Global Warming and Climate Change – Part 3

RECENT DATA AND MODELS

One of the most important aspects of keeping one step ahead of climate
change is making sure good data is being received on the many different
fronts that climate change is having an impact.

CARBON LEVELS

As of 2007, there were an average of 384ppm of carbon in the atmosphere,
by weight. These levels fluctuate on a predictable schedule according to the
growing season in North America, having the majority of the world's
temperate plants. The rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was dramatic
enough, even in the 1950s, to have been monitored for changes.

Bear in mind that the variance between glacial time periods and the current
interglacial period that encompasses the majority of recorded human history
and civilization varied by only 70ppm. It doesn't take much of a change in
carbon dioxide concentrations to cause some very serious Earth changes.

CONTINUED EMISSIONS

Not only do emissions need to be capped, but they must actually stop
altogether before any real improvement in things can begin. As long as
there is petroleum and coal, there's little likelihood that the nations of the
world will just keep their hands off the last oil. It is thought that even with
strict international agreements and controls, the levels of carbon in the
atmosphere will very likely double by 2100, causing what could be as much
as 5.8C warming in the global average.

Those same models suggest the actual figure, based upon what is currently
known about atmospheric sciences could also be as low as 2C. That could be
the difference to the end of nearly all life on Earth and simple flooding and
migration events that could allow the polar bear to be preserved. However,
the amount of carbon dioxide that must be emitted to attain a sustainable
future without severe tolls on human populations is also quite great.

THE OZONE-DEPLETION MODEL

The production of sulfur dioxide is a very worrisome possible consequence of
climate change, as this would also further deplete the ozone layer that is
already hanging on like a loose tooth. CFCs are also rather potent
greenhouse gasses, that have been cut back in the early 'aughts thanks to
international agreements that phased out their production over many years.
However, the ozone and cold aerosol cycles are not well-known and it wasn't
until 1999 that researchers began to realize that the effect of tropical water
vapor as a result of climate change was making the ozone depleting aerosols
at the poles even more effective at destroying ozone. The net effect is
makes polar melting even faster. So, even though ozone is a greenhouse
gas, its lack actually has more impact because of the way it affects the
circulation of what is actually the biggest greenhouse gas of all: water vapor

NEW SOURCES OF GASEOUS CARBON

As the effects of climate change intensify, it is believed that vast amounts of
carbon that have been stored away for a very long time may be released.
One example of this are peat bogs that surround the regions near the polar
ice caps. As these begin to decompose, microbial activity will release
massive amounts of carbon dioxide. This is an example of a feedback effect.
These feedbacks accelerate the pace of climate changes even further when
one of these tipping points is reached. Other potential sources include a
massive die-off of marine life that would result in starving the oceans of
oxygen. A lifeless ocean is essentially unable to absorb excess carbon
dioxide, increasing the amount of excess carbon added to the atmosphere
each year.

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