Greenhouse Gases Are Breaking Records

In recent years, a drastic increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere has been observed. Most experts agree that the rate of the increase is greater than anything our planet has ever seen, and mostly due to human activity.

Carbon dioxide, as well as other atmospheric greenhouse gases, are measured in parts per million, also referred to as “ppm”. Before the Industrial Revolution began, atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide were approximately 280 ppm by volume. Today, they measure at about 370 ppmv. This extreme concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere today is higher than it has ever been in the past 650,000 years. Many scientists believe that current carbon dioxide levels are possibly at their highest point in the past 20 million years.

Despite efforts to raise awareness and combat global warming across the world, there is still much progress that needs to be made to minimize the threat. There is still much debate in regard to whether or not these occurrences are a direct of human presence on Earth, or if they are simply part of a greater climatic pattern that spans thousands of years. Overwhelming evidence suggests the former, yet still there are opponents of the idea.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted in their Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES) that by the end of the century we can expect to see carbon dioxide concentration levels at anywhere from 490 ppmv to as much as 1260 ppmv if serious countermeasures are not taken as soon as possible. That new increased level would be between 75% and 350% higher than the pre-Industrial Revolution carbon dioxide concentrations.

An increase of carbon dioxide of that magnitude would likely have severe climatic consequences. When excess greenhouse gases are present in the atmosphere, much of the heat that normally reflects off the surface of the Earth back into the atmosphere becomes trapped, creating a warming blanket all across the planet. As levels of greenhouse gases rise, so will the global temperature. Rising temperatures worldwide can trigger extreme weather events such as hurricanes or floods. To make matters worse, the sudden shift in temperature would upset the natural balance of life on Earth, and animals would be forced out of their habitats in search of more suitable homes.

Whether or not greenhouse gas emissions and global warming are linked is no longer a matter of serious debate. Measures must be taken immediately to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to prevent the onset of total global warming. Every individual can help by making even the smallest adjustments to their lifestyle, whether it be carpooling or implementing a regular recycling routine. These collective efforts can potentially have a huge positive impact.