The with its time span being divided into

The Earth has existed for 4.5 billion years- with its time
span being divided into various eras & periods. Throughout these periods,
the earth has undergone various climate changes which have affected our planet’s
surface. These changes in climate have been key to the shaping of our Earth’s
geographical feature as well as to the origin and evolution of life on this
planet. For instance, during periods when the Earth has frozen, not even
bacteria have survived. For those reasons we must understand climate and the
impact of climate change.

            Climate can
be defined as the weather found in a particular area over a long period of
time.  Climate includes factors such as average
temperatures, average humidity, average amount of rainfall, among others. On
the other hand, climate change involves the statistical alterations in weather
patterns documented over a number of decades (documented for at least 30 years).
For example, over the span of the last 650,000 years, the Earth gone through seven glacial events. In previous time
periods, these drastic climate changes have resulted as a response to
environmental factors (volcanoes erupting), or even the position of the sun
regarding earth’s surface. However, recent variations in climate patterns result
from human interaction with the environment (and atmosphere).

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            During the 18th
century, the Industrial Revolution gave way to new machinery where coal was
used as fuel. Eventually, the exploitation of coal gave rise to an oil industry,
which is of immense economic value to countries like the United States. However,
fossil fuel exploitation does not benefit the environment nor the atmosphere. Although
fossil fuels are natural resources, they are non-renewable, meaning that once
they are consumed, they are not replenished. Above all, fossil fuels-which are
hydrocarbons- produce a great amount of gas emissions when they are burned. When
gases such as methane or carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere, they
do not leave the Earth. Instead, they accumulate and form a thick layer that
acts as a greenhouse. In other words, these gasses stick together and form a
barrier which allows heat to trespass into the atmosphere, but does not allow
the exiting of gasses or heat. Under normal conditions, the sun’s rays would
reach the Earth and most of the heat would escape the atmosphere. However,
greenhouse gasses trap the sun’s heat in the atmosphere, thus resulting in
increased global temperatures. Likewise, the practice of deforestation contributes
to climate change. On average, 3.5 to 7 billion trees are cut down every year,
therefore limiting the source of carbon dioxide absorption. Since there are
less plants to absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, the amount of carbon
dioxide in the atmosphere keeps accumulating more and more. Scientists have
documented the increase in carbon dioxide levels since the 1950s and have compared
them with the previous carbon dioxide levels found throughout Earth’s time
span. Since 1950, the carbon dioxide levels surpassed the levels found in other
time periods. Likewise, the levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide have only kept
increasing during the last 70 years.

            During the
early 2000s, global warming (the name given to our current climate change) was
popularized to educate humans on the origins of climate change and its impact
on the environment. According  to
scientists, the temperature increases brought on by climate change result in
droughts, hurricanes, heavier rainfall and the melting of ice caps. For these
reasons, the United Nations has taken responsibility of regulating countries’
impact on global warming. The Paris Climate Conference (COP1)- that took place
in Paris- lasted from November 30th to December 11th, 2015. The resulting agreement-
The Paris Agreement- set the guidelines for each participating country to
follow in order to reduce global warming impact. Every participating country
was required to submit an outline showing how they planned to protect the
environment. As part of this agreement, each country had to report their
emission levels on a constant basis. The Signing Ceremony took place on April
22, 2016, where 175 countries participated. However, the Paris Agreement was officialized
during a Signing Ceremony, on April 22, 2016. Nonetheless, it was finally
enforced one month after 55 of the participating parties had complied with
their paperwork (November 4, 2016). Later on, more countries- such as Armenia,
Iraq, and Chile- signed the agreement. Currently, all countries- with the
exception of Syria and Nicaragua- have signed the Paris Agreement. Currently,
195 countries are part of the Paris Agreement.

            According to the United Nations,
this agreement has a purpose of  “keeping a global temperature rise this century well
below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels”. In
addition, it serves as a way for each nation to reflect on its collective
actions resulting in global warming. Likewise, after engaging in critical thinking
and discussion, each country should focus on solving these environmental
problems. Provided that, to ensure that all nations comply with their role, the
Paris Agreement requires nations to submit pledges known as Nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

            In order
for a nation to take part in an agreement, there needs to be a signature and a
ratification. The signature is an agreement made between delegates of different
countries. After the signing of an agreement takes place, the state must
approve of said agreement. When the state confirms and communicates its
consent, the ratification takes place. NDCs- originally named Intended National
determined contributions- are required once a country completes the
ratification process. These pledges require a form of mitigation, which consists
of an action plan to lower climate change. It also requires a form of
adaptation, which involves preparing for future atmospheric/natural disasters that
can result from global warming. For instance, engineers may build
infrastructure that withstands earthquakes, or cities may create an emergency
plan for hurricane season.

            On the
contrary, the creation of these mitigation and adaptation blueprints does not
guarantee a change unless the NDCs are enforced. Although 195 countries have
signed the agreement, not all have ratified. In other words, many of these
countries have not yet started working on their NDCs, meaning that these have
not provided a solution to environmental problems. Similarly, there are
countries that have ratified and have provided NDCs, yet have not done their work.
Many times, countries do not have the economic means to abilitate their NDC
reforms. Other times government officials dismiss global warming because they
do not believe it is a real threat. These types of officials traditionally
believe that efforts against climate change cost time and money which could be
inverted in other areas. For instance, Donald Trump-the president of the United
States- denies scientific evidence sustaining climate change. To add on, he has
expressed his wish for the United States to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.
In these types of situation where governments fail to respond, small groups of
people work on implementing NDCs. These people – who are not part of the
national government- educate and persuade the people that make impacting
decisions. Contrastingly, countries with strong leaders who follow on these
rules have better success when implementing NDCs.