Global Warming Is Real
In the late 2019, Sydney, Australia was blanketed by thick smoke caused by severe bushfires across the continent. The haze was so thick and toxic that the health authorities called for public health alert. Bushfires in Australia occur regularly and have been important part of the Australian continent’s nature. However, the bushfires in 2019 – 2020 were absolutely horrifying, harming hundreds of people and destroying thousands of buildings.
Everyone knows that there is a global warming issue, but until we feel it we don’t really think it is real. The bushfire made it real. At least for myself, who smelled the Earth burning and saw wide-spread burnt-down bush. The world is getting hotter.
The World Was Warmer by 1.02 ℃ in 2020 Than in 1951 – 1980
The chart above shows the changes in global surface temperature relative to 1951 – 1980 average temperatures. The data source is NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. For instance, the annual mean temperature in 1981 was higher by 0.32 ℃ than the average global temperature of 1951 – 1980.
Although there are ups and downs, the global temperatures are constantly going up. Especially, the recent decade experienced significant rise. The temperatures in two of the last ten years, 2016 and 2020, were higher by more than 1 ℃.
The World Is Getting Hotter, But What Is the Big Deal?
For most of us, warming of 1 ℃ might sound too small to care, unless you are a geologist or scientist. So, what exactly does this mean?
Alan Buis, a science writer at NASA, explains the issue in his article “A Degree of Concern: Why Global Temperatures Matter.” He summarizes a report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in easy-to-understand languages. Alan selected the following impacts of additional global warming of 0.5 – 1 ℃:
- Warmest temperature extremes
- Water availability
- Extreme precipitation
- Impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems
- Forest impacts
- Ocean impacts
- Marine life
- Coral reef impacts
- Impacts on humans
- Food shortages
- Economic impacts
Wow, this sounds full-on, doesn’t it? In today’s world, the impacts are already obvious. Bushfires in Australia or other countries seem to have become more severe and frequent in recent years. We have started hearing more news of floods due to unprecedented rainfalls across the world. Heatwaves have become almost normal. So, do we have a way out?
You may like this related article ‘Exploring climate change impacts using catastrophe models‘ which explains this issue further and how catastrophe models can help quantify the risk presented by the climate change.