Climate Change – UPSC GS1

Critically comment on the causes and significance of rising temperature globally. (200 Words)

Global warming has been the greatest issue in the century & has been a matter of concern for scientists as well as communities.
    1. Greenhouse gases- The build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere during the 20th century has resulted from the growing use of energy and expansion of the global economy. Over the century, industrial activity grew 40-fold, and the emissions of gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and sulphur dioxide (SO2) grew 10-fold.
    2. Ozone depletion – Plummeting ozone levels in the stratosphere.
    3. CFCs (used as aerosol propellants, in industrial cleaning fluids and in refrigeration equipment) .
    4. Atmospheric aerosols- They alter climate in two important ways. First, they scatter and absorb solar and infrared radiation and, second, they may change the micro physical and chemical properties of clouds and possibly their lifetime and extent.
    1. Ice is melting worldwide, especially at the Earth’s poles. This includes mountain glaciers, ice sheets covering West Antarctica and Greenland, and Arctic sea ice.
    2. Decline of the Adélie penguins on Antarctica, where their numbers have fallen from 32,000 breeding pairs to 11,000 in 30 years.
    3. Some butterflies, foxes, and alpine plants have moved farther north or to higher, cooler areas.
    4. Precipitation (rain and snowfall) has increased across the globe, on average.
    1. Sea levels are expected to rise between 7 and 23 inches by the end of the century.
    2. Hurricanes and other storms are likely to become stronger.
    3. Species that depend on one another may become out of sync. For example, plants could bloom earlier than their pollinating insects become active.
    4. Severe Floods and droughts will become more common.
    5. Less fresh water will be available.
    6. Threat of food security due to fall in output of grains.
    7. Some diseases will spread, such as malaria carried by mosquitoes.
    8. Ecosystems will change— some species will move farther north or become more successful; others won’t be able to move and could become extinct.. e.g. if sea ice disappears, the polar bears will as well.
Thus it’s high time to think of some out of pocket solutions to combat the evil of global warming by the scientist fraternity as well as a dire need of awareness of the consequences of the effect of global warming to masses for their support to fight


Future climate change will likely negatively affect crop production in low latitude countries, while effects in northern latitudes may be positive or negative. Explain how does this have an impact on global poverty? (200 Words)
A hot and hungry world is expected as a consequence of changing climate which is already jeopardizing gains in eliminating global poverty.
    • Oxfam predicted that due to climate change crop production would be affected which would rise the number of poor people by 10% to 20% by 2050 also with decline in global daily per capita calorie intake. However, these impacts will not be felt equally across the world.
    • Depending on the local rates of warming and crop type, the cereal crop yields are projected to increase slightly in mid to high latitude countries like North America.
    • But, in lower latitudes, cereal crop yields are projected to decrease while the greatest hit on agriculture is expected on dry and tropical regions.
    • Since the countries in these regions (especially Africa) depend mostly on rainfall for agriculture, crop failures are likely to impact the people extremely. This is because, over 70% of the people’s occupation (in Africa) rely on agriculture. Thus, the very basis of its economic subsistence is becoming vulnerable.
    • In South and South-East Asia, where one-third of the global population live and half of world’s poor and malnourished are seen, the impacts of climate change pose serious threat particularly in the equatorial regions. Crop productivity is said to decline by 50% (in rain-fed areas) increasing poverty and hunger.
Price increase for agricultural crops will lead to higher feed prices for meat production which in turn affect meat prices also. Food consumption (both cereals and meat) is likely to fall which will increase child malnutrition and hunger. The world is thus going to experience food scarcity and food security according to its geographic location as a result of climate change.


Write a critical note on the effect of climate change on world’s oceans. (150 Words)
Critically there are four effects of climate change on world oceans:
    • Melting of Glaciers and Ice Sheets: The cycle: (a) Melting of Sea ice to (b) Lowered Albedo to (c) Increase in absorption of sunlight to (d) Melting of ICE. This affects food chain of marine animals and production of phytoplankton (primary food of fish) -RESULT: loss of species, habitat, and life in oceans
    • Sea Level Rise: sea level rose about 15-20 centimetres (roughly 1.5 to 2.0 mm/year). contributor to sea level rise is the melting of glaciers and ice caps.
      1. Very large numbers of wetland and swamp species are likely at serious risk.
      2. the threat of extinction for polar bears, seals, and some breeds of penguins
      3. Over 600 million people live in coastal areas that are less than 10 meters above sea level, they are at-risk areas.
    • Ocean Acidification: An exponential increase in the net amount of CO2 being dissolved in the ocean.
-RESULT: 60% drop in available calcium carbonate, a substance used by many marine organisms (including coral, shellfish, crustaceans, and molluscs) to build their, so productivity and even the survival of thousands of marine species at risk.
    • Thermohaline Circulation: Driven by density gradients in ocean waters, the thermohaline (or deep ocean overturning) circulation is made up of the global flow of ocean currents.
      1. Ocean temperatures and circulation patterns may get change.
      2. Circulation plays a key role in ocean temperature patterns around the globe, weather patterns are also likely to be disrupted.


Contemporary global climate change is an anthropogenic phenomenon. Discuss with suitable illustrations.(200 Words)
When humans distort the natural balance of the ecosystem due to agricultural and technological advancement there is bound to be some change. A few of these changes have been recent due to greenhouse gas emissions which is the biggest player in climate change.
    • 1930’s severe drought occurred in the South West Great Plains in the United States and it was described as dust bowl because the farmers enthusiastically uprooted every shrub and tree for cultivation which resulted in this.
    • Emission of aerosols causes negative radiating property in clouds. e.g. Acid rain and the damage to Taj Mahal in Agra
    • Runoff’s from coastal development and discharges from boats are a source of pollution and also oil spills like in the Sunderbans Mangroove forest recently has caused much damage to the ecosystem and the marine life.
    • The greenhouse gases have also modified the reflective properties of snow and ice it is more likely to be known that more solar radiation is being reflected from the Earth’s surface as a result of human activities. This has led to ozone depletion in the Antarctic.
    • Aircrafts produce linear trails of condensation (Contrails) in regions with suitable high humidity and low temperature. Contrails are form of cirrus clouds which radiate and absorb solar radiation. Such contrails as result of global aircraft operation has led to increase cloudiness and may be estimated to cause a small positive radiating force.
    • Due to global warming there is an increase in sea level rise because of this many islands inhabited by minor population are getting submerged . This results in climate refugees and more influx migration to mainland for survival.
Thus, All these above anthropogenic activities are leading to an unbalance in the natural system of cooling of planet earth. There has to be much measures and stringent usage of fossil fuels so that the future generations don’t suffer the consequence for our mistakes.


Discuss the consequences of Climate Change on agriculture and food security, and on the Coastal Zones of the world. (200 Words)
Climate change which occurs worldwide due to various natural and anthropogenic reasons has various long term effects on agriculture, food security and coastal zones which can be summarized as:
Agriculture: Due to increase in greenhouse gases, general temperature is on the rise which effects the growth and maturity season of crops. Irregular rainfalls, falling depth of groundwater, lessening water regimes of mountainous as well as perennial rivers all contribute towards stressed agriculture. It gets difficult to go for multi cropping on various fields. Increase of atmospheric pollutants also resulting in acid rains, hail storms effect the agriculture.
However at times change of climatic conditions allows growing certain crops in areas where they were not possible earlier. Technological progress has allowed cross breeding and hybridization to cater to climate changeFood Security: The latest IPCC report has raised an alarm that if the global air pollution and green house emission is not controlled, the food security will suffer. Uncontrolled deforestation, irregular rainfalls, increase soil salinity, desertification are some of the causes which act a severe blow towards food security. Lack of marine habitats, fresh water lakes and uncontrolled poaching are leading towards reduced sea food hence effecting food availability.
Coastal Zones: Increase of greenhouse gases causes increased temp which is turn is responsible for melting of glaciers, raising seal level and hence coastal submergence. Climatic disturbances also cause frequent cyclones, typhoons, sea winds which affect the coastal zones directly. However as a disguised opportunity this has also led to the possibility of using the Arctic belt for navigation and extraction of mineral resources.
Thus global climate change has opened up few possibilities along with raising an alarm too. The efforts must be towards sustainable development and mitigation efforts using technology to better utilize the opportunities without causing irreparable depletion.


Discuss the nature and effects of recent natural disasters that are said to be the consequences of climate change. (200 Words)
Climate Change is a major issue requiring global co-operation to mitigate its effects. In the recent past, there have been many unusual climatic events that have been attributed to climate change. Some of these are as follows:
    1. Unseasonal Rain and Hail – Large parts of India have been inundated by unseasonal rainfall and hail. This has aggravated farmer distress by affecting the standing crops. In extreme cases, the unseasonal rain has also caused floods causing widespread damage.
    2. Extreme Heat Waves – There has been a spike in the frequency as well as intensity of heat waves. While IPCC estimates that the global average temperatures have risen by 0.8 degree centigrade in the past 100 years, in selected regions like south India, the average temperature rise has been of the order of 2-4 degrees centigrade.
    3. Monsoon Variations – Climate change also affects the global wind patterns which has an effect on the monsoon winds that bring rains to India. The time and quantity of precipitation is majorly affected.
    4. Increased frequency of high intensity cyclones-Hurricanes in South Atlantic is new phenomenon. Increased frequency of cyclones (due to heating of ocean waters) is another case in point. Such cyclones cause havoc.
These natural disasters have the following effects:
    1. They lead to agrarian distress as the crops are highly vulnerable to climate change.
    2. It leads to a rise in deaths either by flooding or due to thermal stress. The poor are disproportionately affected as they cannot afford or otherwise access mitigation measures.
    3. These events also have inflationary tendencies as they can cause shortages in the supply of food grains and rise in the demand of energy.
While due to their very nature, such events cannot be predicted, their effects can be mitigated by developing a proper plan in order to counter them. A study should also be conducted to ascertain the reasons behind the disproportionate effects of a heat wave in the southern state. Mitigation strategy would flow from the results of such a study.


Distinguish between valley glaciers and continental ice sheets. Which of these are most affected by the climate change process and why? Examine. (200 Words)
Valley glaciers are relatively dynamic. They express both erosion and deposition. Whereas, continental ice sheets are relatively stable in their composition.
Valley glaciers-
    1. They are dynamic.
    2. Water cycle rejuvenates their activity.
    3. They erode the soil in upstream and deposit them into moraine, boulder plains in the downstream
    4. There is huge diversity in topography here. They include u shaped and hanging valleys. Cirques, crevasses, bergschrunds, craig and tail, erratics, kettle lakes, morain depositional plains……
    5. Both altitude and latitude play an important role in forming them.
Continental ice sheets-
    1. They are thickly packed ice sheets.
    2. They are a bit stable over glaciated forms.
    3. Erosion and depositional activities are a bit uncommon.
    4. Water cycle has limited role here.
    5. Latitude is the sole reason for the development of these sheets.
    6. They are not much diverse
Effect of climate change : both glaciers and continental ice sheets are being affected by climate change. But the impact of climate change over glaciers is a bit severe due to their delicate design. Even mild increase in temperatures can greatly affect the health of a glacier. Melting down of glaciers has been being reported from different parts of the world. Frequency of flash floods is being reported in these systems. Unfortunately ‘much resistant’ continental ice sheets are also melting over years due to climate change. Hence this is high time to act upon.


Do you think recent weather anomalies such as extreme heat waves, heavy rains, untimely floods and other similar weather phenomena are the result of global warming? Critically examine and, if it‘s true, suggest who needs to do what to combat the impact of global warming. (200 Words)
In the recent past, weather anomalies like extreme heat waves, heavy rains, untimely floods etc. have increased in intensity as well as occurrence. However, while there is no certainty and linking any individual weather anomaly to global warming is impossible yet we can make a probabilistic determination of the linkages between the two. A study by Swiss researchers has linked 75% of the heat extremes from 1901 to 2005 to global warming. Such linkages have been corroborated by other studies also. Role Of Stakeholder In Combating Global Warming;
At Individual Level:-
  • Here we just need to change life style. Ex-for short distance we need to use cycle and public transport rather burning petrol in car and we should switch off light, fan TV etc. when we don‘t use it.
  • Should make house in such a way that we will get natural light and air so there will be less use AC and light. In short, we should innovate and adopt every step where we can mitigate global warming.
At community level:-
  • Here we can go for social forestry and should make aware people and should work with Government and NGOs.
  • In rural areas community global plant can be made where waste from village will discharge and people will get gas from that plant so use of cow dung and wood so no rise in co2 and no global warming.
At Government level:-
  • Government should spend at least 2 percent of GDP in research of green technology.
  • There should be proper implementation of carbon tax.
  • Government should shift from non-renewable energy source to renewable energy source.
At international level:-
  • Here developed nation should provide know-how of green energy and along with capital to developing and least developing countries.
  • Montreal and Kyoto protocol should be reformed and strictly implement.
  • All nations jointly work on research and develop of green technology so that result will come fast and financial burden will less.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top