News / Science & Technology

Global Warming Gases at Highest Level Ever

FILE - Smokestacks at the Jeffrey Energy Center coal power plant as the suns sets near Emmett, Kan.
FILE - Smokestacks at the Jeffrey Energy Center coal power plant as the suns sets near Emmett, Kan.
Lisa Schlein
The World Meteorological Organization reports the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in Earth's atmosphere reached a record high in 2012. This accelerating trend will have devastating consequences on climate change, the U.N. agency says, unless the world's nations do more to to rein in emissions.   

WMO reports the warming effect on the Earth’s climate has risen by nearly one-third since 1990.  This is mainly due to atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide.

The agency’s annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin notes that fossil fuel-related emissions, mainly from carbon dioxide, account for 80 percent of the increase in warming.  It says CO2 (the English chemical formula for carbon dioxide) concentrations in the atmosphere grew more rapidly last year than the average growth rate over the past decade.

FILE - Michel Jarraud, WMO secretary-general, speaks next to IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri during a news conference in Stockholm, Sept. 27, 2013.FILE - Michel Jarraud, WMO secretary-general, speaks next to IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri during a news conference in Stockholm, Sept. 27, 2013.
x
FILE - Michel Jarraud, WMO secretary-general, speaks next to IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri during a news conference in Stockholm, Sept. 27, 2013.
FILE - Michel Jarraud, WMO secretary-general, speaks next to IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri during a news conference in Stockholm, Sept. 27, 2013.
WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud says the increase of carbon dioxide is mostly due to human activity - industry, energy production, land use and deforestation, among other factors.

“CO2 is a very stable gas, so it means that there is no sort of chemical reaction which would naturally destroy CO2 [in] the atmosphere. So it stays for very long periods - hundreds of years, or even more. And that is why, as a consequence, the actions we take now or the actions we do not take now will have consequences for a very, very long period,” said Jarraud.  

WMO says methane is the second biggest contributor to greenhouse gas and to the potential warming of the atmosphere. About 40 percent of methane reaches the atmosphere from natural sources, such as wetlands and termites. The other 60 percent comes from human activities including cattle breeding, rice agriculture, fossil fuel exploitation and biomass burning.

Nitrous oxide is the third most important greenhouse gas.  WMO says about 60 percent of emissions come from natural sources and 40 percent from human activity.  The U.N. agency notes nitrous oxide also plays an important role in the destruction of the atmosphere's ozone layer, which protects people from the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun.

In its recent report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirmed that atmospheric concentrations of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide are breaking all records, and are now higher than they have been for more than 800,000 years.  

WMO Secretary-General Jarraud says this is causing the climate to change in many worrisome ways.

“We are worried not only about the impact on temperature, which is important, but also the impact on the water cycle - more droughts, more floods in other parts of the world. We are worried about the impact on a number of extreme weather events. We are worried about the impact on the sea level,” he said.  

Jarraud warns global average temperatures may be 4.6 degrees higher than pre-industrial levels by the end of this century if the world carries on with “business as usual.”  This, he says, would have devastating consequences for future generations.

The longer nations wait to strengthen controls on greenhouse-gas emissions, Jarraud says, the more difficult it will be to keep temperatures from rising above the two-degree Celsius limit that countries have agreed.

Even if the world acts now and emissions of CO2 are stopped immediately, he says most aspects of climate change will persist for centuries.

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Sally Beth Edelstein from: NY
November 07, 2013 1:00 PM
With greenhouse gases reaching record levels its ludicrous not to think its affecting climate change. As the country swelters through scorching heatwaves,devastating fires, floods and tornadoes it's hard not to connect the dots with global warming.

It's not the first time naysayers doubted mans hand in changing Mother Nature. Back in the 1950s when global warming was the farthest thing from our gas-guzzling minds, debates broke out whether nuclear bomb testing was affecting the weather.
Besides which, what was a little greenhouse gas build up when we had radiation in the atmosphere to be worried about.

by: ReduceGHGs from: Oregon
November 06, 2013 5:46 PM
And how many of us are doing anything about the ever increasing deterioration. Business as usual is dangerous. Our future generations are at risk. Join the efforts to reduce global emissions. http://exhaustinghabitability.com/

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs