Understanding Climate Change:Should We Adopt “Blanket Effect” As Analogy Instead of “Greenhouse Effects”?

Of course today is the World Metorological Day, before I start writing about the topic let me join with all local stakeholders and the international community to celebrate this day. This year’s theme is Understanding Clouds, according to World Meteorological Organization (WMO) the theme provides an opportunity to highlights the enermous importance of clouds for weather, climate and water cycle.

Its clear that clouds are central to weather observations and forecasts. Clouds are key uncertainities in the study of climate change that I’m going to write about below and the better we understand clouds, the better we get to know about changing climate that puts great threat to humanity in 21st.century.Clouds also play a critical role in the water cycle and shaping the global distributiom water resources.

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Back to our topic, well you’ve probably heard this analogy “greenhouse effect” Its fundamental in understanding what keeps our planet warm and why our global climate changes overtime.

Greenhouse Effect is simply an effect caused by gases in the atmosphere that forms a blanket like shape and trap outgoing radiation then re-emit some of it back down to the earth’s surface. These gases gases are called Greenhouse Gases and the result is called Greenhouse Effect. Key greenhouse gases are Carbon dioxide, Water Vapor, Methane and Notrious Oxide. Global warming (unusual increase in temprature) is ultimately caused by Greenhouse Effect.

Well, I hope up to here you’ve got a connection between “Greenhouse effect” and “Blanket effect” as titled. And what about my doubt ?

To me, I think the analogy “greenhouse effect“has more profic use and require one to understand the actual working of greenhouse (in green house farming) before he/she realize its flaws as analogy. In a bold language, Greenhouse Effect is not direct term and yet it holds a vital point in understanding Climate Change ‘a must know subject of 21st.century’

Picture: A greenhouse

Greenhouses are not found everywhere in the world, in many remote areas of Tanzania a child may grow to his or her adulthood without seeing greenhouse in his or her local environment. How can you teach such person about Greenhouse Effect ? How can he/she able to visualize and relate greenhouse from the farm to greenhouse effect in the atmosphere?

Indeed, I remember in 2014 to my lucky I was invited by one chemistry teacher (Lushoto Secondary School,Tanga) as guest speaker to address Ozone Layer Depletion and Global Warming to t form two students as part of their subtopic in Chemistry Subject. So, I went class and start the subtopic..Guess what ? I introduced the subtopic well but as I went deeper, I found it hard relate between greenhouse effect and global warming. These innocent students had never see greenhouse in their lifetime..Indeed, that was the beggining of my doubt about this widely used analogy.

Instead, I think the “Blanket Effect” analogy should be used. At least the term is more clear and common to describe what’s happening in our environment. We’ll think of something like “blanket of harmful gases” hanging around in the atmosphere that absorbs heat radiation and re-emit some of it back to the earth’s surface and thereby causing persistent imcrease in global temprature which in turn affects global climate pattern.

Now, one may ask, what’s all about ? Well, we all know how climate change affect our lives. Climate change is becoming a subject that should be taught to all people regardless of their ages or education level. Its a ‘must know’ in the sense that, its impacts are universal and borderless. Its extreme weather events threatens agriculture and food security by causing reduction in food production and increase in food prices.

Therefore, the subject of climate change should be made as simple as possible to be understood clearly by rural layman and primary school pupil. And this should start with ‘simplifying’ the Greenhouse Effect analogy into more familiar term like “Blanket Effect”

Thank You ! 

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