Climate change is generally thought of as something that the world will have to contend with in the future. However, there are numerous warning signs that this troubling phenomenon is well underway.
The Growing Problem of CO2 ‒ Since the middle eighteenth century, the advent of industrialization has greatly increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In the mid 1700s, Earth’s atmosphere contained roughly 280 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide. By 2015, levels of atmospheric CO2 had passed the 400 ppm threshold.
Ice Is Disappearing From Greenland ‒ Though its name might suggest otherwise, most of the island of Greenland is actually covered in thick sheets of ice. Warming temperatures have steadily eroded Greenland’s ice mass in recent years, a trend which appears to be accelerating. In fact, this ice sheet is now expected to be completely gone in 10,500 years, an estimate that stood at 22,000 years a decade ago.
Ocean Temperatures are Rising ‒ Care to guess which part of the environment absorbs most of the heat produced by global warming? The answer to this question is the Earth’s oceans, which store 90 percent of this additional heat. The amount of temperature change over the past century (0.18°F) has been small; however, the Environmental Protection Agency notes that the top layer of the planet’s oceans is rising by 0.2°F every ten years.
The United States is Getting Warmer ‒ America is a notably warmer place now than in years past; for about 40 years, surface temperatures in the US have increased at almost double the global rate.
The Oceans Are Rising‒ Warmer weather means melting ice, and melting ice helps to push up ocean levels. From 1993 to 2005 alone, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration estimates that the world’s oceans rose by 0.1 inches (3 millimeters) annually.