The body of scientific evidence documenting the rise of global temperatures is, by now, incontrovertible, as are data showing that the rise is being caused by the concentration of man-made greenhouse gases. If this trend is allowed to continue, we must be prepared for radical changes in our physical world.
The data gathered show that the planet’s average temperature has gone up 0.74ºC over the past one hundred years, while modeling predicts that it is set to rise between 2ºC – 5ºC before the end of the century. For a layman, it is hard to fully grasp the importance of these increases, bearing in mind that the variations in temperature on a daily or seasonal basis, to which we are accustomed, are much higher. We need to change our perspective and remember that we are dealing with average global temperatures. These numbers acquire their full importance when you consider that 5ºC is the difference that exists between the current average global temperature and the one in the last Ice Age. A mere 5ºC difference between us the last Ice Age! What are we going to call this planet that we are overheating with our activity? “The Scorched Age” or the Anthropocene?
In a few years’ time we won’t need to classify our era based on climate change because its effects will be clear to see. The most reliable set of data until now, the IPCC Report, has already made a link between man-made greenhouse gas emissions and the increasing frequency of extreme rainfall, and the increasing rise in the minimum and maximum daily temperatures. Similarly, the UNEP’s report “Keeping Track” (linked to the Global Environmental Outlook-5 (GEO-5), highlights the rapid changes that have taken place over the past twenty years owing to the accumulation of the effects of human activity on the climate system.
DARA’s Climate Vulnerability Monitor indicates an estimated 350,000 deaths annually directly related to climate change; over the next ten years that figure will rise to five million and, according to its calculations, from 2030 onwards we can expect one million deaths a year caused by climate change. Today 80% of all climate-related deaths affect children living in Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.