Climate change refers to a long-term, significant change in the earth’s climate system, which impacts all aspects of the environment (earth, air, water, ice, flora and fauna). It is not necessarily human-induced, but the term is often used synonymously with the more precise description man-made global warming. Long-lived, large-scale, far-reaching global climate change is distinct from short-term changes (defined as less than 10 years) in local or regional weather. However, climate determines weather and creates specific weather events.
How does climate change impact the environment?
The planet’s surface temperature is mainly determined by solar radiation, the light and heat of the sun, which is partly absorbed and partly reflected by the atmosphere and the earth’s surface. The patterns of climate change that are currently being observed are mainly caused by greenhouse gases trapping the reflected radiation, leading to increased temperatures within the atmosphere. Other, non-man-made climate change events in the earth’s past were caused by extraordinary incidents including solar intensity variations, volcanic eruptions, tectonic shifts and asteroid impacts.
How will climate change affect us?
Since climate change affects all aspects of the ecosystem, it is already having a significant impact on human life. Scientists largely agree that the following events have already been caused or could be caused in future: an increase in average global surface temperatures, rising sea levels, thawing permafrost and melting ice sheets, desertification, ocean acidification, loss of biodiversity, plus extreme weather events like excessive precipitation or droughts, heatwaves and the ensuing wildfires. In the long run, a continued increase in average temperatures could even seriously threaten life on earth as we currently know it.
Combating climate change with low-carbon technologies
The predecessors of MAN Energy Solutions played a significant part in the Industrial Revolution. As the impact of emissions caused by human activities and fossil fuel-powered industrial activity became increasingly clear, MAN Diesel & Turbo committed itself to increasingly focus on low-carbon alternatives and worked towards reducing emissions. This transformation culminated in the successful rebranding as MAN Energy Solutions, complete with a new focus on sustainable technologies and solutions, set to become the main source of revenue by 2030.
Minimizing the shipping industry’s contribution to climate change
With shipping predicted to grow up to 250% by 2050 there is no doubt that the industry has to take action to reduce harmful emissions. Although freight tankers, cruise ships and container carriers cover long distances, a disproportionate amount of the greenhouse gases produced emerge from shorter distances in harbors where they dock, maneuver, load and unload their cargo. Hybrid tugs offer a smart solution that optimizes performance, lowers costs, and cut emissions. A switch to hybrid propulsion in shipping ports isn’t just necessary to comply with existing regulations, it’s also one small step towards future-proofing the industry and preventing climate change.
Concrete steps to combat climate change
Matthias Zelinger, energy policy expert from the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association, outlines mid- and long-term solutions for the climate emergency, emphasizes the importance of political collaboration and explains why student protests against human-caused climate change give a positive signal.