The term weather describes the state of the air at a particular place and time – whether it is warm or cold, wet or dry, and how cloudy or windy it is, for example. It affects many of the things that we do, from the clothes we wear and the food we eat, to where we live and how we travel. As a result, the weather is of great interest to people everywhere, from meteorologists, the scientists who study it in great depth, to you and I in our everyday lives. In fact, one of the main topics of conversation is often what the weather will do next the . Weather is very changeable and unpredictable.
What is Climate? The normal pattern of weather experienced in a particular area over a long period of time is known as the climate. The climate tells us how hot, cold or wet it is likely to be in different parts of the world at different times of year. For example, tropical countries have hot climates and the Antarctic has a cold climate. The climate may include four seasons a year – spring, summer, autumn and winter – or a wet and a dry season. Our climate depends on our position on the earth and our distance from the sun. We will learn more about this in the Days and Seasons section.
What is weather forecasting? Weather experts use computer technology and data from stations and satellites all over the world to predict the weather. By carefully monitoring weather conditions it is possible to predict when change is due – what we know as weather forecasting. What is Climate Change? Climate change refers to any significant change in the measures of climate lasting for an extended period of time. In other words, climate change includes major changes in temperature, precipitation, or wind patterns, among other effects, that occur over several decades or longer.
What is Global Warming? Global warming refers to the recent and ongoing rise in global average temperature near Earth’s surface. It is caused mostly by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Global warming is causing climate patterns to change. However, global warming itself represents only one aspect of climate change. Climate change is happening Our Earth is warming. Earth’s average temperature has risen by 1. 4°C over the past century, and is projected to rise another 2 to 11. 5°C over the next hundred years.
Small changes in the average temperature of the planet can translate to large and potentially dangerous shifts in climate and weather. Rising global temperatures have been accompanied by changes in weather and climate. Many places have seen changes in rainfall, resulting in more floods, droughts, or intense rain, as well as more frequent and severe heat waves. The planet’s oceans and glaciers have also experienced some big changes – oceans are warming and becoming more acidic, ice caps are melting, and sea levels are rising.
As these and other changes become more pronounced in the coming decades, they will likely present challenges to our society and our environment. Who is Responsible? Over the past century, human activities have released large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The majority of greenhouse gases come from burning fossil fuels to produce energy (Charcoal), although deforestation, industrial processes, and some agricultural practices also emit gases into the atmosphere.
Greenhouse gases act like a blanket around Earth, trapping energy in the atmosphere and causing it to warm. This phenomenon is called the greenhouse effect and is natural and necessary to support life on Earth. However, the build-up of greenhouse gases can change Earth’s climate and result in dangerous effects to human health and welfare and to ecosystems. There other elements of people’s homes that contribute to climate change indirectly. Everything, from furniture to computers, from clothes to carpets, all use energy when it is produced and transported – and this causes carbon emissions to be released.
The choices we make today will affect the amount of greenhouse gases we put in the atmosphere in the near future and for years to come. Women as the face of Climate change Women make up a shocking 70 percent of people living in poverty around the world. The gender imbalance of climate change is about more than just numbers, though. During natural disasters and extreme storms — of which many are increasingly linked to our carbon-loaded atmosphere — women often lack the physical strength needed to pull themselves to high ground or to run for safe cover.
If this physical barrier isn’t enough, women are usually responsible for children and relatives and in extreme conditions; they have the added burden of moving everyone out of harm’s way. Furthermore, they face social, economic and political barriers that limit their coping capacity. Women and men in rural areas in developing countries are especially vulnerable when they are highly dependent on local natural resources for their livelihood. Those charged with the responsibility to secure water, food and fuel for cooking and heating face the greatest challenges.
Secondly, when coupled with unequal access to resources and to decision-making processes, limited mobility places women in rural areas in a position where they are disproportionately affected by climate change. It is thus important to identify gender-sensitive strategies to respond to the environmental and humanitarian crises caused by climate change It’s this universal role as caregiver — one that we would rarely change if given the chance — that increases women’s vulnerability to our changing climate. With motherhood comes the responsibility of providing food, water, shelter, protection and transportation for children.
In a warmer world, these are increasingly challenging tasks. It is important to remember, however, that women are not only vulnerable to climate change but they are also effective actors or agents of change in relation to both mitigation and adaptation. Women often have a strong body of knowledge and expertise that can be used in climate change mitigation, disaster reduction and adaptation strategies. Furthermore, women’s responsibilities in households and communities, as stewards of natural and household resources, positions them well to contribute to livelihood strategies adapted to changing environmental realities.
Effects of climate change on women Climate change has serious ramifications in four dimensions of food security: food availability, food accessibility, food utilization and food systems stability. Women farmers currently account for 45-80 per cent of all food production in developing countries depending on the region. About two-thirds of the female labour force in developing countries, and more than 90 percent in many African countries, are engaged in agricultural work.
In the context of climate change, traditional food sources become more unpredictable and scarce. Women face loss of income as well as harvests—often their sole sources of food and income. Related increases in food prices make food more inaccessible to poor people, in particular to women and girls whose health has been found to decline more than male health in times of food shortages Furthermore; women are often excluded from decision-making on access to and the use of land and resources critical to their livelihoods.
For these reasons, it is important that the rights of rural women are ensured in regards to food security, non-discriminatory access to resources, and equitable participation in decision-making processes. In the rural areas, women and men are highly dependent on biomass, such as wood, agricultural crops, wastes and forest resources for their energy and livelihoods. However, in the face of climate change, the ability of women and men to obtain these indispensable resources is reduced.
It is important to note that the declining biodiversity does not solely impact the material welfare and livelihoods of people; it also cripples access to security, resiliency, social relations, health, and freedom of choices and actions. To give a few examples, declining fish populations have major implications for artisanal fishers and communities that depend on fish. Moreover, in many parts of the world, deforestation has meant that wood – the most widely used solid fuel – is located further away from the places where people live.
In poor communities in most developing countries, women and girls are responsible for collecting traditional fuels, a physically draining task that can take from 2 to 20 or more hours per week. As a result, women have less time to fulfil their domestic responsibilities, earn money, engage in politics or other public activities, learn to read or acquire other skills, or simply rest. Girls are sometimes kept home from school to help gather fuel, perpetuating the cycle of disempowerment.
Moreover, when environmental degradation forces them to search farther afield for resources, women and girls become more vulnerable to injuries from carrying heavy loads long distances, and also face increased risk of sexual harassment and assault. Climate change has significant impacts on fresh water sources, affecting the availability of water used for domestic and productive tasks. The consequences of the increased frequency in floods and droughts are far reaching, particularly for vulnerable groups, including women who are responsible for water management at the household level.
All over the developing world, women and girls bear the burden of fetching water for their families and spend significant amounts of time daily hauling water from distant sources. The water from distant sources is rarely enough to meet the needs of the household and is often contaminated, such that women and girls also pay the heaviest price for poor sanitation In terms of health, some potential climate change scenarios include: increased morbidity and mortality due to heat waves, floods, storms, fires and droughts.
What’s more, the risk of contracting serious illnesses is aggravated by environmental hazards caused by climate change. In addition to the reference provided above of climate impacting women’s health through water scarcity and water contamination, an abundance of evidence links the evolution and distribution of infectious diseases to climate and weather.
Four areas have been identified as critical building blocks in response to climate change: mitigation, adaptation, technology transfer and financing Mitigation involves a process of curbing greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, for example emissions from fossil fuels as well as deforestation, with a view to stabilizing greenhouse gas concentration at a afe level Adaptation is adjustment or preparation of natural or human systems to a new or changing environment which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities, it involves a range of activities to reduce vulnerability and build resilience in key sectors, such as water, agriculture and human settlements. New and improved technologies and financing initiatives at all levels also need to receive attention as part of collective efforts to address climate change There is the need to recognise the importance of placing women at the heart of sustainable development.
It would be a mistake to solve the climate change impacts without integrating women in the process, or improving their status and economic empowerment since women’s management of local natural resources is crucial. Thus: * Improving women’s economic status is a key element in reducing the impact of climate change on women—this is an imperative given the fact that women have direct connection to locally based natural resources. One of the key components of global action on climate change should be measures to adapt to changes that are already unavoidable.
Women must find another means of making a living. * The education of women on the impacts of climate change on their socio-economic activities as well as the provision of extension services to women farmers on appropriate technological innovations, improved storage facilities and resource management services are recommended. Governments are urged to give women an equal say in how funds given to poor countries to help them adapt to climate change, are managed and spent.
This can be by improving education and healthcare choices for women. Improved access to clean fuels would have profound effects not just on the prosperity and health of individual families, but more broadly on the developing countries they live in. Keeping a lid on population growth, in particular, would also allow developing nations – which make up 80 per cent of the world’s overall population – but which consume only 20 per cent of the world’s energy resources and contribute 30 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gases to have a say in global debates on dealing with the impact of climate change. Reinvesting in long-term, renewable, clean energy (wind, geothermal, sun, cellulosic ethanol. thus protecting threatened forests.
These common sense solutions won’t only reduce global warming; many will save us money and create new business opportunities. * Financing mechanisms must be flexible enough to reflect women’s priorities and needs. The active participation of women in the development of funding criteria and allocation of resources for climate change initiatives is critical, particularly at local levels.
Gender analysis of all budget lines and financial instruments for climate change is needed to ensure gender-sensitive investments in programmes for adaptation, mitigation, technology transfer and capacity building. In summary Women can be more affected by climate change, but they can also be agents of change in their communities and in their families. Women can push to be more organised in their communities around common issues. Therefore, women’s participation can ensure that problems are solved more creatively. A step ahead for women can be equivalent to a leap for mankind.
Courtney from Study Moose
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