“We have a single mission: to protect and hand on the planet to the next generation.”
These words spoken by Francois Hollande, the President of France from 2012-2017, did not receive the attention they deserved. One of the hottest topics in current politics around the globe is climate change.
Since the late 1800s, our surface temperature has risen 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit. This has mainly been caused because of the emission of carbon dioxide and other man-made fumes. Although the rise in temperature has taken place over the last two centuries, most of it has taken place since 1984. According to NASA, since 2010, we have recorded the five warmest years in history.
This heat increase has not only affected land, but also our oceans. The top 700 meters of the water temperature has risen by more than 0.4 degrees.
Effects can also be seen in the arctic areas of the world. In Greenland and Antarctica, ice sheets have lost their mass. Greenland has lost about 286 billion tons of ice per year from 1993-2016, while Antarctica has lost 127 billion. Antarctica’s ice mass loss has also not only doubled but tripled in the last 10 years. Glaciers throughout the world have been recorded for retreating. This means that a glacier no longer reaches as far as it has in the past. The most common cases are caused by melting ice and erosion. These symptoms are seen at some of the most popular glacier sites such as the Alps, Himalayas, Andes and Rockies.
Satellites have shown that snowfall has decreased in the past 50 years. These satellites also show that the snow that we do get has begun melting earlier than in the past.
One of the most obvious viewings of climate change is the harsh, extreme weather
events. In the spring of 2019, Nebraska and a few of the surrounding Midwest states experienced a catastrophic series of flooding. Bridges and roads collapsed, houses and cars were swept away, and towns and cities faced mass destruction. The flooding began in March, however, many parts of the state are still experiencing problems and difficulties as a result of the damage after eight months.
Recently, California has begun experiencing yet another horrific wildfire. Yes, the
argument can be made that fires in California are a natural occurrence because of the frequent burning of their forests. However, the size and aggressiveness of the fires have quickly grown since the 1980s. In the recorded history of all forest fires in California, 15 of the 20 largest fires have occurred since the year 2000. This is because of the continuous rise in surface temperature.This warmer air removes water from plants such as trees, shrubs, and grasslands. By doing so, this leaves the plants dry, and even more susceptible to catching, and spreading, fire.
We are mainly familiarized with the events that occur within or near the United States.
However, every country around the globe is affected. Currently, the people of Australia are still suffering from a drought that began in 2017. Farmers are struggling to support life of both plants and animals with the lack of water and food. Because of this drought, Australia is experiencing a bushfire similar to California. The Bahamas recently experienced Hurricane Dorian- the largest hurricane ever recorded in their area. In France, rivers, caused by heavy rain, flooded their banks and caused severe damage. Japan was hit by Typhoon Hagibis, which was claimed to be the “worst storm experienced in the last 60 years.” These are events that have taken place just in the
last two months.
Atmospheric scientists have begun shedding light on this harsh reality we are currently
living in. Thirty years ago, our current environmental position was predicted in graphs and models. Weather extremities were destined to happen with the continuance of emissions. Now, we see these nightmares playing out in our daily life. The only falsity found within the graphs was the prediction of our carbon dioxide emissions. No one ever expected us to be giving off the amount of greenhouse gases that we are, and certainly not at this rate. We have released enough carbon dioxide to continue warming our climate for several decades.