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The climate on Earth is getting warmer, known as global warming. Changes in the climate happen naturally, however, human activities have interfered with this natural process. In other words, human activities lead to a warmer climate through a process explained below.

In 2013, the IPCC confirmed that global warming is “extremely likely” caused by humans. Today, it is considered a scientific fact. Humans have been the dominant reason for a warmer climate since the middle of the 18th Century. This is because activities, such as industries, release large amounts of greenhouse gases. These emissions lead to a warmer atmosphere through the greenhouse effect.

The debate on global warming

For a long time, people discussed if global warming was caused by humans or not. The question became very political. The debate was affected by political leaders with different interests and understandings of science. More so, large companies many times denied it due to their economic interests. For example, companies that wanted to continue extracting fossil fuels. Since this activity releases huge amounts of greenhouse gases. Therefore, it was good for profit if the human impact on the climate was denied or kept in debate. This slowed down and hindered progress to mitigate the changing climate. Today, the world has an agenda to work against global warming. As the effects make life harder or impossible for all life on the planet. For example, the Paris Agreement aims to keep global warming below 1.5 %.

What does global warming lead to?

It leads to a much warmer climate on planet Earth. A climate that most life in the world is not used to. Even just one degree difference makes it hard for some species to survive. The change is too rapid for them to adapt. Hence the climate has a great effect on the Earth’s biodiversity.

A warmer planet also leads to more extreme weather. Such as droughts, hurricanes and forest fires. Furthermore, this development is already contributing to an increase in climate refugees. This group of refugees are forced to leave their homes because of global warming and climate change. For example, it can be due to a natural disaster that has destroyed the homes of people. Which forces them to leave. It can also be related to a changing climate that affects farming. Many people are forced into refuge as they can no longer live off their lands. Overall, global warming comes with many catastrophic chain reactions.

Picture of a sign saying "time is up", refering to global warming.

More facts

It is not certain how much the temperature will change because of the warming climate. Partly as small changes trigger chain reactions that can make global warming happen faster. For example in the case of melting ice. When the ice disappears the oceans grow and can attract more heat through the albedo effect. More so, the melting ice releases the strong greenhouse gas methane. Which contributes even more to global warming. So, the melting ice affects other parts of nature and leads to faster and more unpredictable warming.

Working against global warming

Today, there are many agendas to reduce the number of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Such as the Paris Agreement. Particularly dealing with CO2, methane and nitrous oxide. Apart from lowering emissions, they can be captured through Carbon Capture & Storage technology (CCS). CCS is designed to capture greenhouse gas emissions and store them underground. Although, the technology is expensive and still under development.
Furthermore, greenhouse gases stay in the atmosphere for a very long time. Therefore, there is also a need for negative emissions. This means that even if we reach zero emissions by 2050, gases will still have to be taken out of the atmosphere. Creating negative emissions.

 


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