Evidence for Human Caused Climate Change – Top 5 Empirical Facts
Climate change is not humanity’s invention. It is a process or a phenomenon that occurred many times throughout history. Just in the last 650,000 years, there have been at least seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat. The abrupt end of the last ice age was about 7,000 years ago.
These climate changes have always been associated with small (but impactful) changes in our planet’s orbit and the amount of heat and sunlight Earth receives from the sun. However, almost the entire world is concerned with the human-caused climate change. The undeniable truth is that this time we are greatly responsible for the current state of facts.
But do we have evidence for that? The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN officials, and most policymakers of our modern times say we are. In fact, they say, “scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal.”
Moreover, it seems that more than 90% of the actual changing trend of the climate change is the result of human activity. This activity intensified since the mid-20th century and is currently proceeding at an unprecedented rate over decades to millennia.
Nevertheless, where is the proof? Is science backing us up in these claims? Let us see today some of the evidence for human-caused climate change by summarizing five empirical facts.
1. The Global Temperature Rise
According to the reports released by NASA and other agencies throughout the globe, our planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2.0 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century. This change is linked to the increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere.
As we reported last year, the American Meteorological Society released a report containing the results of 27 peer-reviewed studies emphasizing shared results: greenhouse gas emissions that come from human activities will push extreme weather beyond the normal bounds of natural variability, causing more than just extreme weather phenomena.
The report focused on the massive heat wave that hit the world back in 2016. That had a direct connection with global warming, human activity, and climate change models.
According to the most recent warming and climate change models, it seems that we may have been too optimistic about the estimates on the Paris Agreement. Scientists infer that if we continue to emit the same amount of carbon dioxide into the air, we have 93% chance that global warming will surpass 4 degrees Celsius by the end of 2100. Such a rise in temperature would be disastrous.
2. Global Ocean Temperatures Rise
We have covered plenty the problem of the rising temperatures of the global ocean. This leads to Antarctica melting and glaciers moving and many other related problems affecting ecosystems. Researchers found that the oceans absorb much of the heat in the atmosphere.
In fact, new data shows that the top 700 meters (about 2,300 feet) of ocean shows warming of 0.302 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969. For a while, we did not know how fast the oceans heat up, but recent studies showed that the warming rate is around 13 percent faster, raising even more red flags about climate change.
Because the sea temperatures are on the rise, there are severe consequences scientists have noticed. They have done this while using satellite and GPS data or researching at the scene of the disaster. We are talking about:
- The rising temperatures in the Arctic that affect marine life.
- Melting ice drifting, affecting polar bears.
- Antarctica’s ice sheets and grounding line are retreating and moving at significant speeds.
- Antarctica’s King Penguins are at risk of extinction.
These are just a few studies and pieces of science we covered, but there are more.
Speaking of heat and melting, the logical consequence is the global sea rising. Global sea level rose about 8 inches in the last century. The rate in the last two decades, however, is nearly double that of the last century.
Moreover, new satellite data shows that the sea level has been rising at a rate of ∼3 ± 0.4 mm/y since 1993. The forecast is not optimistic either. If sea level continues to change at this rate and acceleration, the overall sea level will rise by approximately 2 feet (∼65 cm) by the end of the century compared to today.
Rising global ocean’s temperature may lead to massive negative consequences, and one of them is the following…
3. Ocean Acidification
According to the National Research Council, NASA and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by about 30% since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
The more carbon dioxide we emit into the atmosphere, the more acidic oceans become. This happens because the upper layer of the oceans absorbs a significant amount of CO2 from the air. In fact, recent studies show that the ocean has absorbed some 525 billion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere, presently around 22 million tons per day.
As we reported before, the oceans lose oxygen as they absorb the carbon dioxide way faster than they can handle, thus changing its chemistry and becoming a toxic environment for coral reefs, marine wildlife, and coastal ecosystems.
4. Glacier Mass Loss
The higher the temperatures get, the faster everything is melting. We do not talk only about Antarctica and its ice sheets. We are talking about glaciers all over the world. In a report we presented not so long ago, we said that specialists from the Institute of Geography at the University of Bremen and the Institute of Atmospheric and Cryospheric Sciences at the University of Innsbruck have been calculating the results of successfully complying with the Paris Agreement.
They determined that it would have no significant slowing effect of glacier mass loss over the next century. In other words, if we would stop emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, we would still lose massive glaciers in the Himalaya and the Rockies.
According to a study published by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Portland State University, the glaciers in the Glacier National Park in Montana, USA, have already suffered a significant loss. This is because worldwide temperatures have increased over the last fifty years. Satellite data shows the park’s major glaciers have shrunk by an average of 39% since 1966. They will continue to recede.
According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center and the World Glacier Monitoring Service, the glaciers are retreating almost everywhere around the world, including in the Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, Alaska, and Africa.
5. Nature and Biodiversity Decline
The logical consequence of these chain reactions in the air and the seas lead to severe damages to ecosystems and life in general. The most recent report coming from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) shows that that biodiversity continues to decline in every region of the world, significantly reducing nature’s capacity to contribute to people’s well-being.
This alarming trend endangers economies, livelihoods, food security and the quality of life of people everywhere. One of the main causes leading to this state of fact is climate change. It devastates ecosystems and natural habitats all over the world.
The declines are also related to air and water pollution and overexploitation and unsustainable use of natural resources. Many flora and fauna species are facing severe risks of crash or extinction. In the lack of fauna and flora, the global warming’s extreme weather phenomena will eventually devastate the planet. It will also change human life, as we know it.
These were just a few drops in an ocean as climate change science is concerned. There are many things you can do if you want to learn more, study, and become aware of the evidence for human-caused climate change. Our advice is to study, learn, and keep yourself updated with the science news.
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