Global warming is the increase of average world temperatures as a result of what is known as the greenhouse effect. Certain gases in the atmosphere act like glass in a greenhouse, allowing sunlight through to heat the earth’s surface but trapping the heat as it radiates back into space. As the greenhouse gases build up in the atmosphere the Earth gets hotter. This process is leading to a rapid change in climate, also known as climate change. The delicate balance of the earths’ eco-system means that what may sound like small temperature changes to you and I, can have far reaching and disastrous effects to the planet we inhabit.
Global warming caused by increased CO2 in the atmosphere is measured in parts per million (PPM). Prior to the industrial revolution (between 1750 – 1850) CO2 was sitting at around 280PPM. In 2016 C02 in the atmosphere reached 400PPM for the first time in over 1 million years. That’s a 42% increase in just 166 years.
Unless you’re well versed in climate change terminology, these are just numbers without any meaning. So to put it in perspective the OECD report suggested that at the very minimum we have to maintain CO2 levels for a sustained period of time at no greater than 450PPM by 2050. Even then it states that there is only a 50/50 chance of this stabilizing global average temperature at 2 degrees over pre industrial temperatures. Note this average temperature increase is considered by many scholars to be the point of no return at which we do irreparable damage to the planet. Worse still is that a report by PWC; busting the carbon budget, says that at our current rate of fossil fuel usage in the global economy, we will exceed that limit by 2034.
A 2013 report written by notable experts in their field; James Hanson, Johan Rockstrom and 15 other notable scientists called ‘Assessing ‘Dangerous Climate Change’: Required Reduction of Carbon Emissions to Protect Young People, Future Generations and Nature’, states that safe global CO2 levels should be at 350PPM to ensure the maximum safe concentration need to stabilize global temperatures.
The consequences of not acting are potentially catastrophic, and a 100% move from fossil fuels to renewable energy seems like the only choice we can make to pull us back from the abyss.