In March, 2015, concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached a global average exceeding 400 parts per million (ppm). it has been 23 million years since CO2 concentrations that high have occurred on earth, according to a February,2015, article in Scientific American.
Every year, 40 billion tons of carbon emissions are pumped into our atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels. 98% of the world’s scientists agree that coal, oil, and gas emissions underlie the rapid buildup of CO2 in the air, and the rapid advancement of global warming. Reaching 400 ppm worldwide should act as a global warning of what may lie ahead for mankind if we do not quickly make the switch from a fossil fuel-powered world to wind, solar, and other renewable power sources.
Here are some of the changes we can expect if we don’t change our ways:
Progressively hotter world. Our planet will continue to get hotter and hotter. According to NOAA, over the last 40 years land temperatures globally have increased at the rate of 0.5°F (0.28°C) per decade. Temperature increases have doubled in the last 50 years over the rate of increase of the prior 50 years. Global warming is speeding up.
Accelerating Sea Level Rise. According to National Geographic, sea level rise is occurring twice as fast as it did before 1990. The new speeded up rate of increase is 1.4″ (35mm) every 10 years, a 1 ft. (305mm) rise by the end of the century. That’s enough to flood out low lying coastal cities such as Miami and make lower Manhattan and other east coast cities vulnerable to major flooding from storm surges. Venice, Italy, and many atolls could become uninhabitable.
Melting ice sheets. Glaciers and the Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets are melting at a record pace. Global warming is also warming the ocean. The warmer water gets, the more it expands. Both ice melt water and warm water expansion are contributing to sea level rise.
Acid oceans. The world’s oceans are becoming more acidic as they absorb more and more CO2 from the atmosphere. The higher acid content dissolves the calcium carbonate in shellfish shells, threatening our food supply. Coral reefs that harbor great populations of food fish are dying as the acid in the ocean water attacks the carbonate in the coral.
Heat waves and drought. Scientists project more and longer heat waves and droughts not only in arid regions but in grain-growing areas such as the American Midwest and vast areas of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.
Extreme weather events. Meteorologists predict bigger hurricanes and storm surges, stronger tornadoes, heavier rainfall, and more massive flooding, as well as prolonged heat waves and droughts. Everything we have now on steroids. More and larger wildfires and shrinking ground water supplies are also on the menu.
Can we reverse this gloomy trend? Every time a manufacturing plant installs rooftop panels and converts from fossil fuel power to solar power, we take a step forward. Every time a new wind farm replaces a coal-fired power plant, we take a step forward. We hope to see more and more steps forward as the world gradually weans itself off fossil fuels and converts to green power. When the CO2 ppm drops below 400 we’ll know we’re headed in the right direction.