What is Climate Change? Is Climate Change and Global Warming one and the same?
How much evidence exists that proves climate change is really happening? The IPCC reveals straightforward facts that tell it all.
The warming trend during the middle of the 20th century is particularly significant. This is because there is more than a 95% likelihood that the leading cause is human activities.
Global temperatures have risen by 1.62oF since the 19th century. Most of these occurred in the last 35 years, with the 5 warmest years ever recorded occurring since 2010. Records show 2016 was the hottest year ever recorded.
Eight of its 12 months (January to September, but excluding June) were also the warmest on record.
18 of the 19 hottest years the world has experienced occurred since 2001.
The oceans’ surfaces have absorbed most of the rise in heat. In fact, the top 700 meters of the oceans’ surface have also increased in temperature by 0.4oF since 1969.
The glaciers and icebergs in Antarctica and Greenland have decreased in mass. In fact, data from NASA shows Greenland lost an average of 286 billion tons of ice per year between 1993 to 2016. Antarctica also lost about 127 billion tons of ice per year during those same years. The rate of ice loss in Antarctica has alarmingly decreased by thrice its usual speed in the last decade.
Arctic sea ice shrank to its lowest level on record in 2012.
Satellite data shows that the Earth’s polar ice sheets are losing 413 gigatons of mass per year.
Global sea levels have risen by 8 inches since the last century. But, the rate of the rise in the previous two decades is double that figure and continues to increase every year.
Since the onset of the Industrial Revolution, the oceans have become acidic by about 30% more. Scientists believe oceans’ surfaces absorb about 2 billion tons of CO2 per year.
CO2 levels in the atmosphere are now at their highest since 650,000 years ago reaching up to 411 parts per million.
What This Means
What do all these statistics mean for the living organisms on Earth? Here are the implications of all these phenomena we are all experiencing.
The Rise in Global Temperatures
Temperatures fluctuate all the time. So why should you care if global temperatures rise by half a degree?
It matters a lot, actually. Thresholds in temperature will cause adverse effects on many ecosystems in various ways. An increase by a few degrees can literally mean death for some species.
In fact, sea turtles are facing the risk of extinction because of the warmer climate. Female sea turtles nest in beach sands. When the sand becomes warmer than is ideal, these turtles will bear only female baby turtles. This poses the risk of the eventual extinction of this species.
Scientists have found that an increase in temperatures of 2oC can already be fatal.
Methane, another greenhouse gas, comes from the transport and production of fossil fuels. Fossil fuel industry activities emit this gas, which is far more potent than CO2. These gases can stay for as long as 12 years in the Earth’s atmosphere.
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