There is no doubt that mankind has made significant progress in terms of socio-economic success and modern technology, but along with these advancements are the degradation of our atmosphere and environment. Several studies have shown the rapid warming of our home planet, in fact, according to an online article by NASA, from late 19th century, the surface temperature of earth (average) has increased by approximately 0.9 degrees Celsius. The warmest year ever known was also not long ago. From January of 2016 up to September of the same year, the warmest temperatures for those months were recorded apart from June.
Charles Keeling, an American scientist, conducted a study wherein he recorded the amount of carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping greenhouse gas, to study plant conditions. According to his data, the total amount of carbon dioxide increased yearly; the earth is getting warmer and warmer due to the abundance of these gases in the air. (See figure 1.)
Global warming is also reflected in the rising sea-levels of the planet.
Sea-levels go up for about 3.6 millimeters per year as of late due to the melting of ice and glaciers, (See fig. 2 & 3) which is more than twice as fast compared to the previous decades. Levels could rise more than a meter by 2100 “if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase strongly,” (Quinones, 2019).
The earth’s climate is always changing, but the changes we are experiencing today were supposed to occur farther into the future. Global warming is a naturally occurring phenomena due to volcanoes and sunspots, but humans are its greatest factor.
(See fig. 4 & 5). In fact, during the recent US 4th National Climate Assessment found that between the years 1951-2010, 93-123% of the recorded warming . (Hausfather, 2017) Humans contribute the most greenhouse gas in the atmosphere by daily activities.
As earth gets warmer, its consequences are evident, as shown in fig. 2 and 3, melting of ice allows for the rise of sea-levels, and if all of them were to melt, the world would be submerged in water, destroying habitats. Animals also suffer. Some move to cooler areas of the earth, while others experience a huge decline in numbers. For one, the habitat loss of the Ad?lie penguin in Antarctica allowed for its population to flunk up to 90%. This crisis is universal: it deals great damage to all, which means immediate action is needed.
As we speak, the effects of warming ceases to stop, while several reports have said that we are too late to have earth the way it was before, this doesn’t mean that the world will end. We can still do something to slow down its effects and retain the earth in livable levels. Although behind schedule, there is progress. Since people are more aware, there have been more agreements and protocols where countries are involved, meaning action in large numbers can be done, and this was proven by the Montreal Protocol. The protocol was established to reduce CFCs or chemicals that damage the atmosphere. Recently, the UN has reported that the ozone layer is healing, which means the success of the protocol, and thus, hope for us. (See fig.6) Coming together allows possibility for change. Another instance, last week, a coastal clean-up in Manila Bay was held, and got 20,000 volunteers. The bay, although not completely healed, is starting to look like what was once before. We must remember that local moves can also yield global impact.