Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Growing Levels of GHGs are Warming the Planet and Contributing to Disasters

New data shows that we are seeing higher levels of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and this is heating up the planet and contributing to disasters. GHG levels have reached unprecedented highs and this is pushing the global average temperature past a dangerous new milestone.

Each year both GHGs and global temperatures keep climbing. As reported in Scientific American, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) carbon dioxide levels have risen for the 30th year in a row. We are right around 400 parts per million and there is no reason to believe it will stop rising. It is important to note that 350ppm is the level deemed "safe" by scientists to avoid global warming.

The burning fossil fuels, agriculture, cement production and deforestation are the main drivers of burgeoning levels of atmospheric carbon. Since preindustrial times Carbon levels have increased 143 percent, nitrous oxide (N2O) has grown by 121 percent, and methane (CH4) has ballooned by 254 percent. Levels of methane are now at 1,833 parts per billion (ppb) and nitrous oxide is now at 327.1 ppb.

WMO warns that this "relentless rise" is fueling climate change and "will make the planet more dangerous and inhospitable for future generations."

WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud explained
"Every year we say that time is running out. We have to act NOW to slash greenhouse gas emissions if we are to have a chance to keep the increase in temperatures to manageable levels...It means hotter global temperatures, more extreme weather events like heat waves and floods, melting ice, rising sea levels and increased acidity of the oceans. This is happening now and we are moving into uncharted territory at a frightening speed."
Two degrees Celsius of warming above preindustrial times is the internationally recognized upper threshold limet and according to the latest data we are already halfway there. As reported by the BBC the UK Met Office and the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, global temperatures are now more than one degree above pre-industrial levels. This is the first time that we have surpassed this threshold. What is even more disconcerting is the fact that the speed at which the temperature is rising appears to be accelerating. A strong El Nino is expected to contribute to ongoing warming well into 2016.

New evidence in attribution science shows that rising GHGs and the resultant higher temperatures are fueling a number of disasters. As reported by Climate Desk, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently released 29 studies that show how extreme weather events are connected to climate change. This includes California’s wildfire season, cold midwestern winters, heat waves in Australia, drought in East Africa and the middle east.

Together these data sets corroborate what we already know, GHGs are making the planet warmer and this is driving a wide range of disastrous climate impacts. Unless we tackle the root cause we can expect the situation to continue to worsen.

September Heat Records Offer More Evidence for Accelerated Warming
Record Breaking Heat Suggests Accelerated Warming
2015 - The Hottest Summer in the Hottest Year on Record
Global Temperature Data Underscores the Urgency of Climate Action
How Much Heat is Required to Spur Global Action? 
At Least 30 Years of Above Average Temperatures
Heat Records Tell the Story of Climate Change
2014 is the Hottest Year in Recorded History
2012 is One of the Hottest Years on Record
Extreme Weather and Existential Reflections on Life in the Anthropocene
Strong Body of Evidence for a Changing Climate
Extreme Weather Makes a Convincing Case for Climate Change
Extreme Weather
The World “Connects the Dots” Between Extreme Weather & Climate Change
More Frequent and More Intense Extreme Weather
James Hansen's 2012 Research Linking Global Warming and Extreme Weather
Video - Climate Change and Extreme Weather: Prof. Jennifer Francis (2013)
Video - Overview of the IPCC Report on Extreme Events (SREX)
Video - Climate Change Fueling Wilder Weather (Climate Commission)

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