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Things You Didn’t Know About Climate Change and Global Warming

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Things You Didn’t Know About Climate Change and Global Warming

Things You Didn't Know About Climate Change and Global Warming

Climate change refers to significant changes in global temperature, precipitation, wind patterns and other measures of climate that occur over several decades or longer.

The seas are rising. The foods we eat and take for granted are threatened. Ocean acidification is increasing. Ecosystems are changing, and for some, that could spell the end of certain regions the way we have known them. And while some species are adapting, for others, it’s not that easy.

Evidence suggests many of these extreme climate changes are connected to rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere — more often than not, the result of human activities.

Carbon Cycle:

Carbon cycle describes the process by which living things absorb carbon from the atmosphere, sediments and soil, or food. To complete the cycle, carbon returns to the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide or methane by respiration, combustion or decay.

Carbon dioxide is the gas that accounts for about 84 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. The largest source of carbon dioxide emissions is combustion of fossil fuels. Combustion can be from mobile (vehicles) or stationary sources (power plants). As energy use increases, so do carbon dioxide.

Climate Change Adaptation:

Climate change adaptation refers to the adjustments societies or ecosystems make to limit the negative effects of climate change or to take advantage of opportunities provided by a changing climate. Adaptation can range from farmers planting more drought-resistant crops to coastal communities evaluating how best to protect themselves from sea level.

Global temperature:

Global temperature is an average of air temperature recordings from weather stations on land and sea as well as some satellite measurements. Worldwide, 2006-2015 was the warmest decade on record since thermometer-based observations began nearly 150 years ago.

Global warming:

In the early 1960s scientists recognized that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was increasing. Later they discovered that methane, nitrous oxide and other gases were rising. Because these gases trap heat and warm the Earth, as a greenhouse traps heat from the sun, scientists concluded that increasing levels of “greenhouse gases” would increase global warming.

Global Warming Potential (GWP):

Global Warming Potential (GWP) is the ability of a greenhouse gas to absorb heat compared to carbon dioxide over a specified period of time, from 20 to 500 years. The time frame is important because each gas has a different rate at which it is removed from the atmosphere. For each time period, carbon dioxide is always set at “1”, and other greenhouse gases are compared to carbon dioxide for the same time frame. For example, the sulfur hexafluoride’s GWP at 20 years is 15,100, meaning it has 15,100 times more warming potential than carbon dioxide in that time frame.

Greenhouse gases:

The main greenhouse gases are water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). Water vapor is the most plentiful at about one percent. The next most plentiful is carbon dioxide at 0.04 percent. The effect of human activity on global water vapor concentrations is too small to be important. The effects of human activity on the other greenhouse gases, however, is large and very important. These gases are increasing faster than they are removed from the atmosphere.

Here are some interesting facts you need to know about climate changes and global warming;

  1. The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2)​​​​​​​ in our atmosphere, as of 2020, is the highest it has been in 3 million years.
  2. 2016 ​was the warmest year on record. NASA and NOAA data show that global averages in 2016 were 1.78 degrees F (0.99 degrees C) warmer than the mid-20th century average. Seventeen of the 18 warmest years have occurred since 2000.
  3. Eleven percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans are caused by deforestation — comparable to the emissions from all of the cars and trucks on the planet.
  4. The Amazon is a carbon-storing powerhouse. In the Amazon, 1% of tree species sequester 50% of the region’s carbon.
  5. Eleven percent of the world’s population is currently vulnerable to climate change impacts such as droughts, floods, heat waves, extreme weather events and sea-level rise.
  6. Just 0.7% of the world’s forests are coastal mangroves, y​​​​​​et they store up to 10 times as much carbon per hectare as tropical forests.
  7. An area of coastal ecosystems larger than New York City is destroyed every year, removing an important buffer from extreme weather for coastal communities and releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
  8. Conserving ecosystems is ​often more cost-effective than human-made interventions. In the Maldives, building a sea wall for coastal protection cost about US$ 2.2 billion. Even after 10 years of maintenance costs, it is still four times cheaper to preserve the natural reef.
  9. Tropical forests are incredibly effective at storing carbon — providing at least 30% of action needed to prevent the worst climate change scenarios. Yet nature-based solutions only receive only 2% of all climate funding.
  10. 195 countries signed the 2015 Paris Agreement, agreeing to limit global warming and adapt to climate change, partly by protecting nature.
  11. Natural climate solutions like ending deforestation and restoring degraded forests could, at the global level, create 80 million jobs, bring 1 billion people out of poverty and add US$ 2.3 trillion in productive growth.
  12. Climate change is already affecting our planet. Ice is melting. Sea level is rising. People are migrating. Fresh water is becoming contaminated with sea water. Species are dying. Extreme weather events are increasing.