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Managing Climate Change

Managing Climate Change

Forest fires. Cities underwater. Extreme heat. The images of climate change’s potentially devastating effects are frightening. Not all hope is lost, however. Humans have options for managing climate change and its effects in the future, as well as preventing the worst. So, what kind of strategies are there for managing climate change? What is the difference between adaptation and mitigation? Read on to find out more!

Strategies for managing climate change

Climate change can happen through natural causes, but the current change is caused by human activities that release greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, making the earth warmer. This is called global warming, and climate change is all the after-effects on the earth as a result of global warming.

Climate Change: transformations in the earth’s weather and temperatures over a long period of time.

Climate change is a global issue, and no one person, group, or country can claim to be free of any responsibility to address it. Strategies for managing climate change can range from massive multinational agreements to something as simple as choosing to ride a bike instead of driving.

Now, let's break down the strategies for managing climate change into mitigation techniques and adaptation techniques.

Mitigation techniques

When we talk about mitigation techniques as one of the strategies for managing climate change, we mean ways in which the worst effects of climate change can be prevented. Let’s go over various mitigation techniques.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Using petrol to power a car and burning coal to generate electricity all produce greenhouse gasses. As stated earlier, these greenhouse gasses are the primary driver of global warming and climate change, so bringing them down is absolutely key to mitigating climate change. The largest contributors to climate change are transportation, energy generation, and agricultural practices. A switch from burning fossil fuels to renewable energy sources like wind and solar can greatly reduce the emissions from generating electricity. Switching from burning petrol and diesel in automobiles to using electricity is another way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and is even better if the electricity comes from a renewable source! The emissions in the agricultural industry come from the fuel needed to transport food, fertilizer usage, and the animals themselves.

Managing climate change greenhouse effect diagram StudySmarterFig. 1 - Schematic of the greenhouse gas effect

Forestation

Trees and plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen, meaning the more there are, the better our planet can cope with the carbon emissions humans are putting out. The amount of forested land has decreased over the decades due to logging and clearing land for farms. By planting more trees, climate change can be mitigated with more carbon dioxide being taken out of the atmosphere.

Carbon capture

Some experimental technologies exist currently that pull carbon dioxide directly out of the atmosphere, resulting in fewer greenhouse gases. The use of these technologies is controversial, due to how expensive they are, their energy needs, and how long it will take until they can actually make an impact. Right now, the carbon capture technology is not advanced enough to make a big difference in reducing the amount of carbon in our atmosphere.

Adaptation techniques

In contrast to mitigation techniques, which try to prevent the effects of climate change, adaptation techniques are ways in which we can change things to make climate change less damaging. In a sense, adaptation techniques accept that some consequences of climate change are going to happen, so we need to make sure the impact isn’t as severe. Below are some different adaptation techniques.

Sea level rise protection

The melting of polar ice caps is set to increase the sea level across the globe. Cities on coastlines must adapt to the rising levels or end up underwater. The construction of flood walls, levees, and seawalls is a major strategy humans have to stem the rising waters. Concrete or earthen mounds in key areas can help keep flooding at bay and have been used for centuries1 in low-lying places like New Orleans and Amsterdam. In some of the most at-risk places, humans may be forced to move elsewhere, and adequately preparing for and helping people move is one of the key adaptation techniques.

Managing climate change South Palling seawall at the beach StudySmarterFig. 2 - Seawalls like this one in North Norfolk may be necessary to prevent coastal flooding

Adapting to increased heat

Extreme heat itself is a major threat to human health–heat stroke and exhaustion are dangerous. With temperatures predicted to keep rising, people need to adapt in order to keep cool. Places, where air conditioning is uncommon, may find themselves needing them to live comfortably in the future. Passive cooling is another adaptation technique, where buildings and houses are designed to lower indoor temperatures without using energy, usually by reducing the amount of sunlight coming in and using certain building materials. The rooves of buildings are key to lowering the heat inside and out, with reflective colours and planted roofs helping to lower the sun’s warming effect.

Cities tend to be hotter than their rural counterparts due to a phenomenon called the urban heat island effect. Concrete and tarmac surfaces, combined with heat output from air conditioning make cities hotter. The colour of rooves makes a big impact on the amount of heat in cities, and tree cover as well. Besides helping to mitigate climate change and making cities more beautiful, trees provide shade and significantly cool the streets and surrounding areas.

Poorer parts of cities tend to have less tree cover, another way how the effects of climate change are unequal and tend to affect the poorest places the most.

Agriculture

Changes to the climate across the globe mean that certain crops can no longer be harvested. Parts of southern Italy now, for instance, can consistently grow mangoes, a fruit requiring lots of heat and sunlight. Switching to different crops is a necessary adaptation to climate change. Increased heat also leads to our freshwater sources drying up and more droughts, so crops that can handle less water will need to be planted too.

Managing the health effects of climate change

The health effects of climate change are pretty clear. Human health is at risk from climate change across the globe. Reduced air quality from forest fires, heat dangers, dehydration, and increased risk of disease are all possible as a direct result of climate change. Healthcare systems will be placed under increased strain, and a steady supply of healthcare professionals and funding needs to be maintained to address it. As mentioned earlier, places will need more air conditioning–not just for comfort, but for legitimate health reasons too.

Managing climate change cracked and dry ground from drought in Sudan StudySmarterFig. 3 - Increased droughts from climate change harm human health and agriculture

Managing water supplies

Water is a building block of life, humans cannot live without it. Due to climate change, some places will see their fresh water supplies dwindle, while others will have more than enough. This imbalance poses a great health risk, but is not without solutions. Water sharing between and within countries can help relieve areas with little access to water. Perhaps one day instead of oil, water will be shipped through pipelines and across oceans to provide for people in need.

Managing forests for climate change mitigation

How we manage our forests plays a key role in mitigating climate change. Forests help suck in the carbon in our atmosphere, keeping global temperatures from rising, and without them, our planet stands to get much, much worse. Our need for paper and wood is not going to go away overnight, so forests must be managed sustainably. Massive programs to reforest (plant trees in areas where forests once existed) and afforest (plant trees in areas where forests never existed) can help increase the planet’s natural ability to offset carbon emissions. At the very least, we must ensure that our massive forests like the Amazon are not decimated to ensure a healthy future for all living things.

Managing Climate Change - Key takeaways

  • Climate change is a major threat to the planet and humankind needing to be addressed.
  • Humans can adopt mitigation techniques which seek to prevent climate change from accelerating and wreaking havoc.
  • Adaptation techniques accept that some impacts from climate change are going to happen and aim to change our environment and lifestyles to better live under those conditions.

References

  1. Fig. 1: Greenhouse gas effect (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Climate_Change_Schematic.svg) by Efbrazil (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Efbrazil) is licensed by CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en)
  2. Fig. 2: Sea Palling sea wall (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sea_Palling_sea_wall_-_geograph.org.uk_-_3102281.jpg) by Roger Jones (https://www.geograph.org.uk/profile/62944) is licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en)
  3. Fig. 3: Drought in Khartum (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Drought_in_Khartum.jpg) by Виктор Пинчук (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:%D0%92%D0%B8%D0%BA%D1%82%D0%BE%D1%80_%D0%9F%D0%B8%D0%BD%D1%87%D1%83%D0%BA) is licensed by CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en)

Frequently Asked Questions about Managing Climate Change

Climate change poses significant threats to the future of our planet and mankind. The risks involved are something that needs a concerted effort to evaluate and react to. In this sense, climate change can be considered a risk management problem.


The primary tool of reducing the impacts of climate change is to reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses being emitted by human activities into the atmosphere. Additionally, reforestation and afforestation can increase the earth’s capability to absorb those greenhouse gasses also reducing the impacts of climate change. Humans can also adapt to climate change, changing our behaviours and built environment to make the earth more liveable in a climate change era.


While there are many ways climate change can be managed, we can split them broadly into two categories: mitigation and adaptation.


Mitigation is the strategy of preventing climate change’s worst effects from happening in the first place. Adaptation strategies are changing human lifestyles and environment in order to cope with the impacts of climate change.


Examples of mitigation strategies include planting trees and cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions. An example of an adaptation strategy is building seawalls to prevent cities flooding from sea level rise.

Final Managing Climate Change Quiz

Question

True or false: Climate change is something we can do nothing about.

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Answer

False, there are many strategies humans can undertake to help address climate change, by mitigating and adapting to it.

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Question

True or false: Climate change is primarily caused by humans.

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Answer

True, our greenhouse gas emissions from things like cars and generating electricity are changing the earth's climate.

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Question

Is climate change a global issue?

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Answer

Yes, climate change impacts every corner of the globe.

Show question

Question

What are climate change mitigation techniques?

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Answer

Ways in which we can prevent the worst impacts of climate change from happening in the first place.

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Question

Which of the following is a mitigation technique?

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Answer

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Show question

Question

Is switching to renewable energy a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

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Answer

Yes

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Question

How does planting trees help mitigate the effects of climate change?

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Answer

Trees absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, reducing the risk of more global warming.

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Question

Is carbon capture a realistic method of mitigating climate change right now? Why or why not?

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Answer

No, because the technology is not developed enough, is costly, and energy intensive.

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Question

What are climate change adaptation techniques?

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Answer

Methods of adjusting our lifestyles and environment to cope with climate change's effects.

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Question

What is a way we can adapt to sea level rise?

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Answer

The construction of barriers like seawalls and flood walls in cities can keep rising waters at bay.

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Question

What is passive cooling?

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Answer

Techniques that don't use energy to reduce the amount of heat inside homes and buildings.

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Question

What is the effect in which cities are hotter than rural areas called?

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Answer

Urban heat island effect

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Question

True or false: Trees in cities do little other than look nice.

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Answer

False, trees in urban areas greatly help reduce temperatures experienced by residents.

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Question

Why do we need to adapt our agricultural practices for climate change?

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Answer

Increased heat and droughts means some areas will need to select crops that are able to handle higher temperatures and less water.

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Question

In what ways does climate change impact human health?

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Answer

Hot temperatures, poor air quality, and lack of water supplies all harm human health.

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