Climate change is a significant threat that demands immediate action to prevent further overheating of the Earth. Climate models predict that as more greenhouse gases enter the atmosphere, the Earth’s surface temperature will continue to rise. Scientists have used historic temperature records to demonstrate that the average global temperature has increased over the last 150 years, particularly over the past 50 years.
Radiation is one of the key elements of climate change. Earth’s surface absorbs 67% of the sun’s “short wave” radiation every day, which heats the Earth’s surface and makes it a hospitable place to live. The Earth emits 33% of its heat back out as “long wave” infra-red radiation. Clouds and gases in the troposphere can capture and resist this heat, leading to the natural greenhouse effect. However, man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere create a non-natural greenhouse effect by trapping the heat being released from Earth as surface radiation/outgoing longwave radiation.
Aerosols and gases also play a role in climate change. Aerosols are tiny particles that break up and fall back to Earth after only a few days, reflecting incoming solar radiation. However, mining, fracking, gas production, and deforestation are responsible for the increase in aerosols, which is contributing to the worsening of the greenhouse effect. Oxygen and nitrogen, the two main gases in Earth’s atmosphere, have almost no effect on the greenhouse effect since they don’t absorb solar energy reflected as longwave radiation from the Earth. Water vapor and carbon dioxide are the natural greenhouse gases that are critical to life on Earth, and without them, the average surface temperature would be an extremely cold -18°C. However, the sudden influx of additional human-caused CO2 and other greenhouse gases is trapping more heat and causing rapid warming.
The impact of human-caused greenhouse gases on the Earth’s climate cannot be overstated. Burning fossil fuels for energy, along with the effects of major transportation and deforestation, has led to a rapid increase in global temperatures. The warming of the Earth’s surface is a result of both natural and human factors, but the increase in greenhouse gases has accelerated this process.
It is essential to recognize that the non-natural greenhouse effect is responsible for the acceleration of climate change. Human-made emissions are like a blanket over the Earth’s surface, trapping the heat being released from the Earth as surface radiation. This is particularly problematic over the next several decades, as more heat is being trapped in the atmosphere than at any point in the Earth’s history. It is critical that we take immediate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stop further overheating of the Earth’s surface.
In the next blog post, we will delve deeper into feedbacks, the direction of Earth’s heat, rising sea levels, and melting ice. These are critical components of climate change that must be understood if we are to take effective action to prevent further harm to the planet.
As such, it is imperative that we all do our part to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change. Whether through personal choices or collective action, we can all make a difference in protecting the Earth’s climate and ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come.