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Due
to industrialised progression over the past century, the average global land
temperature has reportedly increased by some staggering 1.65 degrees Celsius
from 1916 to 2016, according to NASA. Whilst some may assume that this
temperature increase is only minute, such an increase has been calculated to
have potentially catastrophic effects in the near future, as specified by statements
from the National Resources Defence Council (NRDC). Evidence of these reports
include the fact that 2017 was the third hottest year on record, accompanied
with natural disasters such as hurricanes and major earthquakes in North
America, the consequences of this are widespread and hard-hitting. This will be
considered in the following essay, as well as the issue: is climate change irreversible?
And if so, how do we go about doing this? This question is complex since it is
uncertain whether climate change is a direct result of human development, or if
it just a natural cause. This links to the main issue through how people who
believe in natural causes of climate change, will have different perspectives
on how to reverse the effects of climate change, or if it is even reversible.The
invitation of supposedly over 11 parts per million (PPM), of carbon dioxide,
and even larger amounts of other harmful natural gasses since the industrial
revolution, is undeniable proof of human interaction with the climate changing,
however, the inevitability of climate change doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t
have to make a decision, if we act quickly there is a small window of
opportunity in which we can work to reduce climate change, “or we could keep
accelerating towards catastrophe,” as stated by Richard Somerville for
bulletins science and security board. This is suggesting that although climate
change has increased and is scientifically proved to be non-stopping – through
examples such as ice caps melting, it is not irreversible. Whilst oxymoronic,
actions against climate change have been proven to be able to reverse, or at
least reduce the effect it has, arguing that in fact it could be possible to
reverse climate change, that of which is caused by human activity. One example
is that from the conservation of American Bison, from herds numbering tens of
millions, American Bison were hunted down to as few as 750 animals in the 1890s,
due to less biodiversity in the region, the surrounding ecosystem was damaged
by the unnatural hunting of American Bison, this caused changed to the climate
in a way that was different than before. Between 1868 and 1881, 31 million were
slaughtered by hunters and fur traders. However, like the North American grey
wolf, the bison has made a remarkable comeback. Whilst the change in pattern of
herds doesn’t seem significant in terms of effects on the climate, it is the
human activity of keeping and breeding these animals that causes said
atmospheric changes. Through conservation initiatives, re-introduction, population
management, the population has rebounded to around huge 350,000 individuals,
and with the return of the Bison, the surrounding climate will also change due
to the new added biodiversity “fixing” the ecosystems; proving that change is
based on humans, and that the damage is therefore reversible. The fluctuation
of the herd numbers can be representative of human interaction with climate
change, for example, the damage done to the environment is large, and in the
future, can be too bad to reverse, but through conservation and technological
ideas the environment can be allowed to heal. However, there are also
considerable weaknesses to this argument. Whilst increased populations are
vital for maintained biodiversity patterns, the rapid increase in herds also
leads to greater greenhouse emissions, such as methane, which is produced in
the form of gas by said livestock, this can also link to the downsides of
conservation attempts, such as the emissions released in the production of
renewable energy sources, as well as the incredibly long payback time and the
inefficiency of renewable energy, furthermore, there is a huge difference
between animal life and climate change, by how climate change occurs over
centuries, therefore it is not known if conservation can reserve the effects of
climate change, just the same as conservation reverses the effects of hunting.
As well as this, the fact that, in accordance to the EEA (European Environment Agency),
renewable energy sources have slowed down carbon dioxide – and any other
harmful natural gasses – emissions by up to 7%. Results from this show that the
rate of melting of the polar ice caps significantly slows down, allowing polar
bear populations to increase (with help from conservation) in the thousands. Whilst
human activity undoubtedly leads to the main reasons for climate change, it is
also human activity that is helping to reduce it. Whilst the extent to which
climate change is reversible can be argued, it can be at least limited, if not
completely stopped. However, the fact that a growing population of humans
creates a growing demand, therefore emissions will inevitably rise making it
harder for environmental organisations to aid in conservation; theoretically,
increasing human population creates a higher demand for more industrialised
resources and therefore creates more emissions, meaning more climate change. In
addition, this source is limited in the fact the it does not describe the exact
damages that an extra 7% of emissions could do to harm the environment. The
increase in human population will be proportional to the rise in methods
utilised to cope with these changes, thus having little to no effect. It is
important to consider that It can be argued that climate change is reversible
due to the many schemes set up in recent years to combat greenhouse gases and
carbon dioxide emissions. For instance, the 2015 United Nations Climate Change
Conference, COP 21 which was held in Paris, negotiated the global agreement on the
reduction of climate change, representing a cohort of 196 participants. The
overall aim of the conference was to reach a global agreement on working
towards the key result of limiting global warming to “well below 2 degrees,
compared to previous industrial levels”. Conclusively, the COP 21 agreement is
an example of how climate change could be in fact be reversible, similar
agreements have also been established, such as the Kyoto Protocol; an
internationally treaty extending the 1992 United Nations Convention on Climate
Change. The Kyoto Protocol states that climate change is extremely likely to be
due to human causes, and therefore due to this it can simultaneously be
reversed by human causes. Opposing this view, modern techniques of conservation
and renewable energy being used to aid the reversal of climate change, are
proven to be too expensive, inefficient and juvenile in effect. Bill Gates
believes that renewable energy as of now is needing to improve to combat
climate change. In addition to this, carbon emissions have been proven to be in
proportion to capitalism, therefor, a decrease in productivity creates a longer
period before more effective forms of climate change reversal to be fabricated.
Furthermore, greenhouse gases cause effects over decades, the need to act on
emissions rapidly is high, the Kyoto protocol fail to note this.On
the other hand, while the argument for irreversible climate change still allows
the idea of human induced climate change being reversible, the awareness of
natural climate change being an unstoppable influence on climate change coerces
beliefs against reversibility. Evidence of this is stated in “well respected”
Australian scientist Jennifer Marohasy research and
journal ‘GeoResJ’, where she and her team – including John Abbot, who has been
researching on natural data such as rain patterns for 7 years – discover that
even without the industrial revolution global temperatures would be the same
today, furthermore she also discovered through extensive research on tree rings
and coral cores that global temperatures have been higher before, such as in
medieval times between the period 986
to 1234. With this knowledge,
it is possible to eliminate the idea of man-made C02 emissions effecting the
climate, causing it to change. This is because, as Marohasy has proven, the
globe fluctuates in its warming over many years, thus can ruling out the idea
of man-made CO2 emissions effecting the climate over a long period of time,
hence, if climate change is natural then there is no way to reverse it. In
addition, the fact of Marohasy being a well-respected scientist shows how the
concept of bias or lying can be fairly farfetched. As well as this, the
research conducted on tree rings and coral cores proves climate change to be
irreversible, due to the link between history and the earth warming, for
example, if the climate was hotter in medieval times when there was virtually
no human C02 emission, then the climate warming must have been natural, including
its cooling, therefore, modern day climate change can just be represented by
the slow pattern of change visible throughout history, also the use of natural
resources in the study proves the creditability of the research as it displays
how the research was based off of an extremely reliable source, leading on from
this the precise data presented boosts the accountability of the research as
the results are reproducibly and able to be tested or conferred against. However,
the methods of this study, published in the journal “GeoResJ,”
do not provide evidence for its claim that humans are not the primary cause of
global warming, while also denying to argue against CO2 causing a heating
effect and that with increased emissions there will be a rise in temperatures
to some degree, additionally, the
study relied on several local records of past climate rather than a global
compilation, and failed to account for the important difference between local
and global temperature change and variability. On the other hand, climate
change is irreversible due to the fact that, there is no efficient method for
contributing to reversing the effects of it, for example, as stated in the
‘spectator’, while renewable wind energy has installed 54 gigawatts of energy
into the world economy, to the nearest 1, this is 0% of the globes energy
consumption, showing zero chance of replacing the 86% of global consumption of
energy given by unrenewable sources, therefore proving that no modern energy equivalents
are useful enough to be able to reverse climate change. However, the weaknesses
to this argument is the denial of the amount of renewable energy currently in
use, because if there was more there would be a higher contribution to the
world energy use, in addition the source only uses wind energy and fails to
note the other sources of renewable energy which make up 1.4% of the worlds
energy consumption.To compare, the
argument proving climate change to be reversible is strong in the sense of evidence
for it, for example, data collected in the Kyoto protocol and by the EEA show
how officials have a lot of knowledge on the topic of climate change, such as
how global emissions have dropped by 7%, and how they are able to start taking
steps towards reversing it. In addition to this, the ability to reverse climate
change is a plausible theory, due to the fact that it is known that CO2
emissions and greenhouse gases trap heat, therefore by reducing these gases
then cooling would begin. However, the lack of explanation from alternatives
such as the sun or geothermic activity weakens the theory, as well as the lack
of physical evidence. This is a strength in perspective two though however, for
example the study on tree rings and coral cores by scientist Jennifer Marohasy
is direct evidence of the theory of climate change being entirely natural, and
therefore irreversible. Another strength of the second perspective is the
argument against modern uses of conservation, for example realising the fact
that renewable energy is near to useless shows how climate change cannot be
reversed as modern techniques aren’t good enough. Contrary to this though, the
weakness of perspective two is the ignorance towards evidence of climate change
reversing in places, for example, when china stopped the use of cars for two
weeks in the city of Beijing and the sky turned blue.

To conclude, though
the question, ‘is climate change irreversible’ is simple to read, it is very
complex to argue for or against, however it is clear that climate change is
happening and needs to be dealt with. At this moment in time, it may be argued
that humans have a big responsibility of the climate for future generations,
this is because it’s hard to believe that climate change and human development
are coincidental, however, the idea of natural climate change, whilst being the
least popular has some hard evidence for, and if true could cause the most
damage to the world. Despite the difference if natural or not, climate change
is a large problem and therefore needs attention.

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