The amount of CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere has grown to alarming levels in 2016. According to a UN World Meteorological Organization’s ( WMO ) report, annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, this increase of carbon dioxide has been to such a level that is not seen in 800,000 years and potentially fueling a 20 meter rise in sea levels and adding 3 degrees Celcius to the weather.There are predominantly two causes to such an increase in CO2 levels:
1. Anthropogenic :
Human-induced activities are causing CO2 levels to expand. We must also know that carbon dioxide along with other greenhouse gases contribute to maintaining the earth’s temperature by trapping solar insolation in the atmosphere without removing it. In effect, CO2 remains in atmosphere for thousands of years and more and more emissions and exhaust gasses containing CO2 are contributing further to increases of CO2 levels on the planet.
It is a phenomenon which causes the movement of warm air currents from the Australian to the Peruvian coast thus bringing temperature changes and putting an end to the fishing season at the Pacific coast of South America. Not to mention the changes in rainfall patterns.
A combination of human activities and a strong El-Nino event has pushed average concentration of CO2 to 403.3 parts per million.
A NASA study found that 2015-16 El Nino caused the largest annual increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration in 2000 years. According to the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (O-CO2) of NASA: “the total amount of Carbon released to Atmosphere from all land areas increased by 3 giga-tons in 2015 due to El-Nino”.
However, this should not downplay the human role in increasing CO2 levels on Earth, ranging from burning of fossil fuels to production of cement which escalate the levels of CO2.
WMO report comes amid growing concerns that nature’s ability to deal with CO2 is weakening. Here, people are playing our roles in doing whatever it takes to make this planet much more inhospitable to our future generations. Moreover, international efforts to act have also become weaker by US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Deal.
We need a proper approach to deal with the catastrophic environmental challenges ahead of us. Every individual must act in his/her capacity along with some new technological innovations like Carbon Capture technology to stop the increase in levels of CO2.
We, the Humans must help ourselves to help ourselves !!
About the Author
Niranjan Dev Bharadwaj is a student, Environmental Chemist, Blogger and Author of the book “Environmental Ethics and India’s Perspective on Environment” (which is due for publication by National Book Trust of India, Ministry of HRD, Government of India).
He has keen interests in teaching and researching on issues related to environment and development for sustainability, making people aware for protection of Environment and work towards making Earth a better place to live for all. He is also an online volunteer for the United Nations. Niranjan can be contacted by email: email@example.com as well as on Twitter.
Main image source: GreenPeace