Why Global Temperature Is Increasing

A woman looks at wildfires tearing through a forest in the region of Chefchaouen in northern Morocco on August 15, 2021: Photo by FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images

Global warming

The period between 2011 and 2020 was the warmest on record, with the global average temperature rising by 1.1°C from pre-industrial values in 2019. The rate of global warming caused by humans is currently rising by 0.2°C per ten years.

An increase of 2°C compared to the temperature in pre-industrial times is associated with serious negative impacts on the natural environment and human health and wellbeing, including a much higher risk that dangerous and possibly catastrophic changes in the global environment will occur.

For this reason, the international community has recognized the need to keep warming well below 2°C and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.

Greenhouse gases

The greenhouse effect is the primary cause of climate change. Some gases in the Earth’s atmosphere mimic the effect of greenhouse glass by trapping solar heat and preventing it from escaping back into space, which would otherwise contribute to global warming.

While many of these greenhouse gases are produced naturally, human activity is raising the levels of some of them in the atmosphere, particularly:

  • carbon dioxide (CO2)
  • methane
  • nitrous oxide
  • fluorinated gases

The main source of CO2 created by human activity is global warming. Its atmospheric concentration increased to 48 percent above pre-industrial levels by 2020. (before 1750).

Smaller amounts of other greenhouse gases are also released by human activity. Although methane has a shorter atmospheric lifespan than CO2, it is a more potent greenhouse gas. Like CO2, nitrous oxide is a long-lasting greenhouse gas that builds up in the atmosphere over many years to millennia. Aerosols like soot, which are non-greenhouse gas pollutants, have a variety of warming and cooling effects in addition to being linked to other problems like poor air quality.

Between 1890 and 2010, it is believed that natural factors, such as variations in solar radiation or volcanic activity, contributed less than plus or minus 0.1°C to the overall warming.

Causes for rising emissions

  • Nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide are created when coal, oil, and gas are burned.
  • Cutting down forests (deforestation). Trees help to regulate the climate by absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere. When they are cut down, that beneficial effect is lost and the carbon stored in the trees is released into the atmosphere, adding to the greenhouse effect.
  • Increasing livestock farming. Cows and sheep produce large amounts of methane when they digest their food.
  • Fertilizers containing nitrogen produce nitrous oxide emissions.
  • Fluorinated gases are emitted from equipment and products that use these gases. Such emissions have a very strong warming effect, up to 23 000 times greater than CO2.

Other effects of global warming

Every year, fresh information regarding the effects of global warming and proof of its catastrophic effects on both humans and the environment are discovered by scientists. Communities suffer, and the mortality toll rises as a result of the frequent and strong heat waves, droughts, and floods brought on by climate change. Scientists predict that if we don’t lower our emissions, climate change would cause the deaths of more than 250,000 people annually and the enslavement of 100 million people by the year 2030.

What’s Going On in This Graph? | Global Temperature Change; Image source- Sky News

And if we aren’t able to get a handle on our emissions, here’s just a smattering of what we can look forward to:

  • Disappearing glaciers, early snowmelt, and severe droughts will cause more dramatic water shortages and continue to increase the risk of wildfires in the American West.
  • Rising sea levels will lead to even more coastal flooding on the Eastern Seaboard, especially in Florida, and in other areas such as the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Forests, farms, and cities will face troublesome new pests, heat waves, heavy downpours, and increased flooding. All of these can damage or destroy agriculture and fisheries.
  • Disruption of habitats such as coral reefs and alpine meadows could drive many plant and animal species to extinction.
  • Allergies, asthma, and infectious disease outbreaks will become more common due to increased growth of pollen-producing ragweed, higher levels of air pollution, and the spread of conditions favorable to pathogens and mosquitoes.

Despite the fact that everyone is impacted by climate change, not everyone is equally impacted. Typically, those who are indigenous, persons of color, or economically marginalized are severely harmed. Even though these same groups have made the least effort to contribute to climate change, they are more exposed to its severe effects due to inequities embedded into our housing, healthcare, and labor systems.

Countering climate change

Every ton of CO2 released into the atmosphere contributes to global warming, thus any emissions decreases help to halt it. Global CO2 emissions must decrease to zero in order to fully halt global warming. Additionally, limiting emissions of other greenhouse gases, such as methane, can significantly slow global warming, particularly over the coming years.

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Sheikh Riad

Sheikh Riad

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