Huge quantities of greenhouse gases are emitted from human activities, such as burning fossil fuels, clearing forests for cultivation, and farming.
These emissions create a greenhouse effect that adds to global warming. It's a big concern that these gases are increasing so quickly, and unless something is done, the Earth could reach dangerous levels of temperature change by the end of the century.
There could be several causes for climate change, but the biggest one is the rising concentration of greenhouse gases. Simply put, greenhouse gases are those gases in our atmosphere that trap heat. Some examples include carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons, nitrous oxide and ozone. How these gases affect climate change depends on their amount and their global warming potential or GWP. This metric tells us how long a gas remains in the atmosphere, on average, and how strongly it absorbs energy. Naturally, gases with a higher GWP absorb more heat, and thus contribute more to increasing Earth's overall temperature, or in other words, warming it. Natural sources and human activities both result in the emission of greenhouse gases. One of the most common ways these gases get released into the atmosphere is through the burning of fossil fuels. Burning coal or oil to run industrial processes or giant factories increases the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Indeed, fossil fuels' contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is the largest, in the range of 70- 80% of total emissions. Agriculture is another serious factor; greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture come from livestock, such as cows, agricultural soils, and rice production, and are in the range of 10-15% of all emissions. Clearing forests for cultivation, industry and other human activities also increases concentrations of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide. The share of changes in land use patterns represents 5-10% of all emissions. Carbon dioxide concentration is the highest among all greenhouse gases in the atmosphere; therefore, it is a significant contributor to global warming. Since the industrial revolution, a drastic increase in economic activity has triggered a sharp uptick in carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. These emissions are higher than the amount that can be captured by the earth’s natural carbon cycle. This is why rising carbon dioxide emission is a point of great concern to every nation on the planet. The rise in global temperature changes several other weather patterns and geographical conditions. For example, an increase in temperature directly impacts the snow, river and lake ice, sea ice, glaciers, ice caps, ice shelves and ice sheets, as well as frozen ground, also known as permafrost. The rising surface temperature causes a decline in ice mass. Ice mass measurement by NASA's satellite shows that the Antarctic and Greenland mass is declining at an unprecedented rate. Glaciers are also retreating almost everywhere, including the Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, Alaska, and Africa. Furthermore, oceans absorb almost 90% of the excess heat from the surrounding air, making it warmer. Although most of the heat is absorbed in the surface, as the rate of warming increases, the heat permeates to deeper waters and harms marine ecosystems. Sea level rise is caused primarily by water from melting ice sheets and glaciers and the expansion of seawater as it warms. Satellite observations indicate that the sea height is increasing rapidly and will continue to rise at an increasingly rapid pace. The rise in sea levels negatively affects the populace of coastal areas. It also plays a role in flooding and leads to an increase in storms. Climate change also leads to changes in the frequency, intensity, spatial extent, duration, and timing of weather and climate extremes. Some extreme weather events include floods, droughts, hurricanes, and heat waves. Weather and climate extremes occur when the weather or climate metric is above or below a threshold value of the variable. Some of the changes in weather patterns include an increase in the number of warm days and nights, a decrease in cold days and nights, and an increase in the frequency and intensity of daily temperature extremes. As you can imagine, climate change or global warming doesn't happen overnight; these changes occur over decades or even centuries. Thus, it stands to reason that it's impossible to either stop or completely reverse its effects in just a few weeks or months. However, as a community, we could do many things to slow down global warming and eventually embrace ways to stop or reverse it. The first and most crucial aspect of recovery is awareness, namely understanding and spreading awareness about the risks associated with climate change. On a personal level, we could look at our transportation and power consumption habits. Since industrial and automobile emissions, along with the consumption of electricity, which is primarily generated by burning fossil fuels, are the most significant reasons for increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, rethinking these consumption patterns would make a measurable dent in our collective carbon emissions. Climate change is a real threat, but if we all come together, take a stand, and be more environmentally conscious in our decisions, we can still save our beautiful blue planet.