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Climate change

This article summarises the effect of climate change on different parts of the world and introduces the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Climate change describes the long-term changes in average global temperatures and climate patterns.

Although this change occurs naturally, human activities since the Industrial Revolution such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation, have significantly increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and has become the principal factor for the change.

The adverse effects of climate change are widely seen today in the rising sea levels which are due to melting glaciers and sea ice. Rapid ocean acidification threatens marine life and ecosystems. Extreme weather events such as droughts, heatwaves, forest fires, floods and catastrophic storms are becoming more frequent across the world. Such is the threat of climate change, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, described it as an emergency that is:

 “The defining issue of our time.”
Proactively limiting these greenhouse gases can help reverse the impacts of climate and help save lives and the environment. Sustainability sits at the forefront of this challenge, where establishing an ecological balance is key. The introduction of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) seeks to promote a sustainable future for all generations by addressing global challenges we face including food security, sustainable management of clean water, affordable and clean energy, and the protection of Earth’s ecosystems.
Chemical engineers play a vital role in addressing these challenges and provide a better future for all. Examples of projects they are involved include the following:
  • Optimising processes and improving fertilisers to ensure a more sustainable food supply. 
  • Advocating new technologies such as the treatment of salt water to help tackle drinking water demands in times of drought. 
  • Promoting renewable energy sources such as solar, wind power and geothermal energy to secure a sustainable energy future across the world. 

Further your understanding:

If you would like to learn more about this topic you can explore an article about climate change from the United Nations in the See Also section.

Have your say:

What is your reaction to finding out that chemical engineering has a major role in tackling the effects of man-made climate change? 
Share your thoughts with other learners in the Comments section.

 

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Chemical Engineering: Shaping a Sustainable Future

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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