What is Anthropogenic Climate Change?

Let me introduce some basic concepts about climate change.

The difference between weather and climate is a measure of time.

  • Weather refers to conditions of the atmosphere over a short period of time.
  • Climate refers to conditions of the atmosphere over long periods of time, usually 30 years.

Climate change refers to a statistically significant variation in either the mean state of the climate or in the variability of its properties, and that variation persists for an extended period, typically 30 years or longer (IPCC).

Anthropogenic climate change refers to the climate change event that is caused by human (anthro) activities that altered the atmosphere.

In 2014, IPCC shifted its focus from climate change mitigation to climate change adaptation. It cautioned governments to begin preparing for the risks of climate change.

  • Climate change mitigation refers to human interventions intended to limit the magnitude and/or rate of long-term climate change by reducing greenhouse gases and improving carbon sinks.  In Manitoba, mitigation efforts include reforestation, wetland protection, and promoting geothermal.
  • Climate change adaptation is adjusting to climate changes and its effects in order to reduce harm to life, health, livelihood and assets.  In Manitoba, adaptation efforts include  flood infrastructure and municipal emergency preparedness.

Climate change adaptation relies on two human attributes:

  • Adaptive capacity is the ability to problem-solve during a crisis, recover from disaster, cope with its consequences, and change as a result of disaster.
  • Resilience in communities is the ability of human systems to absorb shock and recover from the effects of hazards in a timely and efficient manner, preserve and/or restore essential basic functions, and retain cultural identity.

Indigenous cultures have the longest history of all cultures, and therefore have much to teach about adaptive capacity and resilience.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provides the world with an objective, scientific view of climate change and its political and economic impacts; it is a scientific and intergovernmental body under the auspices of the United Nations.  97-99% of climate scientists concur with IPCC’s findings that climate change is a present reality. Read more: http://www.ipcc.ch/

 IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) was completed in 2014.  Key findings include:

  • “Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years.”
  • Human influence on the climate system is clear. It is extremely likely (95-100% probability) that human influence was the dominant cause of global warming from 1951 to 2010.
  • Without new policies to mitigate climate change, projections suggest an increase in global mean temperature in 2100 of 3.7 to 4.8 °C.

Read more:  NASA    https://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/