CLIMATE CHANGE 101
What is it?
Global warming is the increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s near-surface air and oceans. It occurs when greenhouse gases (for example, CO2, water vapor, nitrous oxide and methane) trap heat from the sun in the Earth’s atmosphere. They let in light but keep heat from escaping, like the glass walls of a greenhouse
A certain level of greenhouse gases and greenhouse effect is needed for the Earth to have an appropriate temperature level, but the increased concentration of these gases cause an exaggerated and harmful increase in the temperature levels.
What is the cause?
Global warming and the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are caused by many things, both man-made (anthropogenic) and naturally-occurring, but the anthropogenic ones cause the most damage.
The increase in CO2 concentration is caused by increased burning of fuel oil, coal and other organic fuels which exceeds the ability of plants and oceans to absorb them. This means the production of every thing we buy emits CO2. The more we buy, the more emissions contributing to climate change. Besides CO2, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and some organic compounds such as methane and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) play an important role in enhancing the greenhouse effect.
As the majority of all CO2 emissions are related to energy production, power plants are the largest emitters. Besides the aforementioned, transportation (by both air and car) is also an important source of greenhouse gases, not to mention household emissions, agriculture, deforestation and unsustainable waste management among others.
What are and will be the effects?
There are three major ways in which global warming makes changes to regional climates, aka climate change: melting or forming ice, changing the hydrological cycle of evaporation and precipitation, and changing currents in the oceans and air flows in the atmosphere. Extreme weather conditions may also arise such as the frequency and severity of storms as well as the frequency of heat waves, floods or droughts.
Scientists predict a worldwide increase in sea levels due to the melting of massive ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland. Many nations around the world (the Maldives to name one) will experience the effects of the rising sea levels, which could displace millions of people. The change in weather conditions will also have an impact on agriculture and food production around the world, resulting in a decrease in food and water security.
2 degrees - What does this mean?
The Fourth Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that by the year 2100, the Earth’s average temperature could rise between 2 to 4.5° Celsius (C) with a best estimate of 3° C (5.4° F) if the world does not dramatically lower its CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions. Such a rapid and significant increase in the Earth’s temperature would result in extensive environmental, economic and humanitarian damage.
How much time do we have?
We do not have any time left. It is not about hundreds or thousands of years; climate change is already happening, so acting now is crucial. The extreme weather conditions of recent years, the floods and droughts, and the rising average temperature are all symptoms that we can already see. Now, it is just how far we let it go.
Verified by whom?
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was signed in 1992 to begin consideration for what can be done to reduce global warming and cope with the inevitable temperature increases. The increase and decrease of the levels of greenhouse gas emissions as well as their effects on the environment are being measured and verified by numerous scientists and organizations all around the globe. Here are a few of the institutions that are deeply involved in studying global warming: United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Met Office Hadley Centre, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, World Wildlife Fund, and the United Kingdom’s Natural Environment Research Council.
Am I responsible?
Yes, you are responsible. Everyone’s daily activities emit greenhouse gases, so everyone is responsible when it comes to reducing them. In 1997, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change led a study based on the work of some 2,500 scientists from more than 130 countries. They concluded that humans have caused all or most of the current global warming. The biggest emitters, of course, have bigger liability, but all the relatively small carbon footprints of every individual also add up.
What needs to be done?
According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, industrialized countries need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 25-40% by 2020 (compared to levels in 1990) and by 80-95% by 2050 to have a 50:50 chance of limiting global warming by 2° C and avoid dangerous climate change. This means that action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions needs to take place now.
What can I do?
Every single person can do something to stop global warming. Take the time to think about what your carbon emissions might be and how you can reduce them. Everyone can make adjustments in their life to reduce their emissions, and most of these adjustments are simple every day things. Leaving the car at home, switching to low energy light bulbs, having a shower instead of a bath or using both sides of the paper are just a few items on a long list of what you can do. Get 11 tips on how to reduce your footprint on our blog here.
What about the rest? Even though there are emissions that you just can’t avoid such as going from the USA to Paris on foot or sitting in the cold, dark apartment in the wintertime, you can do something about these emissions as well. By purchasing carbon offsets and therefore funding projects that aim to protect the environment, you can compensate your unavoidable carbon emissions.
With the help of our online carbon footprint calculator, you can easily measure the carbon emissions related to your travel and household activities. By offsetting these emissions, you will not only shrink your carbon footprint, but also help fund our “avoided deforestation” project in the Kasigau Corridor, Kenya. Learn why stopping deforestation is one of the most impactful ways to battle climate change here.
Offset online with our calculator and receive a digital certificate or offset with the Carby Box on Amazon and receive biodegradable coins that sprout wildflowers when planted. The beautifully designed gift is an impactful way to introduce carbon offsetting to your friends and family.