The climate crisis explained from the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to possible solutions. Billions of tons of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere each year from the burning of coal, oil, and gas.
The problem: increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
The level of CO2 has been increasing since the industrial revolution and is now at its highest for about 4 million years. The rate of increase is even more surprising, the fastest in 66 million years, and scientists say that we are in "uncharted territory."
The causes of the climate crisis
Burning of fossil fuels
Billions of tons of CO2 are released into the atmosphere each year from the burning of coal, oil and gas. There are no signs that these emissions are starting to drop rapidly, as is necessary.
Destruction of the forest
Cutting down forests for timber, livestock, soybeans, and palm oil is a major contributor to carbon emissions. It is also one of the main causes of the annihilation of wildlife on Earth.
The consequences of the climate crisis
Global temperature rise
The planet's average temperature began to rise steadily two centuries ago, but has skyrocketed since World War II as consumption and population have increased. Global heating means there is more energy in the atmosphere, which makes extreme weather events more frequent and intense.
Melting ice in Greenland
Greenland has lost almost 4 billion tons of ice since 2002. Mountain ranges from the Himalayas to the Andes to the Alps are also losing ice rapidly as glaciers shrink. One third of the ice in the Himalayas and Hindu Kush is already doomed.
Rising sea levels
Sea levels are inexorably rising as ice on land melts and warmer oceans expand. Sea levels are slow to respond to global warming, so even if the temperature rise is limited to 2 ° C, one in five people in the world will eventually see their cities submerged, from New York to London to Shanghai. .
Declining Arctic Sea Ice
As warming melts sea ice, the darker water that is revealed absorbs more heat from the sun, causing more warming - an example of vicious cycles in the climate system. Scientists think that changes in the Arctic may be responsible for the intense heat waves and floods in Eurasia and North America.
The advantage (I): wind and solar power soar
Huge cost drops have made renewable energy the cheapest energy in many places and deployment is expected to continue. Analysts also expect coal use to decline. But a lot of government action is still required to reach the necessary scale and solve tough problems like aviation and agriculture.
The advantage (II) - electric vehicles
The global fleet of electric cars and trucks is still small compared to those that run on fossil fuels. But sales are growing very fast. Electric cars are cheaper to operate, which suggests they will become mainstream.
The advantage (III) - battery costs
Renewable energy is intermittent, depending on when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. Therefore, storage is vital and the cost of batteries is plummeting. But other technologies will also be needed, such as hydrogen generation.
Damian Carrington and Cath Levett. Article in English