It's not hard to reason this one but you migh...
"Climate change is not really a political problem. It's a HUMAN problem." - Al Gore
Today is Al Gore's 64th birthday, and considering how he has become the poster boy for the fight against climate change, we take a closer look at a cause to which he has dedicated much of his life. Here are 10 facts about global warming that you probably never knew:
Fact One: Here are some of the shocking statistics as calculated by IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports. The last 2 decades of the last century were the hottest in 400 years, while other studies claim they may be the hottest in several millennia too! It has been proven up to 90% certainty that human habits and lifestyle are half the cause of this phenomenon. Besides this, the CO2 levels in the air are the highest in 650,000 years with an 11% increase since 1950 while sea levels have risen by about an inch!
Fact Two: According to several studies, the idea that local temperatures should directly reflect global warming is a complete myth. In fact, several regions on the planet may even cool slightly even as the Earth itself warms on the whole. Measuring climatic changes in temperature is actually an extremely complex science that requires one to take several other factors into account.
Fact Three: This may not come as a surprise but glaciers and mountain snows are melting at a rapid rate! A prime example of this might be Montana's Glacier National Park, which today has only 27 glaciers left as opposed to 150 in 1910! In large chunks of the Northern Hemisphere, thaws have begun to come earlier and freezes later, a cycle that severely affects food crop as well.
Fact Four: A big enough volcanic eruption could do wonders as far as cooling the planet is concerned, even if the other consequences might be catastrophic. This is because the sulfuric acid yielded by the explosion would combine with the water vapor to form a 'shield' of sorts, which in turn would deflect sunlight away from the Earth. For example, if a major volcano like Krakatoa ejected these particles, which form a shield in the air, the surface could be cooled by over 1 degree celsius in just one year!
Fact Five: A handful of scientists were interested in such a phenomenon as far back as 1908. In fact, Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius attempted to take a stab at estimating how much the globe would warm if industrial emissions doubled CO2. It turned out to be incredibly accurate at 5 degrees celsius but then again, Arrhenius also believed that the year this might happen would be 4000!
Fact Six: Schmittner 2011, a recent science publication, only came out to refute the above fact and claimed that the temperature change which occurs upon a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration is actually much lower than once thought at about 2.3 degrees celsius. This buys us more time to lower the probability of the extreme consequences of climate change!
Fact Seven: We've all heard a million little ways in which we can do our bit to help the environment but here's an uncommon one we don't hear too often: opt to fly during the day rather than at night! Apparently contrails left by planes actually reflect sunlight in the daytime. However, they have the reverse effect of trapping heat by night. So if you want to do your bit to mitigate global warming, fly during the day--and of course, buy carbon credits to offset your emissions.
Fact Eight: Aerosols are polluting particles that have now been discovered as possible aides in reducing the imminent threat of global warming. This is because of their global dimming properties, which tend to deflect sunlight and stop it from reaching the Earth's surface. They also extend the life span of clouds and as such several scientists have proposed an ejection of these particles into the air. However, one cannot deny that these aerosols can be extremely toxic, especially if pumped into the air we breathe! And this approach is controversial, as aerosols are known to be one of the greenhouse gases as well.
Fact Nine: Between 1979 and 1999, the lowest layer of the Earth's atmosphere, the troposphere, increased by 200 metres according to a study at the U.S. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. This increase in height can be directly correlated to warming in this zone!
Fact Ten: Non-scientists often confuse the fact that ozone depletion is caused by the emission of harmful CFCs and gases. However, the truth is that the ozone itself is a greenhouse gas and it too can be harmful to human health when present in lower atmosphere. In reality, there are 2 types of ozone, both good and bad! Stratospheric ozone is 'good' because it keeps harmful UV rays from reaching the Earth's surface.
-Pictures courtesy Thinkstock-
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