Over the past few years, carbon dioxide has been getting a bad rap from the scientific community, with claims that it is in the process of destroying the Earth. These accusations are not false, but it is mostly our fault that caused all of this to happen.

Carbon dioxide is one of several greenhouses gases. Greenhouse gases let in sunlight and then trap the heat trying to escape back out to space in order to keep the Earth warm. Trapping this warmth from sunlight is essential to sustaining life on Earth when the greenhouse gases are at appropriate levels. The issue is that now, thanks to the destructive human activities, a lot more carbon dioxide is being released into the air than normal.

This is not something that has started recently; it is an issue that has been going on since the Industrial Revolution. The emission and accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached a point where its dangerous effects have started to appear.

The reason that everyone is so fixated on carbon dioxide emissions is that the modern human activities have produced so much of it that it has now become the most prevalent greenhouse gas; however, other gases like methane and even water vapor contribute to planetary warming. Activities like agriculture, cutting down trees, manufacturing plastics, and burning of fossil fuels have started to collectively issue more carbon dioxide than the planet can bear.

What will happen?

The rise in carbon dioxide and the subsequent warming of the Earth poses a great danger to the survival of mankind. When the ice melts from the polar ice caps or glaciers on land, the sea level rises, the salinity of the oceans is decreased, and cities near the sea become more prone to flooding. A lot of species in the ecosystem will become extinct, putting food chains at risk.

Some parts of the world will experience extreme heat waves, droughts, and wildfires, whilst others will see an overpour of rain, causing floods. Hurricanes will become even more devastating and wide reaching.

How to know if the Earth is warming up?

Scientists keep analyzing the Earth’s temperature through the different reports from several weather stations spread all over the planet. They not only check the temperature on land but also in the sea. They do this by using ships, satellites, bouys, and weather balloons.

We have known about the concept of global warming since at least the 1930s. In 1820, French physicist Joseph Fourier came up with the idea of the greenhouse effect and then in 1861, the Irish scientist John Tyndall identified the gases, including carbon dioxide, that are responsible for this effect.

Photo via. Weather Station

What next?

The amount of carbon dioxide that we can emit into the Earth’s atmosphere depends on our tolerance for the changes we will face in terms of the climate and extreme weather events. Scientists have come up with budgets dictating how much carbon dioxide can be emitted whilst keeping Earth safe.

Previously governments were not fully aware of the prevailing forces affecting our climate systems; however, since 1992 the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was formed in an effort to educate those in power. Though no substantial changes have occurred since there has been a lot of conversation on policy-making and negotiations going on in an attempt to bring a change to the planet, which is a step in the right direction. 

Photo via. Applied Global Technologies

We, as individuals, can help too. Sometimes it just takes one person to make a difference. Try to be more energy efficient and adopt a flexitarian diet. Instead of driving alone to work every day, ride your bike, carpool, or utilize public transportation. Buy local food. Decrease your use of plastics. There are a lot of steps individuals can take to reduce their carbon footprints. You can also influence your family and friends to do the same. If everyone makes just one small change, it will have a huge effect.