The Three Numbers: Global
By: Purity Case (MTH – 98)
In this project we will be look at three different numbers
565 gigatons, 2 degree Celsius, 400 parts per million (ppm) and how they relate
to global climate change, this can also be referred to as Global Warming. Frist,
let’s take a look at what the numbers mean individually and how they relate to
Global Warming. After we will then review the numbers in relation to one
another (big picture).
Let’s start off with 565 gigatons, now this may sound like a
very large number, well it is. Especially when we reference the number as the
amount of carbon dioxide that humans are pouring into the atmosphere. Now this
number 565 gigaton has been calculated by a computer-simulation.
Have you ever wondered how much carbon dioxide you are emitting
throughout your daily activities (household heating source, driving, natural
gas, recycling, etc.)? I did and through a carbon foot print calculator I was
able to! Through my findings I personally emit 10,718lbs of carbon dioxide a
year. Now if we look at 565 gigatons and turn into pounds you get: 1.246e+6 (scientific
notation). Now let’s say that you do not know that scientific notation is, let’s
break it down: 1 metric ton = 2204.62 pounds, now let’s multiply 565 by 2204.62
you end up with 1,260,000,000 pounds.
Now let’s let that sink in a moment and move on to our
second number 2 degree Celsius. Here in the United States we do not see degree Celsius
often as we measure tempter in Fahrenheit. We know that 32 degree Fahrenheit is
equal to 0 degree Celsius. So then 2 degree Celsius is 35.6 degree Fahrenheit
(2 Celsius x 9/5 (or 1.8) + 32 = 35.6 Fahrenheit.
When we are looking at Global Climate change the consensus is
that the global temperature should be below 2 degree Celsius. To ensure what we
remain under, deep cuts in global emissions are required, to hold the increase
below 2 degree Celsius (about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Since we have increased
the Earths temperatures by 0.8 degree Celsius we are currently less than
halfway to the target. Let’s bring back 565 gigations (1,260,000,000lbs) of
carbon dioxide (CO2) that is currently in the atmosphere. Say we significantly
reduce the amount of CO2 that we are releasing today. Do you think that will
make a change in the temperature increase? Unfortunately not, computer
calculations determine that temperature would likely continue to rise another
0.8 degree, from the previously released CO2.
Now let’s take a look at our third and final number 400
parts per million (ppm). What is PPM? We define ppm as one in a million (1/1,000,000).
When we are looking at 400ppm, that is parts per million of carbon dioxide. For
example (you have 4 defective water bottles in a shipment of 1,000. 4/1000 = 0.0004
or 4% defective.. 0.0004 x 1,000,000 = 4,000ppm).
The concentrations of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere has
risen rapidly since we began measurements nearly 60 years ago. Climbing from
316ppm to more than 400ppm today. At this rate in growth we will hit 500ppm
within the next 50 years, with this increase will we will be on track to reach
a temperature boots of 3 degree Celsius.
In conclusion environmental efforts to tackle or reduce
global warming has failed. We continue to release carbon dioxide into the
atmosphere, especially as countries and industries develop. Resulting in no significant
sign of a break in carbon dioxide emissions.