By Evie Purves
Climate change is one of the most serious problems that the world has ever faced.
Disappearing arctic ice, lethal storms and floods, forest fires and fatal heat waves are all signs that our planet is being affected by the effects of global warming,
Scientists can assess the changes in the climate through tree rings ancient coral, and bubbles trapped in ice rings.
It has revealed that is our planet has not been as warm as it is now for at least a whole millennium.
The three warmest years on record so far have all occurred since 1998, and scientists say the world has never warmed up as quickly as it has done in the past 30 years.
Recent studies of the oceans suggest that there is yet more inevitable warming on the way, even without the human contributions.
In the last 20 years, the average temperature has risen by 2 degrees, and developing countries such as Peru have been some of the worst affected in facing this temperature change.
Unsurprisingly, it is people who are causing the change by burning nature’s stores of oil, coal and natural gases.
Billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide are thus released into the air every year.
The dynamics of the “greenhouse effect” has been a matter of scientific fact 100 years.
Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that traps the Sun’s radiation within the lower atmosphere. Along with other man-made gases such as methane, it has accumulated.
If current trends continue, we will raise carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere to double the pre-industrial levels during this century.
From this, it will be enough to raise global temperatures by roughly 2 to 5 degrees Celsius.
Warming to an extent is futile. But to what extent will be determined by the feedback from nature involving changes to vegetation, melting ice sheets, the oceans and water vapour.
This warming is bringing other unpredictable changes too. Diseases are spreading at a much faster rate, and while some crops now grow faster, others are slashed by disease and drought.
Natural disasters are becoming more frequent and far more destructive such as strong hurricanes and tidal waves.
There are fears of a shutdown of the oceans currents that keep Europe warm for its latitude, and each year the arctic sea is melting faster.
The Earth Summit in 1992 saw the world agree to prevent dangerous climate changes, and the creation of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which only came into effect in 2005.
But despite this, the biggest problem is the growing population of the planet, and in particular the developing countries.
More people in the world mean more carbon emissions, which will eventually speed up the effects of climate change ever faster.
But more renewable non-carbon fuels like solar, wind and tidal power are becoming more widely used, as well the new electric powered cars.
But climate change is not only about the rise in temperature around the world, but also the fall.
In 2010, Lima, the capital of Peru, experienced the worst winter climate in 38 years with temperatures dropping to minus 24C.
Rebecca Clements, spokesperson for UK NGO Practical Action said: “People assume that climate change means that everywhere will get hotter but that’s simply not the case, in some areas like Peru, it will get much colder.”
Known for its diverse and wide variety of weathers, Peru has 28 of the 32 world climates, and the Andes Mountains exhibits the largest diversity among the country. The high altitude means winters in this part are very dry and cold.
This extreme cold has a detrimental effect on crops and livestock, freezing mountain streams and making it impossible for crops to grow in such conditions.
The UK has experienced similar radical changes in the winter climate. December 2011 the coldest winter the UK had experienced in over 100 years.
The winter of 2011 was also extremely cold, with an average of just 2.4C.
Prime Minister, David Cameron has said he wants the UK Government to be the greenest ever – both in terms of action at home and internationally. The UK is currently responsible for 4% of world Green House Gas (GHG) emissions.
Despite the need for amendment, climate change and global warming are showing little signs of reducing, with the average percentage of greenhouse gas emissions being up 2.8% in 2010 and carbon monoxide levels rising by 3.8%.
Another factor of the current climate change is the rise in sea levels. Rapidly melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are likely to push up sea levels by a metre or more by 2100.
Low-lying countries with increasing populations, such as Bangladesh, Burma and Egypt, could see large parts of their surface areas vanish.
Despite some attempts from richer countries to tackle the growing climate crisis, carbon dioxide emissions need to be reduced by 70% to 80% in order the stabilise the atmospheric concentrations, and therefore the temperatures.