The past, present, and future of climate change

past present and future of climate change

Climate change. A topic that’s hard to escape recently. With evident changes happening to our planet on a daily basis, climate change and global warming are finally becoming a topic of serious conversation.

So far in 2022 we’ve seen impacts of climate change across the globe. Earlier this year the temperatures were soaring across Asia, followed by the first ever recording of over 40°C in the UK. As well as the severe temperatures, there has been widespread drought, followed by flooding across continents.

It seems as though the recent evidence of climate change was needed for people to accept climate change. The fact is that scientists have been predicting these changes due to global warming for a long time, and warning that the outcome could be detrimental.

So, what have we learnt from the past? What can we take from the present? And what changes do we need to make for the future?

The history of climate change

Earth’s climate has changed throughout history. In fact, climate change is a naturally occurring phenomenon in which the Earth’s temperature rises and falls. Climate change was discovered way back in 1824. Joseph Fourier established that a planet the size of Earth, sitting in our position from the sun, shouldn’t be as warm as Earth was. Joseph drew the conclusion that the atmosphere was acting as insulation for the planet. Three decades later, Eunice Foote established that carbon dioxide and water vapor in our atmosphere enclose infrared radiation. In the 1860’s a physicist names John Tyndall discovered that changes in the atmosphere could cause changes to the Earth’s climate. Less than a century later, Guy Callendar made the connection between carbon dioxide and global warming.

Climate change at present

Climate change is still, unfortunately, disputed by some. However, the good news is that media coverage and government acceptance are starting to turn the tide. Previously we’ve been met with positively twisted headlines – think ‘summer heatwave’ instead of ‘global warming’. But this year there has been a positive acceptance of the terms ‘climate change’ and ‘climate emergency’.

Studies have shown that in the past tabloids have significantly understated scientific research around climate change. With the dramatic rise in temperatures this year, the change in tone has been evident. The changing tide could be linked to more subject awareness and a change in generations.

With more people seeing the direct impacts of climate change, it’s likely that this trend will continue. As more evidence of climate change is seen across the world, awareness of the subject matter will increasingly grow. 

The future of climate change

Change now is needed for our future. With many governments and businesses finally embracing what climate change really means, and understanding how it will impact Earth, there is still hope.

The expectation is that our atmosphere will continue to warm, our oceans will continue to rise, and our weather will continue to become more unpredictable. Global goals and legislations, such as The Paris Agreement and the US’ new Inflation Reduction Act, are desperately needed to provide a more positive future.

With limits set for 2030, countries must do what they can to reduce global emissions now, to reach the targets. Fossil fuel reliance needs to be reduced, renewable energy must be invested in, transport must be innovative, agriculture needs to be reconsidered, our environment and biodiversity need to be secured.

Hopefully, we have learnt enough from the past to start engaging in change now, to protect the future for our planet.