World average temperature (°C)
The last report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 5 years ago painted a gloomy picture of our planet’s future – our future. They predicted that global temperature will rise by 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit in the next century! The next report is due this 2014.
Have we made any progress in our effort to stop the contributors to climate change?
Here are some of the global climate change facts:
Global surface temperature reconstructions show that our planet has warmed since 1880. Much of the warming occurred since the 1970’s and 10 of the warmest temperatures recorded occurred in the last 12 years.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Methane are the greenhouse causes that greatly contribute to the warming of the planet.
In the last century, Earth has warmed by approximately 1 degree Fahrenheit.
Industrialization, Agriculture, Vehicle Emissions and Electricity Generation are the top sources of greenhouse gas.
The Ocean’s temperature does not change easily. It’s a vast body of water that takes millennia to heat up or cool down. But due to global warming, the top 700 meters of our ocean showed an increase in temperature of 0.302 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969.
Another change is the increasing acidity of the Earth’s oceans. It is said to have increased by 30%. This is caused by the amount of CO2 being absorbed by our oceans since the industrial revolution. The amount of CO2 being absorbed by the upper layer of water is around 2 billion tons per year!
Global sea level rose by about 17 centimeters in the last century. But the worry comes from the fact that in the last decade, the sea rose twice as much than in the last century.
Since the year 2000, sea levels have risen by 20.1 centimeters and rising.
The rapid melting of the ice in Greenland means a rise of at least 1 meter by 2100, maybe more. The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets show a large degree of melting – its mass has decreased.
Data from NASA shows that Greenland lost 150 to 250 cubic kilometers of ice between 2002 and 2006! Antarctica lost approximately 152 cubic kilometers between 2002 and 2005!
A significant increase in sea level will inundate most of our coastal cities – that’s 70% of the world’s population! 11 of the world’s 15 largest cities live on the coast.
A rise of 1 meter will flood areas particularly in Asia and the South Pacific. Millions of lives will be lost.
Droughts, floods, heat waves, wildfires, tropical storms, earthquakes, tornadoes and other extreme weather phenomena are observed now. They are expected to get worse. There will be longer droughts, hotter summer, colder and longer winters, stronger hurricanes, severe flooding and an intensified global weather condition.
This will lead to diseases such as malaria, dengue and other infectious diseases. This is caused by the destruction of important infrastructure and sanitation services and also due to the changes in our environment and ecology.
All of the factors above when combined will change the landscape of our world and cause stress to our wildlife species through the destruction and change to their habitat.
As an example, polar bears are in danger of starvation due to the long hot summer months. Their species are in the endangered list because of their rapidly melting environment.
Ocean acidification and warming kills our coral reefs which is home to 25% of our marine population and which 90% of all marine life rely on for one reason or another.
Knowing is half the battle won. This is your chance to make a small contribution to the bigger fight to save our beautiful planet. It has nurtured our civilization for so long… it’s our turn now to save it from ourselves.
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