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CLIMATE CHANGE AT A GLANCE

Updated: Apr 26, 2023

Earth Day 2023 was on April 22. The earth faces tough challenges, especially global warming and climate change.


1.Definitions

Global warming: increase in Earth's average surface temperature due to the release of greenhouse gases.

Climate change: long-term changes in the climate system, including changes in weather patterns as a result of global warning


2. History

  • 1824: Joseph Fourier describes the greenhouse effect, the process by which gases like methane and carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere trap and absorb heat, leading to warming of the planet's surface.



Greenhouse effect. vector illustration diagram. Environment pollution problem and fighting climate change. Informational infographic for education and rising awareness
Greenhouse effect (Image:Shutterstock)

  • 1896: Svante Arrhenius calculates the effects of CO2 on global temperatures

  • 1938: Guy Stewart Callendar links CO2 emissions to rising temperatures

  • 1958: Charles David Keeling begins measuring CO2 concentrations

  • 1979: World Climate Conference acknowledges human influence on climate

3. The Present State of Climate Change

A. Impact of human activities on climate change

  • Fossil fuel combustion: major source of greenhouse gas emissions


Power plant emitin smoke and steam
Power plant emitting smoke and water vapor (Image:Shutterstock)

  • Deforestation: loss of carbon sinks and biodiversity


Rainforest destruction. Gold mining place in Guyana, South America. Amazon and Essequibo basin deforestation.
Amazon and Essequibo basin deforestation (Image:Shutterstock)

  • Agriculture and livestock: methane emissions and land-use changes


Production of methane gas by livestock
Production of methane gas by livestock (Image:Let’s Talk Science)


B. Observed consequences

  • Global temperature increase: average of 1.2°C since preindustrial times

  • Extreme weather events: heatwaves, droughts, storms, and floods

  • Melting ice caps and glaciers: sea level rise and disruption to ecosystems

C. Current international efforts

  • 2015: Paris Agreement – global commitment to limit temperature rise

  • 2021: COP26 – renewed focus on climate finance and net-zero targets

  • Ongoing initiatives: renewable energy, reforestation, carbon capture

4. The Path Forward

  • Decarbonizing energy production: solar, wind, nuclear, and hydro

  • Electrifying transportation: electric vehicles and public transit

  • Enhancing energy efficiency: green buildings and smart grids


5. Conclusion:

  • The history of climate change research informs current understanding

  • Urgent need for collective global action to mitigate impacts

  • Continued innovation and collaboration necessary for a sustainable future

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