An explanation of rising carbon dioxide concentrations, where does the carbon dioxide come from and what are the side effects.
The Earth’s climate is changing, and people’s activities are the main cause.
Reducing CO2 – Big victories are made of many small ones. If every person in the world even makes a small change to the way we live it would be like a huge tidal wave of global CO2 reduction – use the bike, turn the heating down 2 degrees, turn lights off, insulate, get solar panels.Richard Branson 2006
A top Lloyds insurance representative recently said if we don’t act now to prevent this looming catastrophe, the population of the world will face extinction. If we humans continue business as usual over the first half of this century, human health, water and food security will all be under threat and the collapse of human civilisation due to climate change will become inevitableTim Flannery 2006
Key Effects of Climate Change caused by Global Warming
There is now no doubt in the scientific community that man made global warming which causes climate change is taking place.
- If we humans continue business as usual over the first half of this century, human health, water and food security will all be under threat and the collapse of human civilisation due to climate change will become inevitable – Tim Flannery 2006
- The overall biological productivity of the planet is decreasing due to climate change, which combined with the rapid human population increase means food shortage will become more common.
- The world will be anything from 1.1 to 6.4 degrees C hotter by the end of this century, sea levels are expected to rise by 18 to 58 cm. Destruction of low lying islands over the next 100 years will be inevitable.
- Most of the Artic Ica cap is expected to have melted by the end of this century. The loss of Nanook – the polar bear could be the beginning of the collapse of the entire Artic ecosystem.
- 21 of the hottest years have now taken place within the last 25 years
- Atlantic and Pacific Hurricanes are now 50% stronger then they were in the 1970’s and becoming much more frequent. Each hurricane can cause over $1 billon of damage.
- In the Sudan and Malawi regions of Africa 5 million people faced starvation in 2005 when crops failed and the rains never came.
- 1400 square miles globally are lost to desert each year.
- We are now facing a mass extinction crisis with loss of species 1000 times higher than the normal background rate. 1 in 5 species of animals and plants could be extinct by the end of this century.
- If nothing is done to prevent global warming and there is a doubling of CO2 in the earths atmosphere, within 45 years there will no longer be any optimal parts of the oceans for corals to survive leading to mass extinction of all ocean species depending on coral reefs. Coral reefs are on the bring of collapse. The tourism industry associated with coral reefs currently generates $30 Billion of revenue each year.
- A NASA study has shown that ice mass melting is now 150% above average levels; Antarctica is loosing land ice at a rate of 31 billion tonnes of water per year.
- If half of the Greenland Ice mass melted and half of the East Antarctic ice mass melted as predicted then sea levels would rise by 18-20 feet globally meaning maps of the world will have to redrawn and relocation of many millions of people, towns and cities.
- The melting of ice caps, snow capped mountains and glaciers around the world will mean major disruption of Earths climate patters and extinctions of polar species.
- Damage from tornadoes due to increased temperatures and wild fires due to more frequent lightning are become much more common globally.
- While one area can be hit by massive flooding like Europe in 2003, five million people in the Sudan and Malawi regions of Africa faced starvation in 2005 when crops failed and the rains never came.
- Diseases before more common due to warmer temperatures and alien species are not killed by winter frosts leading reduced agricultural output.
- 26,000 people died in 2003 during a Europe wide heat wave
- For the UK, climate change caused by Global Warming means 20% more rainfall, more frequent heat waves, more severe winter storms, 60% less snow in Scotland, 30% more winter rain and 1 in 3 very dry summers. 2007 was the wettest summer on record in the UK.
- Potential catastrophic effects of climate change; 1, Collapse of the gulf stream which has a 5-10% probability within the next century; 2, Collapse of the Amazon rainforest due to warming and loss of rainfall to the region. The world renown Hadley Centre in the UK predicts this could start to happen around 2040.
- Climate change caused by CO2 release is increasing with population increase. The year 1900 started with 1 Billion people on Earth, the century closed in 2000 with 6 billion people.
- The world’s largest re-insurance company estimates that by 2050 the global insurance bill for climate change related damage could top $500 billion.
- In the end – the environmental budget is the only one that actually counts
The Earth’s climate is changing but in ways that you can’t easily see.
More than 100 years ago, people around the world started burning large amounts of coal, oil, and natural gas to power their homes, factories, and vehicles. Today, most of the world relies on these fossil fuels for their energy needs. Burning fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping gas, into the atmosphere, which is the main reason why the climate is changing.
The Earth is getting warmer because people are adding heat-trapping gases to the atmosphere, mainly by burning fossil fuels. These gases are called greenhouse gases. Warmer temperatures are causing other changes around the world, such as melting glaciers, stronger storms and the loss of wildlife habitats.
When scientists talk about global climate change, they’re talking about the global climate and a pattern of change that’s happening over many years. One of the most important trends that scientists look at is the average temperature of the Earth, which has been increasing for many years. This is called global warming.
Pick your place, Paris or Tokyo. Everywhere is recording record high temperatures within the last few years.
Don’t cut down the forests. The Amazon rainforest has often been described as the lungs of the earth. It absorbs a huge amount of CO2 from the atmosphere and produces 20% of the worlds oxygen. The Amazon is worth far more alive to the environment and medical sciences than it is for timber or grazing cattle. The Amazon is currently being cut down at a rate of 1.5 acres per second.
The Earth’s climate is getting warmer, and the signs are everywhere. Rain patterns are changing, sea level is rising, and snow and ice are melting sooner in the spring. As global temperatures continue to rise, we’ll see more changes in our climate and our environment. These changes will affect people, animals, and ecosystems in many ways.
The outcome of not acting fast enough to slow and reverse global warming will lead to Extreme weather, intense tropical storms, typhoons, flooding and will amount to billions of cost to the world economies, a far greater cost to humanity than not acting very soon.
Less rain can mean less water for some places, while too much rain can cause terrible flooding. More hot days can dry up crops and make people and animals sick. In some places, people will struggle to cope with a changing environment. In other places, people may be able to successfully prepare for these changes. The negative impacts of global climate change will be less severe overall if people reduce the amount of greenhouse gases we’re putting into the atmosphere and worse if we continue producing these gases at current or faster rates.
Shock Climate Change Facts – believe it, this is happening
- We know the planet has warmed by an average of nearly 1ºC in the past century
- 2º is too much – a rise of just 2ºC means: severe storms and floods in some countries, droughts in many more – seas become more acidic, coral and krill die, food chains are destroyed – no Arctic ice in summer – not just bad news for polar bears, it also means global climate warms faster (polar ice deflects sunlight).
- Tipping points and feedback effects– as the earth warms, the impacts can fuel each other and accelerate, causing runaway, irreversible changes.
- Beyond 2ºC – We barely want to think about what this would mean. Rainforests dying. The melting of the ancient ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica. Dramatic sea level rises. And people and animals suffering along the way. That’s why we must act now.
- Below are some of the regional impacts of global change forecast by the IPCC:
- North America: Decreasing snowpack in the western mountains; 5-20 percent increase in yields of rain-fed agriculture in some regions; increased frequency, intensity and duration of heat waves in cities that currently experience them.
- Latin America: Gradual replacement of tropical forest by savannah in eastern Amazonia; risk of significant biodiversity loss through species extinction in many tropical areas; significant changes in water availability for human consumption, agriculture and energy generation.
- Europe: Increased risk of inland flash floods; more frequent coastal flooding and increased erosion from storms and sea level rise; glacial retreat in mountainous areas; reduced snow cover and winter tourism; extensive species losses; reductions of crop productivity in southern Europe.
- Africa: By 2020, between 75 and 250 million people are projected to be exposed to increased water stress; yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50 percent in some regions by 2020; agricultural production, including access to food, may be severely compromised.
- Asia: Freshwater availability projected to decrease in Central, South, East and Southeast Asia by the 2050s; coastal areas will be at risk due to increased flooding; death rate from disease associated with floods and droughts expected to rise in some regions
Effects on People and the Environment
- Crop losses – Climate change could make it too hot to grow certain crops, and droughts caused by climate change could reduce the amount of water available for irrigation.
- Energy – As temperatures rise, more people will need to keep cool by using air conditioning, which uses a lot of electricity.
- Water supplies – Many parts of the world already have very little water, and climate change could make this problem worse. Rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and increasing droughts will affect the amount of water in lakes, rivers, and streams
- Speading diseases – As winter temperatures increase, ticks and mosquitoes that carry diseases can survive longer throughout the year and expand their ranges, putting more people at risk.
- Plants Animals and Ecosystems – Most plants and animals live in areas with very specific climate conditions, such as temperature and rainfall patterns, that enable them to thrive. Any change in the climate of an area can affect the plants and animals living there, as well as the makeup of the entire ecosystem. As the Earth gets warmer, plants and animals that need to live in cold places, like on mountaintops or in the Arctic, might not have a suitable place to live. If the Earth keeps getting warmer, up to one–fourth of all the plants and animals on Earth could become extinct within 100 years. Every plant and animal plays a role in the ecosystem (for example, as a source of food, a predator, a pollinator, a source of shelter), so losing one species can affect many others.
- Forests – As the Earth gets warmer and droughts increase, wildfires are expected to occur more often and be more destructive. Wildfires do occur naturally, but the extremely dry conditions resulting from droughts allow fires to start more easily, spread faster, and burn longer
- Coastal Areas – Hundreds of millions of people around the world live in low–lying areas near the coast that could be flooded as the sea level rises
- Recreation – areas that usually experience cold winters, warmer temperatures could reduce opportunities for skiing, ice fishing, and other winter sports
So this is real?
Abundant data demonstrate that global climate was warmed during the past 150 years. The increase in temperature was not constant, but rather consisted of warming and cooling cycles at intervals of several decades. Nonetheless, the long term trend is one of net global warming.
Corresponding with this warming, alpine glaciers have been retreating, sea levels have risen, and climatic zones are shifting. The 1980s and 1990s were the warmest decades on record. The 10 warmest years in global meteorological history have all occurred in the past 15 years and the 20th century has been the warmest globally in the last 600 years.
What is being done to combat climate change.
- Developed and developing countries are working together to find solutions to climate change. In June 1992, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) was signed by 154 countries that agreed to stabilize the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at levels that won’t cause harm. In December 1997, in Kyoto, Japan, Canada and 160 industrialized nations committed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, as part of an international agreement on climate change called the Kyoto Protocol.
- We need to cut GHG emissions at least 40% (below 1990 levels) by 2020, and at least 80% by 2050. This can only be done by energy efficiency and development of more low energy, low carbon technologies.
- We must dis-enthral ourselves from oil
- within the next 20-30 years we have to change energy production, transport, manufacturing industries, fuel production, reduce air pollution, change fuel types.
- We need to develop Biofuels but we can’t just switch to growing fuel crops as this would take up the whole of the agricultural output leaving no food crop space, driving up food costs.
- Butanol biofuel is at the top end of biofuels, ethanol is at the bottom end. Butanol can be used directly in ordinary car engines but it is still in the process of becoming commercially viable. Biofuels are a cellulose based fuel but britain does not yet have enough maize crop product to make a butanol refinery yet.
- The Virgin group is offering a £25M prise for anyone who can come us with a way of removing 1 billion tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere each year
- In Europe targets have been set to reduce CO2 emissions from 1990 levels by 80% by 2050. Governments will face significant penalties if these targets are not met.
- The majority of countries have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, all except for Australia and the United Stated.
- Global legislation/ C02 control is possible. Control of atmospheric gases has been done in the past with the Montreal Protocol when scientists realised that CFC’s were causing the ozone layer hole. The ozone layer prevents most of the UV radiation from the sun getting to Earth’s surface. No ozone layer means widespread skin cancer.
- The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change is now responsible for monitoring the situation. The reports they produce are reliable and based on the current science.
- Some fossil fuel companies are moving in the right direction. BP has been one of the biggest providers of Solar PV Panels but now appear to be moving more towards wind power and bio fuels, 2013.
- Denmark gets 21% of its electricity from wind generation (2006). 85% of its wind turbines are owned by individuals or wind co-operatives. In the UK the average turbine operates a 28% of its capacity over the year.
- Solar thermal power plants are being developed that generate heat and electricity.
- Solar PV panels are becoming more ready available with prices falling all the time. Solar PV panels are guaranteed for 25 years but most will last up to 40 years.