This year's annual report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is out. The WMO monitors the level of atmospheric pollution. The report card for 2012 states that the concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere – commonly known as the greenhouse gases, all broke fresh records in 2012.
In fact the concentration of CO2 which is primarily responsible for the warming effect in our climate, grew more rapidly last year than its average increase over the last decade - almost by one-third since 1990.
Climate Change – Global warming
The amount of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere is seen as the biggest driver of climate change in the world. The rate of increase of these gases has been alarming and more so in recent times. More than 50 percent of CO2 emissions is primarily the result of human activity and remains in the atmosphere. The rest is absorbed by plants, trees, land and the oceans.
Since the start of the industrial revolution in 1750, carbon-di-oxide concentrations have increased steadily in the atmosphere. The level today is nearly 141% of the levels before the industrial revolution. Several nations had agreed to a goal of keeping the earth's temperature from rising to within 2 degrees Celsius to prevent global warming. That goal seems to be very difficult to defend.
The story is similar with other greenhouse gases too. Methane whose initial concentrations appeared to be leveling off in 2007, has been accelerating since. Besides human activity, the melting of arctic ice and the permafrost is also responsible for increasing methane emissions in the atmosphere. What worries climate scientists is that besides the rate of increase in emissions, gases can continue to concentrate in the atmosphere for a lot longer and exert a climate influence for hundreds, if not thousands of years.
Warsaw Climate Summit
The 19th climate summit will take place this year in Warsaw, Poland. World leaders will be debating how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for a better future for our fragile planet.
Finally, it is up to all of us to do what is best to preserve the resources we have. Though the problem is big and appears to be overwhelming, all actions have to start small and we each have a lot we could do to make a difference.
What do you think you could do to help reduce global warming? Share your thoughts with us.