Current Climate Warming Trend, Expected Impacts & What Can Be Done?
Given below is an outline about the current climate warming trend we are on, some reasons why this is occurring and the expected impacts of this trend:
1) Given below is a graph showing atmospheric CO2 levels over the last 800,000 years and how it has risen recently to unprecedented levels compared to this earlier record. This graph is from an article published by Climate.gov entitled “How do we know the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is caused by humans?” on November 5, 2020.
The article indicated this is the source of the graph: NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).
2a) Given below is a graph showing that rising CO2 levels have been correlating closely with rising global temperatures since 1880. This graph is entitled “Global Temperatures and CO2 Concentrations (2020)“, which was published on Feb 19th, 2020 by ClimateCentral.
2b) Two graphs from the Global Temperature Report for 2023 by Berkley Earth:
3) Given below is a graph of the Monthly Average CO2 level at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii. It illustrates a fairly steady rise in CO2 levels and that the Covid crisis seemed to have had a very limited effect on reducing the rate of increase in CO2 levels over the past year.
Note: The red lines and symbols represent the monthly mean values. The black lines and symbols represent the same, after correction for the average seasonal cycle.
For some more related information, see: https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/carbon-dioxide/
4) Given below is a modelling graph from the IPCC AR1 report published in 1990:
Note: The climate change scenario RCP 8.5 line in the below graph appears to be the similar to the “business-as-usual” line in the modeling graph from the IPCC AR1 report published in 1990 that is shown above.
This graphic has been copied from this wiki page: Representative Concentration Pathway.
6) According to an article in Science Daily published on August 4, 2020, the ‘Worst-case’ CO2 emissions scenario is best for assessing climate risk and impacts to 2050. This article indicates that this “worst-case” scenario refers to the RCP 8.5 pathway, is tracking within 1% of actual emissions and is based on this paper: RCP8.5 tracks cumulative CO2 emissions. This same paper indicates that end-of-century warming outcomes in RCP8.5 range from 3.3 °C to 5.4 °C (5th to 95th percentile) with a median of 4.5 °C. The outcome estimates are relative to pre-industrial temperatures.
From my observations of the people I know in business and what I am reading, most of the world appears to be on “business as usual” mode and will likely continue producing emissions on the same growth pathway unless something is done to convince a majority of the world to do otherwise.
There appears to be a small percentage of the world that is trying to do something about this problem but most are not. As a result, even the growth of renewable energy is significant; the total global carbon emissions will likely continue to grow. For example, the world is making considerable progress on developing and implementing new clean technologies but greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere continue to rise due to many factors including:
- Large scale implementation of new technologies requiring large amounts of power such as data centers and blockchain systems (such as bitcoin).
- Large scale deforestation in many areas of the world including the amazon (Amazon is on the brink of turning into a carbon source, study warns 2021).
- Increased forest fires in many areas like the arctic.
- Increased methane emissions from areas that are no longer frozen.
- Trawling for seafood releases massive amounts of methane emissions.
- Rapid population growth and increased energy usage by people in developing countries.
- Continued large scale manufacturing of products that generate substantial emissions when being produced such as cement and steel.
- Constructing of many new buildings that have a high carbon emissions rate when in use.
- Major infrastructure initiatives such as China’s belt & road initiative with reported to include 300 coal power plants.
Another indicator that most of the world is in “business-as-usual” mode is that oil consumption is predicted to rise to 99 million barrels a day by the end of 2021. This indicates that, even though renewable energy is growing quickly, total energy demand is growing even faster.
In addition, the financial markets are still mainly incentivized to finance “business-as-usual” activities, which is encouraging most companies to act in “business-as-usual” mode. This could be the main reason why we are seeing the observed rise in atmospheric CO2 levels shown in the above graphs. Fortunately, there is a large coalition that is working on a large new initiative to increase funding for climate action by many trillions of dollars. To view some information about this new initiative, see: Climate: Security, Solutions and Finance (CSSF).
To provide you with some idea of what the world would look like if the average global temperature rose by 4.3 deg. C, see this short 2 min video entitled “Climate Change: What Happens If The World Warms Up By 4°C?”:
To view short videos of other temperature rise scenarios, see:
Here are some suggestions on what individuals can do:
7) Shown here is a graph from the BBC article: Climate change: Where we are in seven charts and what you can do to help, 14 Jan. 2020
8) Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Canada prepared by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development for the Parliament of Canada:
9) Shown below is a graph illustrating annual global fossil CO2 emissions by sector published by the Global Carbon Project:
10) Shown below is a graph illustrating annual global fossil CO2 emissions by selected countries published by the Global Carbon Project:
11) Like the spread of the Covid-19 virus, global CO2 levels are not affected by politicians denying reality. The only way we can make real change is by taking action on a very large scale. Therefore, what I expect is needed is to implement very large scale mobilization like what Seth Klein is advocating in his book entitled “A Good War – Mobilizing Canada for the Climate Emergency”. In order to get governments to commit to this level of action, I feel we need to help “bridge the gap between believers and doubters” on the need for large scale action on climate change. By involving top military and intelligence experts who speak about the impacts of climate change on human security, we can engage a wide range of people, especially conservative voters and leaders, about this need. To help encourage this process, our team at the Climate Solutions Advancement Network (ClimateSAN) is hosting a conference on May 18th and 19th, 2021 in conjunction with the Nato Association of Canada and the Modern War Institute (MWI) at West Point entitled: