The Alarming State of Global Warming: Greenhouse Gases and Climate Change

April 27, 2023

Recently, the temperature of the world’s sea surface reached a new pinnacle at 21.1 °C, breaking the previous record set in 2016 and marking the highest temperature ever recorded in over 40 years of official record-keeping. In addition to this unprecedented heat, carbon dioxide levels have surged by over two parts per million (ppm) for the 11th consecutive year, creating the highest rate of CO2 since monitoring began 65 years ago. Previously, there had never been three consecutive years of such high CO2 growth, but now, atmospheric CO2 levels have reached a staggering 50% higher than pre-industrial levels.

As experts sound the alarm, they caution that we are entering into an “unprecedented climate territory”, crossing boundaries that have never been crossed before. Yet, this is just the tip of the iceberg when you think of the sustainability of the Earth, as carbon dioxide is not the only gas contributing to our planet’s warming. Let’s explore more.

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Impact of Human Activities on the Earth’s Balance

The Earth’s atmosphere contains a variety of gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide that retain heat and maintain a natural balance of warmth in the atmosphere. This phenomenon, referred to as “the green house effect,” mimics an agricultural greenhouse. Basically, it is a natural process that helps to sustain life on Earth. Unfortunately, human activities such as deforestation, burning fossil fuels, and industrial processes have caused an unprecedented surge in the amount of green house gases in the atmosphere. The increased levels of GHG have created a disruption in the natural balance, causing a steady rise in global temperatures known as “global warming”. 

Effects of Global Warming on Ecosystems and Biodiversity

The effects of global warming and climate change caused by GHG emissions are serious, and can disrupt ecosystems by disrupting the natural balance of temperature and weather patterns. As a result, extreme weather events such as heatwaves, droughts, and wildfires can become more frequent and severe, disrupting the natural balance of temperature and weather patterns. These changes can have an impact on the timing of natural processes like flowering or migration, resulting in mismatches between species and their food supplies and a reduction in biodiversity. 

For example, as temperatures rise, some animal species may be forced to relocate to cooler areas, and greenhouse gas emissions can contribute to ocean acidification, which occurs when excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere dissolves in seawater, lowering the pH of the ocean and causing massive damage to coral reefs and other marine life.

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Is the Earth facing a new era of climate crisis?

In 2018, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) established the goal of limiting global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, as part of the Paris Agreement. To achieve that, global carbon emissions must be reduced by 50% by 2030. This was a significant step because it marked the point at which the effects of climate change became increasingly severe, and probably, irreversible. For example, limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius could have reduced the risks of extreme weather events such as heatwaves, droughts, and floods.

Despite efforts to limit warming, the World Economic Forum views this as unlikely to happen, and all indications suggest that we will surpass the 1.5-degree Celsius threshold. NASA warns that global warming in fact has already exceeded the 1.5-degree Celsius limit in many regions, affecting more than one-fifth of the world’s population in at least one season. The World Meteorological Organization, on the other hand, estimates that the probability of reaching 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, at least temporarily, in the next five years is 50-50.


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