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Global warming: Causes, Effects and Mitigation

Updated: Aug 3, 2023


Glacier and ice berg melting at Earth's pole due to global warming
Melting Iceberg

Human evolution and the onset of Global warming

In the course of the evolution of humans on this planet, we have gathered pieces of information where the major share is from the planet Earth and a minor from outer space. Processing that information grows our skills for developing an advanced civilization on Earth. This journey of evolution of human intelligence almost took thousands of years from early Primates to modern Homosapien. The rapid or more precisely development of human civilization all started from the industrial revolution in the 18th century. For almost 300 years we are harnessing our planet in a very poor and selfish way which is now showing its effect in the form of global warming. The recent report by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) reiterates that humans are solely responsible for the global temperature rise of 1.1° Celsius above the pre-industrial era. This global warming led to several frequent hazardous weather events and every subtle increase in global average temperature can multifold the increase in frequency of hazardous weather events. The United Nations chief António Guterres in his recent news brief about the hottest month recorded on Earth urged that the era of global warming is ended and the global boiling is arrived at our door. UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell at the G20 session on Environment and Climate Sustainability in Chennai, India urged that G20 leaders must show leadership in achieving the Paris Agreement for climate change of keeping the rise in mean global temperature to well below 2 °C (3.6 °F) above pre-industrial levels, and preferably limit the increase to 1.5 °C (2.7 °F).


What is global warming and why global warming is happening?

Global warming is an anomalous average global temperature rise of the planet Earth caused by the surplus rise in the concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), ozone etc.) where carbon dioxide (CO2) has the highest proportion. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most significant heat-trapping gas, among all greenhouse gases. The chief contributor of CO2 is the burning of fossil fuels (such as coal, oil, and natural gas), transport industries using combustion engines and power plants producing electricity from fossil fuels. Natural events also contribute CO2 to the atmosphere e.g. from wildfires, and geological events like volcanic eruptions. This increase in global average temperature is the consequence of the increasing global atmospheric CO2 concentrations that reached 420.54 ppm (Atmospheric CO2 data from NOAA, Mauna Loa Observatory) during April 2023 which is 149 % of the pre-industrial level and continued to rise, increasing annually by 2.3 ± 0.4 ppm. The continuous rise in the concentration of atmospheric CO2 has led to the rise in Earth’s global average temperature to its highest value since we started monitoring it.


The graph shows the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, monthly average carbon dioxide measurements since 1980 in parts per million (ppm)
Global monthly mean carbon dioxide

Source: The graph shows the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, monthly average carbon dioxide measurements since 1980 in parts per million (ppm). The long-term trend of rising carbon dioxide levels is driven by human activities. In May 2023, carbon dioxide hit a 424 ppm record. NOAA Climate.gov image, based on Mauna Loa monthly mean data from NOAA Global Monitoring Lab.

What is the hottest temperature recorded on Earth?

Two types of temperatures can come into this category. The first category is about the hottest temperature recorded at various geographical locations on the Earth at a particular time. According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the hottest temperature ever recorded was in Furnace Creek, Death Valley, California at 56.7 °C on 10 July 1913. At present the WMO is verifying two temperature readings of 54.4°C (130°F), recorded at Death Valley, California, on 16 August 2020 and on 9 July 2021. If confirmed and scientifically verified, this would be the highest temperature on Earth since 1931 and the third hottest temperature ever recorded on the planet. When we talk about global warming we measure the global average temperature of the planet Earth. On the 3rd of July 2023 the average global temperature reached 17.01° Celsius (62.62° Fahrenheit), the highest ever recorded, (ref: U.S. National Centers for Environmental Prediction).


2m Temperature record, NOAA climate forecast system, Climatereanlyzer.org, Climate Change Institute, University of Maine
Hottest Temperature recorded

Source: NOAA climate forecast system, Climatereanlyzer.org, Climate Change Institute, University of Maine


What is Global boiling?

It is the term coined by the United Nations chief Antonio Guterres in a news brief regarding the hottest 3 week period in July 2023 recorded on Earth. The UN chief has mentioned that the era of Global warming is ended and the era of Global boiling has arrived. The anomalous temperature recorded in July is also corroborated by the intense heat waves recorded globally. At present several countries are facing a drastic rise in the frequency and intensity of heat waves e.g. southern United States, European countries, Japan, South Korea, Iraq etc. The rise in deadly heat waves is a direct impact of global warming and climate change. In his brief Antonio Guterres also mentioned that we must step up for “climate action and climate justice”, particularly those from the G20 leading industrial nations, responsible for 80 per cent of global emissions. Climate change is evident but there is a possibility that we can stop the worst and achieve net zero by 2050 remarkable and crucial steps need to be taken by governments, industries and people also.


What is climate change and how does global warming affect climate change?

Climate change is the long-term shift in the temperature and changes in the weather pattern (e.g. precipitation, wind patterns, heat waves, sea currents etc.) on both the local and regional as well as global scales. In recent studies, it has been confirmed that the global average temperature has risen by nearly 1 °C in the past century. The rise in global average temperature is the primary factor which is affecting the weather patterns on the planet Earth. It has been evaluated that the average global sea level by 15–25 cm (6–10 in) with a rate of 1–2 mm per year. The major cause of the sea level rise is the rise in the global average temperature due to global warming which is causing the melting of the ice sheets and glaciers at the Earth’s poles, e.g. Antarctica, Arctic and Greenland. As the global average temperature remain to rise on the same frequency as it is today a severe consequence in term of climate change and natural disasters is waiting for us in the future.


How to stop global warming?

To stop global warming and its consequence like climate change the very first step is to make this fight global instead of limiting it to only governments and industries, humans at their level should also contribute their role. We humans by reducing our carbon footprint (greenhouse gases emitted by our activities) can mark our role in the fight against global warming. The chief reason for global warming is the rise in concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and there are several ways in which we mitigate the emission of these greenhouse gases. The energy sector alone contributes more than 70% of the global greenhouse gases emission. There are numerous sectors in which electricity consumption is required e.g. transport, industry, residential, commercial etc. Switching these modes of energy from fossil-fuel-based power plants to renewable and other green modes of electricity generation, the liberation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere can be reduced. For example, the rise in the proportion of electric-vehicle can reduce the direct emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, although to charge these vehicles fossil-based electricity is still in use. So fuel-cell-based vehicles using hydrogen energy can be a better alternative in future for the reduction of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU) sector is responsible for almost 20% of the global greenhouse gas emissions.


Greenhouse gases emission by different sectors
Greenhouse gases emission percentage

Source: OurWorldinData.org, Emissions by sector


Carbon sequestration and storage can be a faster process in reducing global atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration. Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide and it can be both geologic and biologic. Biologic carbon sequestration is the natural ability to store carbon via plant-based ecosystems e.g. forests, peat swarms, and coastal wetlands. The geologic carbon sequestration also technically known as carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) encompasses several techniques including where carbon dioxide is permanently stored in underground geological formations e.g. porous sedimentary basins, caverns, and abandoned oil traps. Forests are the biggest carbon sinks on this planet and they sequestrate carbon by capturing carbon dioxide through photosynthesis and transforming it into biomass. Amazon basin has the world’s largest tropical forest cover of 5.37 m square km. It acts as one of the biggest natural carbon sink on this planet but to recent deforestation and fire events the Brazilian Amazon has now become a source of carbon rather than carbon dioxide sink. So deforestation not only reduces the mitigation of carbon dioxide but also transformed itself into a source of greenhouse gas. Afforestation and restoration of forests can not only help in mitigating the CO2 from the atmosphere but also restore the planet’s natural ecosystem. So in simple words planting trees can make a huge impact in fighting global warming. Globally startups are coming up with innovations and technologies to capture and store carbon. Israel-based RepAir uses chemical reactions for the direct capturing of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. UK-based Barton Blakely Technologies uses rocket technology to burn carbon dioxide and transform it into solid material which can be utilized in our daily usage. German startup Novocarbo makes Biochar by capturing carbon dioxide and this Biochar can be used as an alternative to plastic, concrete materials etc. The Greensapien team is also dedicated to developing tools and techniques for capturing greenhouse gases and building a sustainable future. In its very first mission (Mission 01) under biological carbon sequestration Greensapien has launched the project of growing a Miyawaki forest with a minimum of 10000 trees to offset 5000 Mt of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.



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