causes the Earth’s temperature to increase, which leads to negative impacts on the environment and human health
The issue at hand: As the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases, the temperature of the Earth also rises. This has detrimental effects on both the environment and human well-being.
The concentration of carbon dioxide, which is the primary contributor to the greenhouse effect, has been increasing since the Industrial Revolution and is currently at its highest level in approximately four million years. This rise is particularly alarming, as it is the most rapid increase seen in the past 66 million years. Scientists warn that the world is entering uncharted territory.
The root of the issue (I): combustion of non-renewable resources
2 are released annually
Each year, an enormous amount of carbon dioxide totaling billions of tonnes is emitted.2
“Despite efforts to reduce emissions, significant amounts of carbon dioxide continue to be released into the atmosphere each year through the burning of coal, oil, and gas. The decrease observed in 2020 due to COVID-19 lockdowns was minimal and emissions have since returned to their previous upward trend.”
The second cause of forest destruction is human activity, particularly deforestation for the purpose of agriculture, logging, and urbanization. This is one of the main drivers of deforestation globally and has a major impact on forest ecosystems and biodiversity.
Cutting down trees for the purpose of timber, beef, soy, and palm oil production is a major source of CO2 emissions.2
Emissions are a major contributor to the extinction of wildlife.
Reasons for methane emissions
Methane is a powerful contributor to global warming, responsible for 25% of current climate change. Activities such as extracting fossil fuels, raising cattle, growing rice, and managing landfills all contribute to its release. Scientists have observed a concerning increase in methane emissions since 2007, potentially linked to rising temperatures in wetlands.
The result: increase in global temperatures
The Earth’s mean temperature has been consistently increasing for the past 200 years and has sharply risen since the second world war due to higher levels of consumption and population. In 2023, numerous records were broken, solidifying it as the warmest year ever recorded. The phenomenon of global warming has resulted in a higher amount of energy in the atmosphere, leading to an increase in the frequency and intensity of severe weather events.
The outcome: increasing sea levels
The ocean levels are gradually increasing due to the melting of land ice and the expansion of warmer oceans. These changes occur slowly in response to global warming, meaning that even if the temperature only rises 2C above pre-industrial levels, one-fifth of the world’s population will eventually face the submergence of their cities, including New York, London, and Shanghai.
means a loss of habitat for polar bears
The impact: the reduction of Arctic sea ice results in a decrease in the living space for polar bears.
The melting of sea ice due to heating exposes darker water, which absorbs more heat from the sun. This creates a cycle of increasing warmth, which is one example of the harmful patterns in the climate system. Researchers believe that these changes in the Arctic may be contributing to more intense heatwaves and floods in Eurasia and North America.
Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power are experiencing a significant increase in production.
The significant decrease in expenses has greatly contributed to the affordability of renewable energy, making it the most cost-effective source of electricity in the majority of locations. This rapid increase is projected to persist, but efforts and assistance are still necessary in order to reach the necessary level, particularly in developing nations.
The upside (II): electric vehicles
The number of electric cars and vans in use worldwide is currently small in comparison to those powered by fossil fuels. However, there has been a rapid increase in sales, and some countries have already reached a point where adoption of electric vehicles is becoming more widespread. Due to their lower cost of ownership and operation, it is expected that electric cars will eventually replace traditional combustion engine vehicles.
The upside (III): battery costs
Decreasing battery expenses not only boost the popularity of electric vehicles, but also make it possible to store renewable energy during sunny and windy conditions. However, other technologies that have a longer storage capacity, like green hydrogen, will also be necessary.