Newly published research of the Earth’s atmosphere in 2018 has suggested that the year saw a record breaking amount of climate change causing greenhouse gases in the air despite efforts to reduce the burning of fossil fuels. A report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) suggests the increase in Carbon Dioxide (CO2) was just above the average rise recorded over the last ten years.
The report also states that the quantities of other warming gases such as methane and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere have also rocketed upwards. The report measures the concentration of gas in the atmosphere – the amount of gas left after natural reactions with oceans, forests, and other parts of the natural world – rather than raw emissions. Roughly a quarter of all carbon dioxide is absorbed by the seas, a quarter by the land, and a quarter by trees.
Fight against climate change going backwards
Scientists have previously argued that global greenhouse gas emissions to have a chance at limiting warming to 1.5C above the industrial baseline. This latest report comes on the back of a report in December of last year which stated that 2018’s total gas emissions were the highest on record. All of this suggests that efforts to adopt renewable energy sources in many countries have not been enough to tackle the continued release of huge amounts of damaging materials into the atmosphere.
The WMO’s secretary-general, Petteri Taalas, said upon the release of the report: “There is no sign of a slowdown, let alone a decline, despite all the commitments under the Paris agreement on climate change. We need to increase the level of ambition for the sake of the future welfare of mankind. It is worth recalling that the last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of carbon dioxide was 3-5m years ago. Back then, the temperature was 2-3C warmer and sea level was 10-20 metres higher than now.”
Campaigning goes on
Environmental issues have reached new heights of public awareness in recent years thanks to high profile movements and campaigns. Sixteen year old Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg has become a global icon of the green movement for her pioneering role in the creation of school strikes movement which has seen millions of students avoiding school on Fridays and joining massive youth led protests about the state of the planet.
Despite the incontrovertible scientific proof of climate change and the immense damage that it will cause, there remains some scepticism and much opposition to big action. Thunberg herself has become a controversial figure and has come in from criticism, and abuse, among well known figures like Piers Morgan with a record of scepticism on environmental issues. And despite protests and discussion, action is still being taken that will cause further greenhouse gas emissions, such as the expansion of Britain’s coal industry.
What can we do to slow down climate change?
For some suggestions see How to save the oceans at home and whilst travelling.