No matter what side you are on in any debate, on any topic, facts do matter. Whether you are against something or for something or if you have truly no opinion, it is still vital to know why you stand for a particular position. For me, understanding the reality behind climate change is essential, and that is what I want to bring to your attention today.
So what is climate change? As the phrase itself indicates, it is the process of temperature, precipitation, humidity, wind and seasons (elements of climate) shifting. Monitoring climate change is important as it shapes natural ecosystems, which in turns, shapes us humans and the way we live. While some changes in the climate are expected, the current problem lies in the rate at which those changes have been progressing. The most important shift we are currently concerned with is the warming of the planet, known as global warming. According to Washington state’s Department of Ecology, “rising levels of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere have warmed the Earth and are causing wide-ranging impacts, including rising sea levels; melting snow and ice; more extreme heat events, fires and drought; and more extreme storms, rainfall and floods”. To better understand the shifts in not just the temperature, but also the climate as a whole, here is a visual indicating climate change trends in the U.S.A.
On a broader level, here is how global warming is predicted to impact the entirety of the world:
These trends are projected to not only continue but to also accelerate, and they will pose significant risks to both humans and to our planet. Global warming impacts our health, our agriculture, our freshwater supplies, our coastlines, and natural resources that are vital for the survival of the human race. But we’re not responsible for this, correct? This is an environmental problem, not a us problem, right? Wrong. Absolutely wrong. Humans are very much so responsible for climate change; just take a look at this visual explanation.
To sum up some facts and numbers, let’s look at data provided by both NASA and the U.N. (this information is readily available on their websites).
- The current warming rate of the planet is unprecedented in the past 1,300 years.
- Increased levels of greenhouse gases causes the Earth to warm in response.
- Global sea level rose about 17 centimeters (6.7 inches) in the last century. The rate in the last decade, however, is nearly double that of the last century.
Most of the warming of the earth’s surface occurred in the past 35 years, with 15 of the 16 warmest years on record occurring since 2001.
The year 2015 was the first time the global average temperatures were 1 degree Celsius or more above the 1880-1899 average.
Data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment show Greenland has lost 150 to 250 cubic kilometers (36 to 60 cubic miles) of ice per year between 2002 and 2006, while Antarctica lost about 152 cubic kilometers (36 cubic miles) of ice between 2002 and 2005.
- Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by about 30 percent. This increase is the result of humans emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and hence more being absorbed into the oceans.