(WUTR/WFXV/WPNY-TV) – The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. Their most recent report details irreversible damage for centuries to millennia regarding changes to the ocean, ice sheets, and global sea level caused by climate change. Of the many alarming statistics, a few that stood out in particular were that in 2019, atmospheric CO2 concentrations were higher than at any time in at least 2 million years and our temperatures during the most recent decade (2011-2020) exceeded those of the most recent warm period, around 6,500 years ago. Prior to that, the next most recent warm period was about 125,000 years ago.
These changes aren’t just limited to temperatures. Oceans are known as carbon sinks which means they draw carbon out of the air and into the water and the ocean absorbs about 30% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) that is released in the atmosphere. When CO2 is absorbed by seawater, they react to form carbonic acid which has been making the ocean more acidic. The ocean acidity has already increased about 30% since the industrial era, impacting aquatic life. This can cause major ripples in the food chain if changes are not implemented soon to slow down CO2 emission rates.
Many changes in our climate system become larger directly because of increasing global warming and include increases in: frequency and intensity of hot extremes, heavy precipitation, agricultural and ecological droughts, and the proportion of intense tropical cyclones. What this holds for our future all depends on our actions and those of world leaders to help combat this global threat.