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10.Rapid Global Warming

TOP > Environmental Activities > The President's Green Column >
10.Rapid Global Warming

The President's Green Column

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10.Rapid Global Warming

I have been discussing about the major environmental problems that require global attention in the long run in this column. Amongst the 3 most important problems, I have written about 'Insufficiency of energy resources, water & food' and 'Usage & disposal of radioactive materials'.

In this entry, I would like to discuss about 'Rapid Global Warming'. Despite the continuous research around the world with regards to global warming, there have yet to be any scientific establishment of theories and analysis.

As of now, I would base my writing on the report by Working Group 1 of IPCC in 2007, which is also the most recognized of its type around the world. The diagrams and graphs below are extracted from this report. Please click on the link below for the original documents.

http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-ts.pdf

The below are made with reference to facts and data from the IPCC report with regards to CO2 and global warming.

Is Global Warming a reality?

Looking back 150 years
Method of Measurement: Thermometer
  • Increase of temperature by 0.74℃ for the past 100 years till 2005
  • Increasing speed of escalation of temperature

Looking back 1300 years
Method of Measurement: Annual rings of trees, ice sheet, shells, foraminifer and other materials of nature
  • The warmest temperate for the past 1300 years
  • Sharp increase of temperature since the 20th century

Looking back 650,000 years
Method of Measurement: Analysis of ice sheet in South Pole and Greenland
  • For the past 500,000 years, there had been 5 cycles of Glacial-Interglacial. We are now in the midst of Interglacial.
  • In the past Interglacial, there were times whereby the temperature is higher than that of the present.

(Conclusion)
1.There is no doubt that the Earth is warming for the past 100 years.
2.However, the speed of increase in temperature has been escalating.
3.Nevertheless, the current high temperature can be considered to be part of the natural phenomena
4.he problem is not the high temperature but the speed of global warming.

Is CO2 concentration level in the atmosphere increasing?Is this due to human activities?

  • 1. The current CO2 concentration level is the highest for the past 650,000 years.
    Concentration level was between 180 to 300ppm for the past 650,000 years
    Just before the Industrial Revolution, the concentration level was of 280ppm.
    After which CO2 concentration level increased rapidly to a level of 379ppm in 2005.
  • 2. In addition, the speed of increase in concentration level of CO2 has been escalating.
    The speed of increase in CO2 concentration level from 1995 to 2005 is the highest of that measured since 1960.
  • 3. The main cause for the increase in CO2 concentration level in the atmosphere is human activities.
    Since 1750, about 2/3 of the CO2 emitted by humans are due to the combustion of fossil fuels and the remaining 1/3 is due to the change in use of land (deforestation and decomposition of biomass).

Change in Concentration level of CO2 and other Greenhouse Gases for the past 650,000 years

Changes in Concentration level of CO2 for the past 10,000 years

Is the increase in Concentration level of CO2 and Greenhouse Gases the main cause of Global Warming?

  • 1. The increase of global mean temperature since the 2nd half of the 20th century is mainly due to the increase in emission of greenhouse gases by humans.
  • 2. With references to the stimulated results below, it tallies with the actual temperature when increase in emission of greenhouse gases by human is taken into consideration. When human influence is not included, the data does not tally.

GLOBAL AND CONTINETAL TEMPERATURE CHANGE

Global Warming in the future

In the IPCC report, a forecast of greenhouse gases effects for the next 100 years (2080-2099) under various scenarios have been made based on the conditions of that from 1980 to 1999.

  • 1. Temperature Change In the next 100 years, to increase by 1.1 to 6.4℃

Change in Temperature for the last century and Prediction of Temperature Change in the next century under different scenarios.

What are the effects of Global Warming?

According to the IPCC report, there would be the following effects

  • Rising Sea Level Increase by 18 to 59cm in the next 100 years
    However, if global warming is to continue for more than 1000 years, the ice sheets of Greenland will melt and one can expect an increase of sea level by 7m.
  • Increased frequency of high temperature and heat wave,
  • Increased frequency of heavy rain
  • Increased amount of areas to be affected by droughts
  • Increased occurrence of strong tropical cyclone
  • Increased frequency of extreme high sea level
  • Increased insufficiency of water & food, increased damages from heat wave, storm, flood & droughts and higher risk of infectious diseases
  • Possible distinction of many species due to the mere increase of temperature by a few degrees
  • Increased use of water and increased agriculture harvest in cold places (high latitude)

My Opinion

We can be almost 100% sure that increased CO2 emission due to human activities have led to the rapid global warming. However so, technologies to derive stimulation of weather and sea level is still undergoing research and exactly how badly would aftereffects of further global warming influence human beings still remain a mystery.

Assuming that CO2 emission due to human activities is the main cause of global warming and global actions are taken to control and reduce the emission. According to the scenario of 100 years later as stated above, it would definitely take more than 100 years to stop the warming. Without doubt, we are to live with the fact that the earth is warming for more than 100 years ahead of us.

No doubt that it is essential to draw strategies to stop global warming. However as we are unable to stop it from happening, I think that we should work on how to minimize damage as a result of global warming.

In terms of level of urgency, I feel that priority should be given to the resolution of 'Insufficiency of water, food and energy resources'.

In my next entry, I would like to conclude on the possible strategies to tackle the 3 major environmental problems that I have discussed so far.

15 Dec 2008 Hironobu Matsui

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