Interview with Rosmel Rodríguez, EU Climate Pact Ambassador
This interview was conducted by Brice Garreau
What is the difference between global warming and climate change?
Global warming and climate change are two terms that have become increasingly common in conversations about the environment and the future of the planet. Although they are often used interchangeably, it is important to understand the difference between them.
Global warming refers to the increase in the Earth's average global temperature due to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Humans are the main culprits of this phenomenon, as our industrial and consumption activities have led to excessive emissions of gases such as carbon dioxide and methane.
As these gases accumulate in the atmosphere, they form a layer that traps heat from the sun and causes an increase in global temperature. This temperature increase can have significant effects on ecosystems worldwide, including glacier melting, sea level rise, and alteration of climate patterns.
On the other hand, climate change refers to broader changes in Earth's climate over time that go beyond just the increase in global temperature. Climate change includes changes in rainfall patterns, storm intensity, frequency of extreme weather events, and other climate-related factors. These changes can have serious consequences for the environment and human life.
It is important to note that climate change is not a new phenomenon. The Earth has experienced significant climate changes in the past due to natural causes such as volcanic eruptions and changes in the planet's orbit. However, what makes current climate change different is the speed and scale of the change, largely due to human activity.
Human-caused climate change is a very concerning phenomenon that requires immediate attention. Scientists have warned that if measures are not taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the effects of climate change could be devastating for the planet. Possible effects include sea level rise, intensification of extreme weather events, disappearance of animal and plant species, decreased food production, and decreased air quality.
Fortunately, there are many things that can be done to address climate change. One of the most important measures is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which can be achieved through the transition to renewable energy sources, improvement of energy efficiency, and adoption of sustainable agricultural practices. It is also important to take measures to adapt to climate change, such as developing resilient infrastructure and increasing response capacity to extreme weather events.
Is there a scientific consensus that people are causing climate change today? Or factories?
Yes, there is a broad scientific consensus that current climate change is primarily caused by human activity, particularly the emission of greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide) from the burning of fossil fuels (such as oil, gas, and coal) and deforestation. Factories and other industrial activities are a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, but so are electricity generation, transportation, agriculture, and livestock production, among other human activities.
The scientific consensus is based on a wide range of evidence, including direct measurements of the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, studies on how these gases interact with solar radiation, analysis of past and current climate records, and the development and use of complex computer models to simulate the climate and predict its future evolution.
It is important to note that scientific consensus does not mean there is no debate or uncertainty in climate science. There is always ongoing discussion and evaluation of evidence and scientific hypotheses. However, scientific consensus is an expression of the opinion of the scientific community, based on rigorous analysis of the scientific evidence available to date.
Why be concerned about a degree or two change in the average global temperature?
It is important to care about a 1 or 2 degree change in the global average temperature because even small changes in temperature can have large impacts on the climate, ecosystems, and human life on Earth.
A change of one or two degrees in the global average temperature may seem small, but it is important to remember that the Earth is a complex system with many interconnected factors that interact with each other. A small change in temperature can have chain effects on other aspects of the climate, such as wind patterns and ocean currents.
If the planet's average temperature increases by 1 or 2 degrees Celsius, the consequences could be disastrous. We could experience more frequent and prolonged droughts, which would affect agriculture and food security worldwide. We could also see an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods, which could affect millions of people.
In addition, the increase in sea water temperature could have serious consequences for marine ecosystems and fishing. Coral reefs, which are home to a wide variety of marine species, are particularly vulnerable to rising water temperatures. If coral reefs die, marine biodiversity would be severely affected, which would have long-term economic and social consequences.
Human health could also be affected by rising temperatures. Vector-borne diseases, such as dengue and malaria, could spread to areas that were previously not at risk. In addition, rising temperatures could increase mortality in elderly people and people with chronic diseases.
Therefore, it is crucial to take measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit the global temperature increase to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels to minimize the negative impacts of climate change.
How does climate change affect people’s health?
Climate change is an undeniable reality that is having a negative impact on the environment and people's lives. One of the most concerning effects is its impact on human health. Climate change is affecting the quality of air, water, food, and exposure to diseases, which can have serious consequences for people's health.
Air pollution is a problem that is getting worse due to climate change. Higher temperatures and changing weather patterns can increase levels of pollutants like ozone and fine particles in the air, which can affect the air quality we breathe. This can lead to respiratory problems, heart disease, and lung cancer, especially in people with pre-existing health problems or vulnerable groups like children and older people.
The increase in extreme temperatures is causing an increase in heatwaves, which can be deadly, especially for older people, people with chronic diseases, and children.
Food security is also threatened by climate change. Lack of rain and extreme temperatures can affect food production, which can lead to food shortages and increased prices. Additionally, climate change can also affect the quality of food, as extreme weather conditions can promote the proliferation of bacteria and other pathogens that can increase the spread of vector-borne diseases like dengue, malaria, and West Nile virus, as vectors such as mosquitoes spread to new regions due to rising temperatures.
Finally, climate change can also have an impact on mental health. Natural disasters like floods and droughts can cause trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder in people who experience them. Additionally, climate change can cause lifestyle changes, such as the need to reduce energy and water consumption, which can generate concern and stress.
Climate change can also cause the displacement of entire populations due to the intensification of natural disasters and the loss of natural resources, resulting in climate refugees, a current problem that international law must begin to address.
Climate change can have serious consequences for human health, and it is necessary to take measures to reduce greenhouse and adapt to already unavoidable impacts to minimise their impact on public health.
Who is most at risk from the impacts of climate change?
Climate change is a reality that affects all people on the planet, but some groups are more vulnerable or exposed to its effects than others. In this opinion article, we will analyze who are the most vulnerable or exposed people to the effects of climate change.
Firstly, people living in Global South countries are particularly vulnerable to climate change. These countries often have deficient infrastructure, weak health systems, and poorer populations. In addition, many of these countries are located in areas vulnerable to extreme weather phenomena such as droughts, floods, and tropical cyclones. The impacts of climate change in these countries can lead to crop losses, food shortages, and increased diseases.
Secondly, people living in coastal areas are also especially vulnerable to climate change. Coastal areas are prone to the effects of sea-level rise, which can cause flooding and loss of homes and livelihoods. In addition, coastal communities can also be affected by increasingly strong storms and hurricanes, which can cause massive damage to property and infrastructure. People living in arid and semi-arid areas are exposed to drought and desertification.
Thirdly, people living in rural areas who depend on agriculture and fishing are also vulnerable to climate change. Climate change can cause changes in rainfall patterns and temperature, which can affect food production and water quality. In addition, extreme weather phenomena can destroy crops and deplete fishing resources, leading to food insecurity and poverty.
Fourthly, it is important to note that people with pre-existing health problems are also especially vulnerable to climate change. High temperatures can exacerbate respiratory and cardiovascular problems, and exposure to air pollution can cause respiratory diseases and mental health problems. In addition, extreme weather events such as floods and wildfires can have serious effects on people's physical and mental health.
Finally, communities that are most vulnerable and in some cases racialized are typically low-income, have fewer resources to adapt to the impacts of climate change, and may be more exposed to food insecurity, lack of access to clean water, and lack of access to quality healthcare.
It is important to recognize that the people most exposed to the effects of climate change are often those who have contributed least to greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, it is necessary to take measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help the most vulnerable people adapt to the impacts of climate change.
How can the risks of climate change be reduced?
Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing humanity today. The scientific evidence is clear: increasing greenhouse gas emissions are leading to a rise in global temperature, which in turn is causing severe and widespread impacts on our planet, from droughts and floods to species extinction and sea level rise.
However, there is hope. There are many ways in which we can reduce the risks of climate change and protect our planet for future generations. Here are some ideas that could help:
-Reduce greenhouse gas emissions: The primary way to reduce the risks of climate change is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This can be achieved by transitioning to renewable energy sources, improving energy efficiency, reducing deforestation, and promoting sustainable agricultural and land-use practices.
-Adopt renewable energy: One of the most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to adopt renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, and others. This would not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also decrease air pollution, thereby improving the quality of life for people.
-Adapt to the impacts of climate change: Even if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, climate changes that have already occurred need to be addressed. Adaptation involves taking measures to reduce the vulnerability of people and systems to the impacts of climate change, such as building climate-resilient infrastructure and promoting sustainable agricultural and land-use practices.
-Promote education and public awareness: Education and public awareness are key to achieving action on climate change. Education can help people understand the impacts of climate change and how they can contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Public awareness can help pressure governments and companies to take more ambitious action to address climate change.
-Reduce carbon footprint: Both companies and individuals can reduce their carbon footprint by changing their daily production habits, consumption patterns, and more.
-Encourage sustainable agriculture: Agriculture is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, especially in the production of meat and dairy. Encouraging sustainable agriculture that reduces emissions and is biodiversity-friendly can have a significant impact on the fight against climate change.
-Protect ecosystems: Forests and oceans are natural carbon sinks and are essential for reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
-Promote or Adopt effective public policies: Governments can adopt public policies that incentivize the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon taxes and energy efficiency standards for buildings and vehicles. Public policies can also support adaptation to climate change and promote sustainable agricultural and land-use practices.
Reducing the risks of climate change requires collective action at the international, national, and local levels. It is necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to inevitable impacts, and promote education and public awareness about climate change.