According to NASA, The Earth’s climate has changed throughout history. Just in the last 650,000 years there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat, with the abrupt end of the last ice age about 11,700 years ago marking the beginning of the modern climate era — and of human civilization. Most of these climate changes are attributed to very small variations in Earth’s orbit that change the amount of solar energy our planet receives.
The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is extremely likely (greater than 95 percent probability) to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over decades to millennia.
Earth-orbiting satellites and other technological advances have enabled scientists to see the big picture, collecting many different types of information about our planet and its climate on a global scale. This body of data, collected over many years, reveals the signals of a changing climate. There is no question that increased levels of greenhouse gases must cause the Earth to warm in response.
Ice cores drawn from Greenland, Antarctica, and tropical mountain glaciers show that the Earth’s climate responds to changes in greenhouse gas levels. Ancient evidence can also be found in tree rings, ocean sediments, coral reefs, and layers of sedimentary rocks. This ancient, or paleoclimate, evidence reveals that current warming is occurring roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice-age-recovery warming.
So today, we can safely say Climate Change is the defining issue of our time and we are at a defining moment. From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale. Without drastic action today, adapting to these impacts in the future will be more difficult and costly.
The Human Fingerprint on Greenhouse Gases
Greenhouse gases occur naturally and are essential to the survival of humans and millions of other living things, by keeping some of the sun’s warmth from reflecting back into space and making Earth livable. But after more than a century and a half of industrialization, deforestation, and large scale agriculture, large scale animal farming, quantities of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have risen to unprecedented levels. As populations, economies and standards of living grow, so does the cumulative level of greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions and that’s not a good sign, until we do something about it.
In fact, the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report, which draws on assessments from 750 experts, found that one of the five biggest risks faced by the world in 2017, in terms of potential impact, is weapons of mass destruction. All of the four others are climate-related: extreme weather events, water crises, major natural disasters, and failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation. Climate change has the potential to slow our economic growth in the coming decades as temperature changes could reduce incomes globally by roughly 23% by 2100.
Another study found that a 4.5°C increase in global temperatures could cut the global domestic product by $72 trillion. Hidden within these global economic estimates are the effects on individual companies – and unpredictable weather will only intensify these effects, reducing the availability of raw materials and disrupting supply chains.
The combination of changing prices and changing weather patterns would likely cause changing demand for goods. If global temperatures rise, people would gravitate more towards sustainable businesses are needed for both: to mitigate these life-altering risks for people and cater to their growing demands.