Jan 20, 2018 Last Updated 3:31 AM, Jan 6, 2018

What is climate change?

Published: Jul 30, 2007

Agus P Sari

Climate change happens due to the so-called 'greenhouse effect' (see picture). The greenhouse effect is a natural phenomenon necessary for life as we know it. If there were no greenhouse effect, the earth would be 32 degrees celsius colder than it is now, rendering it uninhabitable. Too much greenhouse effect, however, will lead to global warming and climate change, with disruptive effects on human well-being. The greenhouse effect occurs due to the presence of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. These gases - water vapour, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), chlorofluorocarbons (CFC), nitrous oxide (N2O), and tropospheric ozone (O3) - act like a blanket that slows the loss of heat from the earth's atmosphere.

The concentrations of these gases in the atmosphere are steadily increasing. Carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere was about 350 parts per million (ppm, by volume) in 1990, already one-fourth higher than that in the preindustrial era (circa 1750 - 1850). The concentration of methane at 1.72 ppm in 1990 was more than twice that in the preindustrial era. CFCs are strictly of human origin.

Carbon dioxide has contributed approximately 60 percent of increased global mean air-surface temperature 'forcing' by greenhouse gases over the last 200 years, followed by methane at 20 percent, CFCs at 10 percent, and other gases at 10 percent. Based on a modeling exercise, **IPCC expects that a doubling of greenhouse gas concentrations will increase the global mean temperature by 1.5 to 4.5 degrees Celsius. Thus, IPCC suggests cutting current emissions levels by 60 to 80 percent just to stabilise current atmospheric concentrations.

Carbon dioxide, the most prominent anthropogenic gas, arises primarily from the combustion of fossil fuels and from the burning and clearing of forested land for agricultural purposes. Worldwide consumption of fossil fuels in the period of 1860 to 1949 is estimated to have released 187 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide. Between 1950 and 1990, fossil fuel use had accelerated and carbon dioxide emissions are estimated at an additional 559 billion metric tons.

Agus P Sari (apsari@pelangi.or.id) is executive director of Pelangi, a Jakarta-based environmental think tank. He has followed the climate change negotiations since their inception and has been part of the Indonesian official delegation the last three years.

Inside Indonesia 62: Apr - Jun 2000

Latest Articles

Review: Identity and pleasure, on screen

Jan 06, 2018 - FADJAR I THUFAIL

Source: Cinema Poetica

Identity and Pleasure: The Politics of Indonesian Screen Culture invites us to embark on a visual journey of difficult episodes in Indonesian history

Essay: Masked but not hidden

Dec 04, 2017 - DUNCAN GRAHAM

Credit: Erlinawati Graham

A small museum in Java is preserving a storytelling tradition, and the thoughts and feelings behind it

Essay: Getting to know you through a pendopo

Nov 13, 2017 - DUNCAN GRAHAM

A look at the journey and contribution of a longtime Australian teacher and researcher of Indonesian Studies

When a history seminar becomes toxic

Nov 02, 2017 - SASKIA E WIERINGA

Attacks on a meeting of survivors of 1965 and their supporters at the offices of the Legal Aid Institute in Jakarta in September 2017 do not bode well for human...

Facing history

Oct 18, 2017 - ELSA CLAVE & ANDY FULLER

Credit: http://www.tribunal1965.org

A witness account of the 2015 International People’s Tribunal on 1965

Subscribe to Inside Indonesia

Receive Inside Indonesia's latest articles and quarterly editions in your inbox.

 


Lontar Modern Indonesia

Lontar-Logo-Ok

 

A selection of stories from the Indonesian classics and modern writers, periodically published free for Inside Indonesia readers, courtesy of Lontar

Readers said:

  • Marriage denied
    Sayed - 30 Nov
    I am from Pakistan and living in Indonesia and I am refugee here. I have been here a long time for 5 years but still I did not get any answer from ...
     
  • When a history seminar becomes toxic
    Duncan Graham - 12 Nov
    Thanks for this detailed account - most reports have been superficial. The politics have been done well, but what about the people? I would have ...
     
  • When a history seminar becomes toxic
    Jose - 11 Nov
    Inciting violence is a purpose in itself - violence begets more violence. Turning a peaceful event into a violent confrontation serves its own purpose ...
     
  • Mining – who benefits?
    uhaibm@yahoo.com - 04 Nov
    This paper has been inspired in relation to the exploitation of natural resources, specifically the coal mining industry. I am doing some research ...

30th Anniversary Book

Inside Indonesia - 30th Anniversary Photo Book

 

Have you bought your copy of Inside Indonesia's 30th Anniversary book yet?

The book features 30 of the judges' favourite images from the 2013 Inside Indonesia Photography Competition.

Preview the book  and order your copy online (Soft cover approx AUD$23.00 / Hard cover approx AUD$35.00).