Climate Change Defined
Climate change encompasses global warming, but refers to the broader range of changes happening to our planet. These include rising sea levels, shrinking mountain glaciers, and ice melting at a faster pace than anticipated.
Unprecedented Carbon Dioxide Levels
Carbon dioxide levels today are higher than at any point in at least the past 800,000 years. The rapid increase is primarily due to fossil fuel use and deforestation, altering the natural greenhouse effect.
Ocean Acidification Surprises
Oceans have absorbed about 30% of emitted carbon dioxide, causing acidification. Surprisingly, this alters sound propagation underwater, potentially affecting marine life communication, navigation, and predator-prey relationships.
Unexpected Methane Sources
While CO2 is the most talked-about greenhouse gas, methane emissions are surging. Sources include wetlands, agriculture, and surprisingly, the melting of methane hydrates from ocean floors due to warmer sea temperatures.
Greenland's Vanishing Lakes
Greenland's supraglacial lakes are vanishing within hours, a phenomenon only recently understood. These sudden drainages contribute to faster ice sheet movement, raising sea levels more than previously projected.
Insects' Climate Role
Insects play a surprising role in climate change. As temperatures rise, insect metabolism accelerates, leading to increased respiration and unexpectedly significant CO2 emissions, which contribute to atmospheric warming.
Agriculture's Dual Challenge
Agriculture faces a dual challenge: it's both a victim and contributor to climate change. Surprisingly, certain farming practices can sequester carbon, turning agriculture into part of the solution.