There is clear scientific evidence that the Earth’s climate is warming. Since the 1950s, our climate has experienced many unprecedented changes including rising temperatures, shifting rainfall patterns, and greatly increased weather extremes.
Climate change is primarily occurring due to the accumulation of greenhouse gases (GHGs), which trap heat in the atmosphere and cause average temperatures to rise. This warming effect depends on the total amount of GHGs accumulated in the atmosphere, the time that they remain in the atmosphere, and the capacity of each type of greenhouse gas (e.g CO2 vs. methane) to trap heat.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has concluded that limiting the average global temperature increase to likely less than 2°C relative to pre-industrial levels will require that global GHG emissions be reduced by 40% to 70% below 2010 levels by mid-century and that emissions be decreased to near zero in the long term. If, however, global annual GHG emissions continue to rise at their current rate throughout the 21st century, the average global temperature is projected to rise by 5.6oC by 2100.
If this happens, we will experience even more extreme weather conditions. We will also experience significant losses of plant species, which will no longer be able to survive under the new climate regime. This, in turn, will affect the survival of animal species that depend on those plants as sources of food and/or shelter. There will be many other impacts as well that will directly affect humans and the human economy. For example, under the status quo scenario, it is predicted that most of the ski hills in British Columbia will close due to the lack of adequate snowfall.
What are your thoughts on the underlying causes of climate change? You can respond in the comment section below.