1. Ferrovial
  2. STEM

What is climate change?

Climate change is the alteration of the planet’s global climate in relation to its historical patterns. This anomaly may have natural causes, though it has accelerated on Earth as a result of human development, especially since the eighteenth century with the advent of the Industrial Revolution and the increased concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Until a few years ago, this phenomenon was mistakenly called global warming, but climate change actually has much more complex consequences than only higher temperatures. Rather, it entails the exacerbation of climatic manifestations, leading to an increase in droughts, floods, storms, cold and heat waves, sea level rise, habitat disappearance, and more.

What causes climate change?

On Earth, climate change is mainly caused by an increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases. These gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O), can trap the heat that comes from the Sun and bounces off the Earth’s surface, along with that produced on the planet itself, and hold it against the Earth instead of allowing it to be released into space.

The greenhouse effect is a natural process that has occurred in the planet’s atmosphere with other gases, such as water vapor; however, the abnormal increase of elements with this quality leads to an increase in the planet’s global temperature. Human activity is the main cause of the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, especially the burning of fossil fuels like oil, gas, and coal for energy and transportation. There are other anthropogenic causes of greenhouse gas emissions, such as deforestation, agriculture, cement production, and waste disposal.

What effects can climate change have?

Earth is the only planet in the solar system that offers the conditions for sustained life. The stability of its climatic patterns has allowed the development of very complex ecosystems over millions of years. Some scientists believe that climate change due to anthropogenic causes would not necessarily imply the disappearance of the human species or life on Earth, but it can have very serious, long-lasting effects on the environment and civilization.

The compendium of consequences is hard to narrow down, but just some of the possible effects include:

  • Propagation of diseases.
  • Difficult habitability of some areas of the planet due to rising temperatures.
  • Increase in the mitigation costs for climatic conditions.
  • Material damage and loss of human life due to more frequent and extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods, storms, and hurricanes.
  • Reduction of agricultural productivity.
  • Decrease in fishing and tourism.
  • Human displacement due to the change of ecosystems.
  • Reduction of biodiversity.
  • Shortage of water.
  • Significant changes to the Earth’s surface and different regions due to the poles melting and rising sea levels.

How can climate change be reversed?

An example of humankind’s ability to reverse climatic ravages is the recovery of the ozone layer, which isn’t easy. Mitigating the effects of climate change requires commitment, cooperation, and efforts made at the global level.

One of the most urgent measures is reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This requires a change in consumption patterns and the transition to an economy based on sources of clean energy and renewable technologies, as well as implementing policies for waste management and sustainable agriculture.

Another imperative commitment is the conservation and recovery of forests and other carbon sinks. Forests not only absorb CO2 from the air and store it long-term: they play a fundamental role in water cycles, meaning they help ensure the availability of this important resource and greater stability in weather patterns.

In the construction sector, it is necessary to implement solutions to adapt to the effects of climate change, including the construction of infrastructure that is resistant to the new climatic realities, more effective management of water resources, protecting biodiversity, planning land use, and adopting more efficient technologies and more sustainable materials. At Ferrovial, the 2030 Sustainability Strategy is our company’s central axis.

Individuals can take steps to reduce their carbon footprint by using sustainable modes of transportation, reducing their consumption of meat and dairy products, reducing waste, and engaging in responsible consumption.

Google Play App Store