The UN announced this Monday that the greenhouse gas levels in our atmosphere, that contributes to climate change, reached its pinnacle in 2018 and has opined that it’s a cause for concern and called for action from all countries to attenuate these rising levels and to safeguard the future of humankind.
Albeit there being an awareness about the increase in the levels and its putative role in climate change due to which the Paris agreement was initiated, there seems to be no sign of a decline in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the upper atmosphere; seems an effort in futility, observed Petteri Taalas, the head of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
The WMO pegged the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere in 2018 to be 407.8 ppm (parts per million), which was an increase from 405.5 ppm in 2017, which was above the annual average in the past decade.
Methane is the 2nd most prevalent greenhouse gas contributing to climate change, being produced by cattle and during the fermentation process, after CO2, which is the predominant one contributing to 2/3rd of the warming. The 3rd major greenhouse gas is Nitrous Oxide, caused by using fertilizers for agricultural produce, contributing about 6% to the total warming on Earth.
Levels of Methane and Nitrous Oxide reached record highs last year, the UN maintained.
The WMO also warned that current trends in the increase of greenhouse gases would have a severe impact on our posterity as they would have to tackle extreme weather as a consequence of the increase in greenhouse gases.
Though emissions are the major cause of the increase, the concentration of the gases in ppm is a measure of what remains in the atmosphere after complex chemical interactions between the greenhouse gases and our atmosphere and oceans. It’s believed that roughly 25% of these greenhouse gases are absorbed by the oceans and the biosphere on Earth, including the ice shelves, which are known as cryosphere.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has maintained that to not have any serious ramifications due to climate change, we have to maintain the warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius and for that, the net CO2 emissions must be zero, so that everything that’s being pumped into the atmosphere must have a means to be reabsorbed back. Current trends indicate that we are not on the right path towards limiting the warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The WMO head is optimistic nevertheless because the awareness is at an all-time high, hitherto never seen before as even private players are invested in this cause.
Even when the US is seeing itself withdrawing from the Paris agreement under the Trump administration, there are positive things happening, opined Taalas as the other cities and states are committed towards this cause. That being said, Taalas also mentioned that we have to pick up the pace with which we are addressing things.