TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Over the past few decades, climate data has made it crystal clear that the Earth is warming. But how sure is science about the cause of global warming?
In just the past century, the earth has warmed by two degrees Fahrenheit – most of that occurring in the past 40 years. It may not sound like much, but over the past 10,000 years – after recovering from the last ice age- the planet’s average temperature has barely budged – this stability allowing for the rise of modern civilization.
But not all parts of the planet are warming at the same rate. The land is warming 50% faster than the global average, magnifying droughts and heat waves.
In Tampa, yearly temperatures have increased by three degrees, with winters spiking by five.
As a result, record cold in the Tampa Bay area has all but disappeared.
In the Arctic, temperatures are warming at three-times the global rate.
Arctic sea ice is vanishing – the volume decreasing 40% in just 40 years. In turn, less ice acts as positive feedback and accelerates arctic warming.
Ice on land, otherwise known as glaciers, is melting all over the world – two-thirds are on track to disappear by 2100.
This melting ice continues to raise sea levels.
Those seas are absorbing 90% of the excess heat from climate change. That’s the equivalent heat of 600,000 Hiroshima nuclear bombs per day.
The heat is decimating coral reefs.
The evidence is overwhelming – the Earth continues to warm at a rapid pace. But do atmospheric scientists really agree on what’s causing it? The answer is yes.
In 2021, researchers surveyed nearly 3000 scientists. 91% of meteorologists and 99% of climate experts agreed that humans are the main culprit, due to the burning of fossil fuels and the release of heat-trapping greenhouse gas pollution.
The research consensus is even stronger. In 2019, the evidence for man-made warming reached the elusive scientific “gold standard” – meaning there is only a one-in-a-million chance this warming could be random and due to natural fluctuations.
As long as humans continue business as usual, the heat will keep coming. The Earth is on track to add another 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit in the coming decades. But the big question is, what does this mean for humanity and how concerned should we be? We’ll discuss that in next week’s Climate Classroom.