Global warming and climate change shall be looked at in this section. This section attempts to provide insights into what governments, companies, international institutions, and other organizations are attempting to do about this issue, as well as the challenges they face. Some of the major conferences in recent years shall also be discussed.
Global warming and climate change refer to an increase in average global temperatures. Natural events and human activities are believed to be contributing to an increase in average global temperatures. This is caused primarily by increases in “greenhouse” gases such as Carbon Dioxide (CO2).
A warming planet thus leads to a change in climate which can affect weather in various ways.
The climate is changing. The earth is warming up, and there is now overwhelming scientific consensus that it is happening, and human-induced. With global warming on the increase and species and their habitats on the decrease, chances for ecosystems to adapt naturally are diminishing.
Many are agreed that climate change may be one of the greatest threats facing the planet. Recent years show increasing temperatures in various regions, and/or increasing extremities in weather patterns.
This section, we shall be looking at what causes climate change, what the impacts are and where scientific consensus currently is.
In 2013, the earth’s surface temperature was around 0.37 Celsius degrees warmer than the 20th century average. The global anomaly in surface temperature might be the cause of an increase in sea level, a decrease in arctic ice and the growing number of weather-related catastrophes, including storms, floods and droughts. The economic loss due to the 2012 drought in the United States reached around 20 billion U.S. dollars, making it the country’s most costly drought in history.
Facts and Figures
- From 1880 to 2012, average global temperature increased by 0.85°C. To put this into perspective, for each 1 degree of temperature increase, grain yields decline by about 5 per cent. Maize, wheat and other major crops have experienced significant yield reductions at the global level of 40 megatonnes per year between 1981 and 2002 due to a warmer climate.
- Oceans have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished and sea level has risen. From 1901 to 2010, the global average sea level rose by 19 cm as oceans expanded due to warming and ice melted. The Arctic’s sea ice extent has shrunk in every successive decade since 1979, with 1.07 million km² of ice loss every decade
- Given current concentrations and on-going emissions of greenhouse gases, it is likely that by the end of this century, the increase in global temperature will exceed 1.5°C compared to 1850 to 1900 for all but one scenario. The world’s oceans will warm and ice melt will continue. Average sea level rise is predicted as 24 – 30cm by 2065 and 40-63cm by 2100. Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries even if emissions are stopped
- Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have increased by almost 50 per cent since 1990
- Emissions grew more quickly between 2000 and 2010 than in each of the three previous decades
- It is still possible, using a wide array of technological measures and changes in behaviour, to limit the increase in global mean temperature to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels
- Major institutional and technological change will give a better than even chance that global warming will not exceed this threshold