climate change. Ahead of this year's events, we've teamed up with Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) to help inform those outside the world of science what climate change really means, and what we can do to help stop it.


The raw facts

We mentioned earlier how there has been much debate about climate change in different circles. While that statement is true, the simple fact is that leading experts from all over the world agree that the evidence leaves absolutely no room for doubt.

The Earth's temperature has risen by about 1.9°F since 1880, and a whopping 18 of the 19 hottest years ever recorded have taken place since 2001. While that may not sound like a massive increase on paper, it's having a detrimental effect on everything from the planet's wildlife to sea levels.

(Source: here)


Don't blame it on the weather, man

It seems logical enough to think that the sun, which provides the source of energy for all life, is to blame for climate change. The fact is though that there has actually been a slight decrease in the amount of energy given off the sun in recent decades, so it most certainly isn't to blame.

Greenhouse gasses such as water vapour, carbon dioxide and methane are amongst the biggest contributors, and in short they cause a chemical imbalance in the Earth's atmosphere. This imbalance leads to what is known as the Greenhouse Effect, and when combined with the suns energy it causes the overall increase in temperature.

(Source: here)


The scariest part is how much we don't know

Roughly two thirds of the planet's surface is covered with water, so understandably it's difficult for us to monitor anywhere close to all of it. Off the back of the increased emissions of the aforementioned greenhouse gasses, our oceans have changed greatly over the past few decades, from rising sea levels to lowering pH levels.

Even with the incredible number of scientific research that is taking place to better understand what effect climate change is having on our oceans, we're still only at the tip of the iceberg. Pun intended.

Deforestation is having a major impact


Trees play the important role of absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere, which helps to regulate the climate. Once you start cutting those trees down, they can no longer play that role and the CO2 that would have been absorbed by the trees instead goes into the atmosphere.

Basically trees are one of the few natural layers of protection we have for greenhouse gasses, and cutting them down it putting us at a massive disadvantage.

Science Foundation Ireland, in association with Coillte, is supporting the national effort to plant 440 million trees by 2040. Coillte have kindly provided 30,000 trees to be planted during Science Week.

Trees are essential to our ecosystem, as they reduce carbon and release oxygen into the atmosphere and as the Trillion Trees initiative drives the global movement behind tree planting forward, Science Week wants you to get involved and make a difference in Ireland and find out what trees do for our environment.

(Source: here)

WATCH: Planting trees ahead of Science Week 2019

Science Week 2019 takes place from 10–17 November, to get involved in the climate action conversation follow #ScienceWeek on social media. To find out more about the hundreds of events taking place throughout Ireland or for more information on Science Week visit www.scienceweek.ie.

Brought to you by Science Foundation Ireland, as part of Science Week 2019