The History of Climate Change
Humans have been trodding around this planet for about three hundred thousand years. We started innocent enough and intrigued by the simple things in life because that’s all there ever was. Then suddenly, a fire was created by a group of curious early humans. Who knows how it happened? It was most likely an accident because no one knew heat can kill bacteria during that time. That first fire was still innocent and sinless. With time, we grew smarter and our curiosity grew. Our climate has suffered the consequences of our progression, but will our progression continue to wreak havoc on Earth on will our knowledge allow us to shift the trend and preserve this great gift we have been given? The only way to find out is to start at the beginning, ancient Greece.
What is Climate Change?
The ancient Greeks created theories of climate change in their time. Yes, Aristotle and Plato knew it, can you believe it? If I were stuck during the time Platos was alive, I would definitely choose to be stuck with them. They figured humans can manipulate the weather by tearing down vegetation and burning forests. They were right, of course.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is released daily which ultimately contributes to climate change. CO2 rises by burning fossil fuels, producing livestock, and clearing trees. Those are the main ways humans contribute to climate change. That is why many people are switching to eating less meat or turning completely vegan. If livestock were to be banned, that would significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Carbon dioxide is not the only gas that contributes to climate change. Here are the all gasses that also contribute to climate change:
- Carbon dioxide
- Nitrous Oxide
- Fluorinated Gases
There is evidence and correlations between the impact of CO2 and climate change. So why is it so controversial? The below video about climate change’s controversial history will simplify the complex and polarizing topic.
Let’s Take a Look into History
Sustainability before the 19th Century
Before the industrial revolution, Earth was in pretty good shape. Most homes were made of straw, timber, and waterproof leaves in medieval times. They were so biodegradable to the point where archeologist now struggle with finding the remains of those homes. Wars and diseases did not help Earth so much, but besides that, our blue dot was still at its prime.
Sustainability in the 19th Century
Our species started to really advance the moment planet Earth took its first major bullet by humans. Earth has been beaten up a few times before, but only by natural disasters such as eruptions from volcanoes and meteors.
In the 19th Century, technology and life, in general, started to become more complex and ecologically intrusive. The industrial revolution began in the 19th Century, which exploited the use of a lot of fossil fuels and a lot of land clearing. Railroads were made that released many chemicals into the air. Scientists used their observational skills to discern what was going on. Svante Arrhenius studied carbon dioxide and how it increased exponentially, leading to an increase in surface temperatures of 5–6 degrees Celsius.
Curiosity and progression do not always lead to catastrophe. Another scientist of the 19th century named Guy Callender was curious about the effects of the industrial revolution. Callender put together something that can save the world: the theory that linked rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere to global temperature. Basically, the ability to foresee the effects of greenhouse gases.
Things started to get worse, of course. The population was rising which means that more coal was being burned. Very quickly the first car powered with gasoline was made in the 19th century accelerating the CO2 in the atmosphere. In the 19th century, people were reading the newspaper and desiring what was advertised. In turn, the “consumer society” was birthed during this century and contributed to a demand that exploited production at devastating costs to the planet.
Sustainability in the 20th Century
There is a world of difference between the beginning of the 20th century and the end of it. A major impact to climate climate change was coal since more cities were getting access to electricity. However, there was limited change with the use of electricity as it was mostly used for light bulbs in the early 1900s. No radio or TVs were plugged in because they did not exist yet. If someone wanted to listen to music in the early 1900s, they would have to go to live music events or hope they have a talented family. In the 1990s, people had access to the radio, TV, cassettes, CDS, and more. The world went from black and white to technicolor.
The 20th century went through many polticial transformations, meaning much more coal burned to produce energy during the two world wars. Those bombs did not just impact humanity, it impacted the Earth as well. The surface temperature has increased over 33.08 degrees Fahrenheit over the 20th century . That is quite a lot. People were not so aware of climate change even though it began to be addressed in the 1980s. In the 20th Century, the sentiment was for companies and people to do what was best for them. In reality, it was not best for their health or the planet. But this is what happens when we do not have access to information.
Sustainability in the 21st Century
We are 21 years into the 21st Century, things are similar to the 90s except more fast, modern, and advanced. We use smartphones now, and even most of our grandmas have them now as well. To this day, I laugh a little when my grandma sends me messages with emojis. In the early 2000s, our grandparents seemed older, but now they’re getting with the program, literally.
As a result of the advancement of technology, information was released faster. The beginning of the 21st century was deeply integrated as a consumer society world. Magazines advertising the non-eco-friendly beauty products/ideals, house products, and more were published monthly. Everyone was just going on with their day without hearing the word sustainable or biodegradable.
Now we see beauty products on Instagram and all social media platforms instantly. We are constantly hearing a new trend or new product to the point where we only feel up-to-date for only a few days. When more products (from beauty to technology) is created in an non-sustianble manner, more coal is burned contributing to more damage to the Earth.
Some people just give up on all the modern trends and stick to vintage fashion. You can say your pants were worn in Woodstock. That will give more cool points than saying the usual, “I got these from Forever 21.” There are so many alternatives that leave less of a carbon footprint on this planet. The plus side of instant information and smartphones is that positive and useful information is accessible to more people. The 21st century has been by far the only century where we have really tried to make an effort to save the world as a large group.
We Can Save the World Together
With curiosity, we can save the world. Many people are going to the beach to pick up the trash and clean the mess of others just to help the climate. In the end, a better climate will help us and our future children. Let’s get curious about how to be more sustainable by learning and how to help everyone choose that path. With the resources and access to information we have today, we can do it.
Related articles: https://midtownmiamimagazine.com/a-history-of-sustainability/