To understand just how devastating an increase in greenhouse gases could be for our planet we must first understand how greenhouse gases work. Energy reaches our planet in the form of solar radiation and is either reflected or absorbed and released as infrared radiation. Normally this radiation would leave the planet, however, gases in the atmosphere act as a one way mirror allowing solar radiation in but trapping IR radiation. Without any gas we could not survive, however, too much will cause problems. Our atmosphere is made of 78% N2, 21% O2, 1% Ar, 0.4% H2O and <0.1% of other gases with carbon dioxide at 0.041%. Carbon dioxide levels are 'low' compared to the rest of the gases in the air, so why do speakers use it as a key point of climate change conversation? Airborne concentrations of this gas have been steadily increasing since data was first recorded in 1960. A longitudinal study by the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory has shown that from 1960 to today carbon dioxide levels have risen by 90 ppm (parts per million). This seemingly small increase could have devastating affects on our enviornment. Global temperatures have been rising from the increase in efficient green house gases such as carbon dioxide, and also notably, methane, and nitrous oxide. A 2018 study of temperature increases and it's affect on organsim ranges predict that at a 3.2 C change in average temperature could result in the geographic range loss greater than 50% for 49% of insects, 44% of plants, and 26% of vertabrates. These results are worrying. The future of our species and others lies in question. We must make a change now in order to avoid catastrophe.
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