Easy-to-Understand Essay About our Climate Crisis
Here is an easy-to-understand explanation of the problem, causes and practical solutions of climate change in an essay of about 1,000 words. For answers to frequently asked questions, see: 50 Climate Change FAQs and also 50 Global Warming FAQs.
The facts are not in dispute. Our planet is getting hotter; our rainforests are rapidly disappearing; our oceans are losing oxygen, corals and other marine life; our ice is melting much faster than expected in both the Arctic and Antarctica; and sea levels are rising. And frankly, we have no one to blame but ourselves. See also: What is the Root Cause of Climate Change?
The Causes of Climate Change
Basically we’re making two major mistakes. First, we’re burning too much fossil fuel, like coal, oil and natural gas. This produces massive emissions of so-called greenhouse gases, which end up in the atmosphere where they trap heat escaping from the Earth. This heat-trapping process is the No 1. cause of global warming.
Second, we’re squandering the planet’s resources by following unsustainable practices. For example, we’re cutting down far too many carbon-rich trees to make space for crops. Cutting down trees and burning wood creates more CO2 emissions and more global warming. In addition, we’re using intensive-farming techniques that kill beneficial insects and pollinators (like bees, who pollinate 70 of the 100 or so crop species that feed 90 percent of the world), deplete the soil, and produce polluted runoff thereby releasing more heat-trapping gases.
We’re also catching too many fish. In the early 1990s, for example, stocks of cod in the Northern Atlantic were overfished until the species collapsed, ruining the Canadian cod fishing industry. Today, almost 90 percent of the world’s fish stocks are either fully exploited, overexploited or depleted.
Rising temperatures are also warming our oceans, which is causing huge problems for marine life. Fish are suffocating because of deoxygenation, there are whole coastal areas where oxygen levels are so low that they become ‘dead zones’. The other major problem is ocean acidification. At least 25 percent of all human generated CO2 is absorbed by sea water. This CO2 is changing the chemistry of the water, making it more acidic. A small change in the pH of seawater can cause harmful effects on marine life’s ability to reproduce, grow and even how they communicate with each other.
We must change our behavior. We must use fewer fossil fuels and more sustainable energy instead. If we don’t do this, then global warming will get worse and worse, until we have no choice. But by then it could be too late. Sea level rise, for instance, could be unstoppable.
As well as using a lot less fossil fuel, we must stop destroying our rainforests, and we need to introduce more sustainable techniques into our farming and fishing industries, in order to safeguard our resources until the arrival of ‘miracle-technology’.
Climate Change Involves The Whole World
Make no mistake, no one country (or even group of countries) can solve our climate crisis – it needs the combined efforts of all countries.
For details of international efforts to combat global warming, please see our article: UN Climate Talks & Timeline.
Richer Nations Must Pay More
Poorer countries don’t have the money to introduce the renewable energies and sustainable practices needed. So richer countries need to step up – out of self-interest. And it’s also the right thing to do. See: Ethics of Climate Change.
Sorry, But We Need to Consume Less Energy
Nobody likes the idea of consuming less energy. It violates the rule that the future should always bring ‘more’. Unfortunately, energy consumption in most developed countries is still around 4-5 times higher than in most developing countries. This indicates that as developing countries become more developed (with more factories, houses, cars, and other material goods) global energy consumption will increase substantially, even if there is no net increase in population.
But as we know, global population is set to rise dramatically – from 7.7 billion people (2020) to 11.2 billion (2100) – an increase of 45 percent. In reality, therefore, energy consumption is going to increase significantly. This is already evident in the recent increase in coal consumption in India and China, as both countries seek to expand their production of electricity.
Want to Help The Planet?
See our article How To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint.
Renewables Are Struggling to Keep Up
As of March 2020, roughly 80-85 percent of the world’s energy comes from fossil fuels. What’s more, in areas like heating and transport, fossil fuels like natural gas and petroleum tend to dominate. To reverse this situation, the world needs to (a) invest a lot more money in developing renewables and (b) increase renewable power capacity. At present, both investment and rate of increase in renewable capacity are in decline.
In addition, since fossil fuels will be needed until at least the end of the century, governments need to build a new relationship with fossil fuel companies, in order to get them to reduce the amount of carbon gases in their fuels – a process known as decarbonization.
It’s great to be passionate and idealistic about creating a totally clean planet with no greenhouse gases and no pollution, but your climate change essay should avoid utopianism. The truth is, while fossil fuels can and should be sharply reduced, we’re going to need them for quite a while yet. What’s more, COVID-19 surely teaches us that there’s a limit to the amount of change that people can tolerate. See also: Effect of COVID-19 on Climate Change.
Extremism Can’t Solve the Problem
When faced by climate change, some people prefer to adopt a business-as-usual (do-nothing) approach. Perhaps they are worried about losing money or their job, if fossil fuels are phased out. Maybe they don’t trust ‘greens’. Or maybe they have faith in future technology to solve the problem. Either way, the business-as-usual (do-nothing) approach can’t stop the ice melting or the seas rising.
At the other end of the spectrum are the climate activists who want governments to take immediate, radical action to limit global warming.
In their zeal and commitment to the health of the planet, they are an inspiration to the rest of us. Unfortunately, their uncompromising ideology often alienates the silent majority whose support they need. So the activist approach can’t solve the problem either.
The climate doomers and followers of Jem Bendell, author of Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy, are no more convincing, and in any case tend to focus on self-reliance and survival skills, rather than a national or international plan.
It seems clear that, in order to solve the problem, we need a more pragmatic approach – one that a large number of ordinary people can get behind. You should definitely emphasize this in your climate change essay.
A Pragmatic Approach to Climate Change is Best
We need determined but reasonable climate action policies, capable of uniting a large percentage of people. So, for example, they must not impose unfair burdens on any particular group of people.
We need governments that can (a) persuade fossil fuel companies to develop low or no-emission fuels; (b) organize sufficient infrastructure to support electric vehicles; (c) provide realistic options for everyone to reduce their carbon footprint and develop sustainable habits.
In this respect, the reports produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change provide a very clear summary of the climate science involved, together with suggestions about how to move forward.
Yes, governments must take the leading role, but it is up to all of us to choose clean energy options, and consume less energy overall.
These are minimum goals to aim for. But they do require us to demand more from our elected representatives, and to change our personal expectations and habits. If we can’t do this then the outcome is unavoidable: no more planet. 1 2 3 For a less optimistic viewpoint, see: Our Climate Plan Can’t Cope.
For some fascinating facts to add to your climate change essay, please check out: History of Earth in One Year.
Here are a few more resources for your climate change essay.
- What is Climate Change Denial?
- Why Does a Half-Degree Rise in Temperature Matter?
- When Did Global Warming Start?
- Effects of Global Warming on Humans