We’re Halfway There to the Global Warming Limit
It’s an ominous reminder that our efforts to slow global warming may not be succeeding. According to a new study conducted exclusively for the science publication New Scientist, the Earth has already warmed by 1°C over temperatures during the pre-industrial period (1880-1899).
While that may not sound like much, it has already had very real repercussions. In recent years the frequency of floods and cyclones has increased dramatically across several countries. A recent report published by NASA climate scientist James Hansen also warns of a dangerous rise in sea levels due to the rapid melting of glaciers and continental ice sheets.
Among the less well known aspects of climate change are reports such as the ones from northern USA and southern Canada, indicating that warming temperatures lead to the expansion of the territory of ticks – a parasite that can transmit pathologies such as Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
Asthma and other respiratory ailments are also on the rise. The cause? Due to summers setting in earlier and lasting longer than usual, plants are starting to pollinate sooner and their pollination extends for a greater period of time. This has prolonged the duration for which people are exposed to pollen, thus increasing the likelihood of allergies becoming chronic and asthmatic.
Global Warming is Accelerating
However, what’s even worse is that rise in global average temperature seems to be speeding up. Between 1998 and 2012, the planet has warmed at an average rate of 0.04°C per decade (compared to 0.03°C per decade between 1984 and 1998). That phenomenon now seems to have come to an end, as evidenced by 2014 posting the highest ever recorded temperatures, and 2015 slated to smash those records as well. In fact, the global average surface temperature is predicted to rise by 0.1°C this year.
And to add to it, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are inching upwards with each passing year, being touted to cross 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time since records began. This will only exacerbate the planet’s rate of warming.
The situation is, thus, alaming. Without urgent counter measures – such as a concerted effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – it may just be a decade or more before we even cross the 2°C limit to global warming. There is no telling what kind of impact that would have on the world, but given recent trends, it would be safe to expect even more widespread devastation.
To read more about the study conducted for New Scientist, click here.