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Understanding the Impact: Global Temperature Rise and Its Effects on the Planet

In 2023 there were 28 extreme weather events, costing the US over 92.8 billion dollars. These weather events destroyed homes and cities, and killed 492 innocent citizens—the 8th most disaster-related fatalities for the contiguous U.S. since 1980. [2] Global temperatures have risen 1.1 degrees celsius from 1901-2020. This has already impacted our planet and led to record-breaking heat waves on land and in the ocean, drenching rains, severe floods, multiyear-long droughts, extreme wildfires, and widespread flooding during hurricanes are all becoming more frequent and more intense events. [3] This is mostly due to the industrial revolution and increased burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, and agricultural practices. In this blog we will explore how greenhouse gas emissions are raising global temperatures.


greenhouse effect

How do Carbon Emissions Raise Global Temperatures

Greenhouse gases trap energy from the sun in the earths atmosphere casing an increase in global temperatures. This relationship is commonly know as the “greenhouse effect”. Similar to how a greenhouse traps heat for plants to grow, the greenhouse gases in the earth atmosphere heat up our planet. These are necessary to maintain life on earth, as removing greenhouse gases would make the earth uninhabitable. Its import for us to be mindful of our carbon emissions from human activities. The increase in greenhouse gas emissions can trap excess heat in our atmosphere and push global temperatures past inhabitable conditions. If the earth is to just rise to 3 degrees we will see drastic impacts on our planet.


Historical Context

Since the industrial revolution emissions have been on an clear upwards trend. the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose from 275 parts per million (ppm) in 1750 to 415 ppm globally now. [4] A major contributor to the drastic increase has been the burning of fossil fuels, where global carbon emissions have significantly increased since 1900. Since 1970, CO2 emissions have increased by about 90%, with emissions from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes contributing about 78% of the total greenhouse gas emissions increase from 1970 to 2011. [5]


keeling curve
Source: Nat Geo

Evidence of Temperature Rise

There has been tons of documented evidence of global temperature rise. The first documented evidence was in 1938 when steam engineer named Guy Stewart Callendar decided to take a break from his day job and began painstakingly collecting records from 147 weather stations across the world. Doing all his calculations by hand, he discovered that global temperatures had risen 0.3°C over the previous 50 years. [6] Just two decades later in 1958 Dr. Keeling began taking measurements of C02, which led a to a major discovery in the 20th century, the Keeling Curve. This shows the monthly average CO2 concentration in ppm. This chart shows a clear uptrend.


Global Impacts of Rising Temperatures

There are many negative benefits to climate temperatures rising. First are the environmental impacts, we will see melting ice caps which lead to raising sea levels, more intense natural disasters, devastating heat waves, loss of biodiversity, and possible forest fires and droughts. On top of the environmental impacts are the socioeconomic affects, including food and agricultural challenges, human health, damaged infrastructure , water security, and financial and economic markets. This will impact billions of lives over the next century, and reducing global temperatures is vital to human survival.


Responses and Solutions

As the evidence for temperature has become more and more undeniable countries and international organizations have begun to take action. In 1970 Earth Day was created, and 2 years later the first UN Human Environment Summit was held in Stockholm. The were no global agreements until the 1990 from the First IPCC Assessment Report (FAR) underlined the importance of climate change as a challenge with global consequences and requiring international cooperation. This along with the following annual reports laid the ground work for many international agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 which can be credited as one of the first carbon market with its “emissions permits” market. Now there are many carbon trading markets using the cap-and-trade model as it can make it simple to set reduction targets by reducing to total amount of allowable credits.


Conclusion

We must be mindful of our impacts on global temperatures. As human activities contribute more and more to greenhouse gas emissions we must be mindful of our impacts. One way to know your impact on the environment is through the Forevergreen carbon calculator. It is the easiest way to calculate your carbon footprint and take action. I hope you learned a little about the importance of reducing global temperatures!


References and Further Reading

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