Have you been wondering why the tropical area you live in has suddenly started experiencing unusually cold winters, or why summer temperatures are reaching record-high in certain areas to the extent that people are dying of heatstroke? The answer is global climate change. The following Climate Change Graph from NASA illustrates the change in the surface temperature of the Earth over a period of years.
As it can be seen in the graph, the highest temperatures have been recorded for the last nineteen years, with 2016 and 2020 being the warmest years since 1880.
Reason for such drastic changes in the climate is believed to be an increase in greenhouse effect in the wake of human activities. Greenhouse effect was, once beneficial, in fact essential for human survival on Earth. The Earth`s atmosphere would reflect back some of the Sun`s energy and absorb the rest, reradiating it in the form of greenhouse gases (including Carbon Dioxide, Methane, Nitrous Oxide and some others). This allowed the Earth to maintain a comfortable temperature of around 14-15 degrees Celsius, or else it would have been a frozen planet.
However, human activities – like land clearing, and burning of fossil fuels (coal and oil) – have amplified the greenhouse effect by triggering an increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases, which has led to an increase in Earth`s temperature. This prolonged heating of the Earth is referred to as global warming.
The following graph from NASA provides evidence that climate change can be attributed to an increase in greenhouse gases, as it compares the amount of Carbon Dioxide present in atmospheric samples before and after the Industrial Revolution.
The climate change graphs from NASA represent the increasing temperature of the planet, and its link to the human activity. The following before and after pictures, depict the magnitude of this change, and its devastating consequences.
Drought in Paraguay
This image is from Asuncion, the capital city of Paraguay, after it was hit by a severe drought. Climate Change experts from NASA claimed that it was the second most intense drought in South America since 2002. It can be seen in the second image that the adjoining Paraguay River has drastically reduced water levels as compared to the first image. Not only did it cause shipping to halt, but the dry weather resulted in fire outbreaks and low crop yields.
Salty Water in Florida`s Everglades
The global warming has resulted in increased sea levels in some areas due to flow of water from melting glaciers. Consequently, areas like Florida are affected where salty sea water has entered the Everglades, thus posing a threat to native plants and animals.
The fact that global warming is not going to impact the world in a uniform manner is even more worrisome. True, that we are – and will be – facing extreme climate changes, but according to the predicted patterns by NASA researchers, parts of Asia would become wetter in response to greenhouse gas emissions, while the southwestern United States, Central America and Europe would become drier.
This pattern can already be seen in countries like Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh, where monsoon rains in 2020 caused flooding.
In view of the above, the international community should not only focus on building infrastructure and adaptability measures to cater to the continuing climate changes as predicted by graphs from NASA, but also refrain from activities that may increase the greenhouse effect by opting for more environment-friendly alternatives.