What is “cumulative impact“?

Cumulative means accumulating or increasing. The cumulative effect thus describes a positive or negative impact, influenced by various factors that reinforce or cancel each other out. However, the factors considered separately may appear only marginal or even insignificant. In sum, however, they can have a major impact. Within environmental justice, “cumulative impact” has great significance.

An example: For a person living in an area with increased air pollution, the health burden increases, among other things, because he or she is exposed to unfavourable conditions at work and cannot afford to pursue compensatory activities or to pay attention to healthy nutrition in his or her free time.

What is “environmental justice”?

The consequences of harmful environmental impacts caused by humans are not equally distributed even within a country or region. Socio-economic factors such as income and education play a significant role. Thus, lower income groups and marginalised groups are more likely to be affected by negative environmental impacts than those who are socially more advantaged.

Environmental justice deals with the equal treatment of all people with regard to their environment. Accordingly, all people should be able to enjoy the same healthy environment, regardless of origin, skin colour, income, or wealth.

What is „climate justice“?

“Climate justice” sees man-made climate change not only as a purely technical challenge and ecological problem but rather as a moral and political issue. The term deals with the current unequal distribution of causation, resources and the associated fight against the consequences of climate change, especially at the global level. The costs of combating and eliminating the consequences should be balanced according to the polluter pays principle. After all, the population groups that suffer the most from the consequences today are usually not the ones who initiated and intensified climate change in the past.

The aim is, therefore, not to distribute the costs equally at the global level but to link them to justice. This should be done by integrating social justice, equality, human rights and collective rights for climate change.

What is “climate”?

“Climate” refers to the average weather, including its extreme values, over a longer period of time at a specific location. “Climate” is therefore not directly measurable anywhere, but a statistic from many measurements. The area can be small or large, a city or a continent or the whole globe. The time period must be large enough for the formation of a statistical mean.

The reference period for determining the climate of the present is 30 years, e.g. the years 1961-1990. If the climate variables, i.e. temperature, precipitation, wind, evaporation, etc., fluctuate around a long-term mean value, the climate remains stable. If the mean value and the variability of the extremes change noticeably, a climate change is present. In contrast to the weather, the statistical mean values of the climate can theoretically be predicted over the longer term, especially for larger spaces such as continents or the globe

More here

Climate Change

“Climate change” refers to the cooling or warming of the Earth’s climate over a long period of time. Not to be confused with weather – what we perceive every day in terms of short-term, current changes in temperature. Climate change is not a new phenomenon. It describes the long-term changes in factors such as temperature, precipitation and ocean currents.

Natural climate change is a process that develops over thousands of years.

Man-made climate change, on the other hand, takes place within a few generations.

Over the last 10,000 years, the temperature of our planet has been largely stable. This changed with the dawn of the industrial age about 260 years ago.

Tipping Points

A tipping point is when the familiar development of a system becomes so unbalanced that it takes on a new development and often cannot be restored to its former state.

Closely related to this is the term “tipping element“. In climate research, a tipping element refers to a part of the climate system whose interrelationships indicate the existence of a tipping point (in the broader sense).

With the help of various climate models, a number of regions have been identified so far where the local climate reacts very sensitively to interventions. Some of these tipping points could already be crossed in the course of the 21st century or have already been crossed.

Such a “tipping point” thus represents a risk where the damage is huge but the probability of occurrence is unknown. In view of the profound changes that each of these scenarios entails, it seems compelling that all these developments also influence each other and that the crossing of one tipping point could indirectly trigger the crossing of another. The complex interactions are unmanageable and by no means fully explored at present.


Short-lived climate pollutants

Short-lived climate pollutants are powerful climate forcers that remain in the atmosphere for a much shorter period of time than carbon dioxide (CO2), yet their potential to warm the atmosphere can be many times greater. Certain short-lived climate pollutants are also dangerous air pollutants that have harmful effects for people, ecosystems and agricultural productivity.

The short-lived climate pollutants black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons are the most important contributors to the man-made global greenhouse effect after carbon dioxide, responsible for up to 45% of current global warming.

More here