According to the US government’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 2016 was the hottest year on record for the third consecutive year, with a global average temperature of 0.99°C higher than the average recorded from the years 1951 to 1980.

Climate change, or the global differences in climate phenomenon, has many causes: energy from volcanic eruptions, changes in the Earth’s orbit, the movement of tectonic plates, and even oscillations in the atmosphere and ocean systems of the Pacific – events which we call El Niño’s and La Niña’s.

However, the majority of scientists agree that the earth’s warming during the mid-20th century is largely to be associated with emissions of heat-trapping gases caused by human activity. Human activity, especially since the Industrial Revolution, has caused a spike in the emission of greenhouse gases, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. These gases in the atmosphere lead to greater absorption of the sun’s energy by the earth, causing global warming. This in turn hastens the melting of the ice glaciers in the Northern Hemisphere, ocean acidification, oxygen depletion, and the sea level rise. Here in the Philippines, possible effects of climate change are increased amounts of rainfall and extreme weather conditions.

There is general consensus in the scientific community that the rapid increase in the average temperature of the Earth over the past several decades comes indeed from humans. Global unity is needed to address the human causes of climate change. Several meetings of world leaders have already been held, culminating with the 196 countries of the United Nations signing the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in 2016. This is an enormous step in the right direction, with each country being accountable for its own greenhouse gas emissions and setting targets to lower their emissions in the coming years.

However, it is not just world leaders and governments that must act. All of us must take care of the Earth, our home, to maintain it as a healthy, livable habitat. We must all do something about it. We – you and I – can help make it happen. We can be energy efficient, re-use the things we buy, choose environment-friendlier options and reduce our waste.

Climate change is here! Climate change is real! Climate change is our responsibility!

Katherine Bulan

Katherine or Kat Bulan, a graduate of B.S. Applied Physics UP Diliman (2014), is taking up Master’s degree in Statistics at UP Diliman, and is concurrently a Data Scientist at Voyager Innovations (a subsidiary of Smart Communications involved in the development and delivery of digital services).

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