by Augustin Dagbetin
The industrial revolution has brought about an increase in global temperature due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The resulting phenomenon called ‘global warming’ is defined by the International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) as an increase in combined air and sea surface temperatures averaged over the globe and over a 30-year period . The greater the GHG emissions, the more the temperature increases and alters our ecosystem with unprecedented damages. This essay is an analysis of the current stage of global warming.
The phrase “Global Warming” refers to the long-term heating of Earth’s climate system observed since the pre-industrial period due to human activities, primarily fossil fuel burning, which increases heat-trapping greenhouse gas levels in Earth’s atmosphere. To better understand the concept of global warming, it is imperative to analyze the mechanism called the “greenhouse effect”. The balance between the solar radiation absorbed by our planet and the terrestrial radiation reflected into space determines the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere. It is argued that only a small portion of the radiation emitted from the Earth’s surface and lower atmospheric layers escape our planet, with the majority being absorbed by the upper layers . The capture of this infrared radiation is called the greenhouse effect. The capacity of the atmosphere to absorb infrared radiation depends on the water vapor and the number of small particles such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) within it. Therefore it is acknowledged by many scholars that greenhouse gasses are on the rise ever since the baseline period of 1850-1900 as the result of industrialization. Many scientific articles and reports written on climate change and global warming have mentioned various rises in global temperature throughout the years.
Earth’s temperature is believed to have risen by 0.08° C per decade since 1880. By 1981, the rate had doubled and reached 0.18°C per decade . According to these findings, Rebecca Lindsey and LuAnn Dahlman (2020), the Earth’s temperature would have risen by about 0.72°C since the 1980s . This prediction does not follow the IPCC’s 0.87°C (most likely between 0.75°C and 0.99°C) estimate of global warming from pre-industrial levels to 2006–2015 . The report also stated that global temperature is currently rising by 0.2°C (±0.1°C) per decade . Biplab Tripathy (2019) agrees with the IPCC, arguing that the average increase in temperature in the last 30 years has been 0.17°C/year . Human-induced warming is believed to have reached approximately 1°C above pre-industrial levels in 2017 . In spite of the Paris agreement’s ambitious goal of limiting global warming to well below 2°C while pursuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C , global temperature keeps on rising. From an increase of 0.87°C (most likely between 0.75°C and 0.99°C) in 2015, global warming is argued to have reached about 1°C in 2020.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are at an all-time high in the modern meteorological record, despite the evidence that emissions from fossil fuel usage are likely to have decreased in2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, 2020 has been one of the warmest years on record. According to the World Meteorological Organization, the global mean temperature for 2020 (January to October) was 1.2 ± 0.1 °C above the 1850–1900 temperatures . In the IPCC Working Group II Sixth Assessment Report, it is underscored that “there is at least a greater than 50% likelihood that global warming will reach or exceed 1.5°C in the near-term, even for the very low greenhouse gas emissions scenario”. This is conclusive because during the 21st century, economic growth is being achieved in a way that is not environmentally friendly, with present anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions causing unprecedented consequences on vital ecosystems at a degree far greater than any other previous century.
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