Recent research has found that the level of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity has reached an all-time high level of nearly 60 billion tons a year. Despite increasing public attention, policy measures, and adoption of green technologies, the pace at which these changes have been taking place has simply not kept up with the ongoing burning of fossil fuels by increasingly industrialized societies. The rate at which greenhouse gas emissions has increased over time has indeed slowed, but emissions need to start decreasing and as soon and as much as possible.
Human-induced warming has reached a ten-year average from 2013-2022 of 1.14 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, up from a 1.07 degrees average between 2010-2019.
Scientists have calculated a carbon budget that describes how much more carbon dioxide can be emitted before global warming exceeds the threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius that is widely predicted to lead to potentially catastrophic changes to the climate. In 2020, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change calculated that the remaining carbon budget was about 500 billion tons of carbon dioxide. Over the past three years, nearly half of that carbon budget has already been exhausted by the continuing onslaught of carbon emissions.
Researchers describe their study as a timely wake-up call that the pace and scale of climate action to date has been insufficient and that we need to change policy and approaches in light of the latest evidence about the state of the climate system. Time is no longer on our side in trying to stave off the worst effects of climate change.
Photo, posted September 18, 2015, courtesy of In Hiatus via Flickr.