Why global warming causes heatwaves, floods, and droughts
Global warming is the process by which greenhouse gases (GHGs) such as carbon dioxide (CO2) trap the sun’s heat in our atmosphere, instead of letting it reflect back into space. The key points to remember about global warming are that a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapour, and it is also more energetic. This is already leading to severe weather events, from flash floods to tornadoes. It also leads to changes in the atmosphere’s larger patterns of precipitation, so some places will get too much rain while other places get little or no rain.
Pakistan’s climate tragedy is unfair
With at least 1,400 dead, 1,000,000 homes destroyed and 50,000,000 people displaced, Pakistan’s flood catastrophe is undoubtedly caused by global warming. The cruel irony is that Pakistan is among the countries with the lowest carbon footprint per capita, at about 1 tonne per person per year. The global average is 5 tonnes per person. Compare this with Ireland’s 8 tonnes per person and the United States’s 18 tonnes per person. When you look at the major fossil fuel producers, the comparisons are even more alarming, with Qatar at an eye-watering 37 tonnes of CO2 per person per year! Pakistan is rightly asking why should their people be the victims of selfish polluters in rich countries. This brings the hot topic of Environmental Justice into sharper focus. And it’s not going away any time soon.
Sea levels are rising and there’s nothing we can do about it
A report in Nature has concluded that there’s no way of stopping major ice cap melting that will cause sea levels to rise by 27cm, about 10 inches. This rise will cause devastation in many countries, most of which are developing and have low GHG emissions. If we take immediate action to reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, we may be able to prevent the rise from going much beyond this level. But the 27cm is coming.
Drought in the United States
39% of the United States is currently in drought. This affects 130,000,000 people and almost 230,000,000 acres of crops! This image from the US Drought Monitor says it all, really.
Where are we going?
It’s becoming painfully clear that it’s all connected. We’ve already affected the climate, with catastrophic results. With polar regions at abnormal temperatures and permafrost melting accelerating, it’s likely that things are in a negative feedback loop. We could soon lose any chance to limit or roll back our impact on global warming.
But we’re not giving up. Our vision is to rebalance the effect of the sun on our planet, by transforming atmospheric carbon into housing and other sustainable products. That simple.
Header image – Photo by Jackson David: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-turning-around-on-green-fields-2868441/
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