Latest report on climate change draws footprints between two Earth Conditions: CO2 concentration and biodiversity

Image Credits: Thefederalist

Nowadays it is worldwide recognized that there are several environmental problems. Climate Change, with the increase of CO2 and the consequential temperature rise, is one of the most spoken ones, due to this danger and already tangible effects.

“But what are exactly the origins of it? How rapidly CO2 concentrations increased over time? And what damages has Climate Change already done on current times?”

The climate has always changed during the origins of planet earth. While the climate has changed over time, species of all around the world (Human beings included) have followed those gradual changes through the adaptation and the evolution.

The report published in Nature in 1999 highlighted the history of the earth CO2 concentration in ppm (parts per million) from 420 thousands of years ago to 1950.


Figure 1 – CO2 concentration time series (NASA)

As it is possible to see in Figure 1 (NASA), in that range of time changes always happened. The vertically rise meaning of the time series line in the period from to 1950 to “current”, where CO2 concentration achieved 406.5 ppm in November 2016 (latest NASA measurements), it is totally shocking.

In a short period of 50 years, human societies made real something that in almost half million of years no species has ever done.

Human societies have developed too quickly in geologic terms of time: from sedimentary societies that discovered the agriculture (11/12 thousands of years ago) to capitalistic societies, and further developed to the industrial revolution in the 19th century.

The daily lifestyle of the modern humans, especially in the developed countries, let to that line of Figure 1, to incredibly rise in that way. This is well showed in the graphic of Figure 2.

It highlights the human demands on different natural resources and ecological services on earth, known as Ecological Footprints, and compare it with the world biocapacity, that is how much food and other natural resources the earth could offer us.

The graphic clearly shows that already in 1970 consumers (so the Ecological Footprint) overcame the biocapacity and that the trend over the last decades continued to increase, due, especially, to the carbon. The provided resources needed by humans in 2012, indeed, were equivalent to 1.6 times the earth’s biocapacity.

Figure 2 – Global Ecological Footprints and World Biocapacity (The Living Planet Report, 2016)

Can you imagine how many of our planets we will need and which kinds of consequences in future there will be if we also consider the population increase that it is estimated to be from 7.3 to 9.7 billion of persons in 2050 according to United States report from 2015. Some of them are already touchable.

The Living Planet Report 2016

The Living Planet Report in 2016, in fact, gave us a dramatic overview of the change rate of the biodiversity on our planet. The Global Living Planet Index shows a decline of 58% between 1970 and 2012. And the future perspectives are not encouraging: the loss of animal population could reach the two-third to the 1970 levels in a situation business as usual.

The causes and threats are not just related to Climate Change, but they regard habitat and loss degradation, species over exploitation, pollution, invasive species, and diseases as well. Moreover, due to the extremely high extinction rate, scientists in a published study in the journal Science Advances  in 2015 wrote about the sixth mass extinction.

As previously showed, human beings role in the recent past is perfectly clear. The doubt is: which kind of role and responsibilities the future societies will have related to the environment and the planet itself in the following future?

Source The Living Planet Report United Nations Sci-news

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