The problem: rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere
carbon dioxide level2, which is the main greenhouse gas, has been rising since the Industrial Revolution and is at its highest levels for about 4 million years. The rate of rise is even more impressive, which is Faster for 66 million yearswhere scientists say we are in “uncharted territory”.
Reasons (1): fossil fuel combustion
Billions of tons of carbon dioxide2 It is pumped into the atmosphere every year from burning coal, oil and gas. The slight decline in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus lockdowns was no more than “small picture“In the ongoing buildup of greenhouse gases, according to the World Meteorological Organization, emissions have rebounded.
Reasons (Second): Destruction of forests
Deforestation for the use of timber, livestock, soybean oil and palm trees is a significant contributor to carbon dioxide production2 emissions. It is also an important reason for Extermination of wildlife on Earth.
Reasons (third): methane emissions
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and emissions grow faster More than at any time in 40 years of observations. Agriculture, especially livestock, as well as fossil fuel extraction and landfill sites, are responsible. Warming wetlands may also contribute.
Consequences: global warming
The average temperature of the planet began to rise steadily two centuries ago, but it has risen sharply since World War II with increased consumption and population. Global warming means there is more energy in the atmosphere, making Extreme weather events are more frequent and more severe.
Consequences: rising sea levels
Sea levels are rising relentlessly as land ice melts and hotter oceans expand. Sea levels are slow to respond to global warming, so even if the temperature rise is limited to two degrees Celsius, One in five people in the world will eventually experience their cities under waterFrom New York to London to Shanghai.
Consequences: Arctic sea ice shrinking
When heating melts sea ice, it reveals darker waters that absorb more of the sun’s heat, causing more heat – one example of vicious circles in the climate system. Scientists believe that changes in the Arctic may be responsible for Exacerbation of heat waves and floods in Eurasia and North America.
Upside (I): Wind and solar power are on the rise
Huge cost reductions have helped renewable energy become the cheapest energy in many places and its rollout is expected to continue. The cost advantage over fossil fuels is greater with higher prices after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But a lot of government measures are still needed to reach the required scale, and tackle difficult sectors such as aviation and steel.
Upside (II): Electric cars
The global fleet of cars and vans is still small compared to the fleet powered by fossil fuels. But sales are growing very quickly, and governments are setting deadlines for selling petrol and diesel cars. Electric cars are cheaper to runindicating that they will quickly dominate.
Upside (III): Battery costs
Renewable energy is intermittent, and varies as the sun shines or the wind blows. So storage is vital and the cost of batteries is going down. But other technologies with a longer shelf life, such as green hydrogen, will also be needed.