Think of climate change as a cancer. Your doctor told you that he spotted what appears to be likely a melanoma skin cancer, but he is not 100% sure. Do you wait till the signs become more apparent? The cancer might spread in your body, by that diminishing the chance for survival, or do you ask the doctor to just remove the suspicious skin parts?
The IPCC body who assembles every few years the climate sciences, and the majority of over 97% of all scientists who study climate told us that CO2 has increased to such levels, not seen for hundreds of thousands, or even millions of years, and that the mean temperature of the Earth has increased.
Further has it been found that the Antarctic ice sheets started to slip into the ocean, and some of the ice will certainly melt and increase sea level, considered irreversible to some extent. Until 2100 best estimates -which are conservative- point to a 1 meter of additional sea level rise, and often it is hard to increase dams to even this figure.
But with irreversible sea level rise now lurking, we can expect additional sea level rise in the coming centuries – that means more than 1 meter of sea level rise. Also, it has been found by studying past sea level rises, that it often happened within a few decades. Also factor that current models do not account for nonlinear sea level rise. Also sea level rise is not uniform, thus 1 meter could mean 1.5 meter at your coast.
Dr. Ralph Keeling estimated that about three O2 molecules are lost every time a single CO2 molecule is produced by fossil fuel combustion
Oxygen levels are dropping, and in the past when that happened, it can be tied to a mass extinction, which involves most of the times a climate change.
And this doesn’t only affects the atmospheric Oxygen, scientists have recorded a steady decline in ocean oxygen in open waters of the North Pacific Ocean of about 0.3% per year since the 1950s.
National Geographic: These are not coastal dead zones, like the one that sprawls across the Gulf of Mexico, but great swaths of deep water that can reach thousands of miles offshore. Already naturally low in oxygen, these regions keep growing, spreading horizontally and vertically. Included are vast portions of the eastern Pacific, almost all of the Bay of Bengal, and an area of the Atlantic off West Africa as broad as the United States.
Globally, these low-oxygen areas have expanded by more than 1.7 million square miles (4.5 million square kilometers) in the past 50 years.
This phenomenon could transform the seas as much as global warming or ocean acidification will, rearranging where and what creatures eat andaltering which species live or die. It already is starting to scramble ocean food chains and threatens to compound almost every other problem in the sea.
Scientists are debating how much oxygen loss is spurred by global warming, and how much is driven by natural cycles. But they agree that climate change will make the losses spread and perhaps even accelerate.
“I don’t think people realize this is happening right now,” says Lisa Levin, an oxygen expert with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, in San Diego.
SIP: Suboxic zones have oxygen concentrations 98% lower than the mean surface concentrations. A recent study found that a 1°C warming throughout the upper ocean will result in the increase of hypoxic areas by 10% and a tripling of the volume of suboxic waters (Deutsch et al. 2011).
And then there are changes, which are expected to decrease the capacity of the atmosphere to handle greenhouse gases, or how potent greenhouse gases are.
NASA: Once GHGs like methane and the molecules that create ozone are released into the air, these gases mix and react together, which transforms their compositions. When gases are altered, their contribution to the greenhouse warming effect also shifts. So, the true effect of a single GHG emission on climate becomes very hard to single out.
Because higher temperature produces more water vapor, the weather becomes more erratic over time – it has more energy to play with. But this poses a threat to food production, and flooding is certainly a problem for everyone impacted. Additionally higher temperatures are projected, and which are projected to last longer and to be more severe.
A study published in April 2015 concluded: About 18% of the moderate daily precipitation extremes over land are attributable to the observed temperature increase since pre-industrial times, which in turn primarily results from human influence.
For 2 °C of warming the fraction of precipitation extremes attributable to human influence rises to about 40%.
Likewise, today about 75% of the moderate daily hot extremes over land are attributable to warming.
It is the most rare and extreme events for which the largest fraction is anthropogenic, and that contribution increases nonlinearly with further warming. New York Times and Nature
So what are we waiting for?
We have to start large scale, international wide actions to reduce the amount of CO emissions.
- This includes taxing CO2 (put a price on carbon pollution)
- Give incentives to clean forms of energy generation (and that means for most Solar and Wind power).
- Push projects which aim for carbon sequestration techniques
- Give incentives for electric vehicles
- Build the next generation energy infrastructure
- Build and think decentralized. Thus, less prone to extremes, less chance for power outages.
- Give incentives for people who switch to electric vehicle transport (i.e. bus line driving, battery price discount, free parking in the city, CO2 free city zones).
Teaser image via SCRIPPS O2