Greenhouse Gases

Your carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases – including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, fluorinated gases and others – produced as you live your life. The accumulation of these gases in the Earth’s atmosphere are trapping heat like a greenhouse, causing global warming and climate change. The consequences of global warming include loss of the polar ice caps, dirtier air, rising sea levels, more acidic oceans, higher extinction rates for wildlife, more severe weather events and higher human death rates.

You can monitor the Earth’s Vital Signs by visiting https://climate.nasa.gov/

The Evidence:

Increasing Carbon Dioxide Levels

Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide – the most dangerous and prevalent greenhouse gas – are at the highest level ever recorded.

National Geographic (May 2019)

Rainforest Depletion

A whopping 30% of the planet’s CO2 emissions are being stored in our rainforests. In terms of climate change, cutting trees both adds carbon dioxide to the air and removes the ability to absorb existing carbon dioxide. If tropical deforestation were a country, it would rank third in carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions, behind China and the U.S.

The World Resources Institute (Oct 2018)

Global Temperature Rise

Measurements show that the average temperature at the Earth’s surface has risen by about 1°C since the pre-industrial period. 17 of the 18 warmest years on record have occurred in the 21st century and each of the last 3 decades have been hotter than the previous one.

The UK Government (July 2019)

Warming Oceans

The oceans have absorbed more than 93% of the increased heat from greenhouse emissions, with the top 700 meters (about 2,300 feet) of ocean showing warming of more than 0.22 degrees Centigrade since 1969.

US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (Aug 2018)

Shrinking Ice Sheets

Greenland’s massive ice sheet may have melted by a record amount this year, scientists have warned.  During this year alone, it lost enough ice to raise the average global sea level by more than a millimetre.

Researchers say they’re ‘astounded’ by the acceleration in melting and fear for the future of cities on coasts around the world.  One glacier in southern Greenland has thinned by as much as 100 metres since I last filmed on it back in 2004.

BBC News (September 2019)

Glacier Retreat

Glaciers are retreating almost everywhere around the world – including in the Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, Alaska and Africa.

National Snow & Ice Data Center (June 2019)

Decreased Snow Cover

Satellite observations reveal that the amount of spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has decreased over the past five decades and that the snow is melting earlier.

National Snow & Ice Data Center (September 2018)

Melting Permafrost

The release of methane and carbon dioxide from thawing permafrost will accelerate global warming. Greenhouse gases are released when organic matter that had been frozen below the soil for centuries thaws and rots. Researchers now suspect that for evey one degree Celsius rise in the Earth’s average temperature, permafrost may release the equivalent of 4 to 6 years’ worth of coal, oil and natural gas emission.

National Geographic (September 2019)

Sea Level Rise

Global sea level rose about 8 inches in the last century. The rate in the last two decades, however, is nearly double that of the last century and is accelerating slightly every year.

NASA (February 2018)

Extreme Weather Events

Climate change is causing many extreme weather events to become more intense and frequent, such as heatwaves, droughts, and floods.

The Met Office

Ocean Acidification

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by about 28% percent. This increase is the result of humans emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and hence more being absorbed into the oceans.

National Geographic (August 2019)

Global Fossil Fuel Consumption

The burning of fossil fuels produced an historic high of around 33.3 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide in 2018.

International Energy Agency (2018 report)