Climate change is a long-term change in the average weather patterns to define a specific local, regional and global climate of the Earth. Scientists have observed the changes in Earth’s climate since the early 20thcentury. The primary contributions to climate change are caused by by human activities, predominantly fossil fuel burning, which increases heat trapping greenhouse gas levels in Earth’s atmosphere and raises Earth’s average surface temperature. The anthropogenic inputs that causes temperatures to rise in the Earth’s atmosphere are commonly referred to as global warming.
Global warming is the long-term heating of Earth’s climate system, which has been observed since the pre-industrial period. In the United States, the burning of fossil fuels to make electricity is the largest source of heat-trapping pollution, producing around two billion tons of CO2 per year. Coal-burning power plants are by far the biggest pollution contributors. The country’s second-largest source of carbon pollution is the transportation sector, which generates about 1.7 billion tons of CO2 annually.
Since the pre-industrial era, human activities have been estimated to have increased Earth’s global average temperature by about 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) and 02 degrees Celsius (0.36 degrees Fahrenheit), per decade.
Scientists studying climate change found that the Earth’s rising temperatures are fueling longer and hotter heat waves, frequent droughts, heavier rainfalls, and stronger hurricanes. In 2016, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine announced that it is possible to confidently attribute these weather events directly to climate change.
The impacts of global warming are being felt across the globe. Some areas of the Earth experience extreme heat waves that has caused tens of thousands of deaths around the world in recent years. Furthermore, studies have shown that Antarctica has been losing about 134 billion metric tons of ice per year since 2002. As more ice melts, the sea level continue to rise. At this current pace, if humans continue to speed up the usage of burning fossil fuel, some experts say that the sea level will continue to rise several meters over the next 50 to 150 years. And throughout the years, scientists learn more about the consequences of global warming. Many agree that environmental, economic, and health consequences are likely to occur if current trend of fossil fuel burning and carbon pollution from vehicles continues.
In recent years, studies have shown that China is taking the lead in global-warming pollution, producing about 28 percent of all global CO2 emissions. The United States comes in second, contributing about 16 percent of all global CO2 emissions, followed by the European Union and India, (third and fourth place), who contributes the same percentage as the U.S.
The only known way to curb climate change requires very deep cuts in CO2 emissions, as well as the use of alternatives to fossil fuels worldwide. Scientists have taken initiative by developing new ways to modernize power plants, generate cleaner electricity, and burn less gasoline when operating vehicles. The challenge is to ensure that these solutions are put to good use and widely accepted.
Fortunately, in December of 2016, the historic Paris agreement promoted taking actions towards combating climate change and investing towards a low carbon, resilient and sustainable future. This was agreed upon by 195 countries at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris, the COP (Conference of the Parties). The universal agreement’s main aim is to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius, and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen the ability to deal with the impacts of climate change.
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