Climate change: Greenhouse gases are increasing dramatically

World Meteorological Organization warns of drastic increase in greenhouse gases

The concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has reached a new record level despite the international efforts to protect the climate, according to the latest announcement from the World Metrological Organization (WMO). Although "a decline in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases can be observed in the industrialized countries of Europe, emissions in the emerging countries have increased significantly in return," reports the WMO.

30 percent increased greenhouse effect In the years from 1990 to 2011, the greenhouse effect had already increased by around 30 percent, whereby carbon dioxide is responsible for 80 percent of the effect, reports the World Meteorological Organization. According to the experts, the carbon dioxide concentration rose by a further 0.5 percent in 2011, although efforts to combat climate change have intensified worldwide. "In the meantime, the proportion of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 40 percent higher than before the beginning of the industrial age," reports the WMO.

"Since the beginning of the industrial age in 1750, around 375 billion tons of carbon have been released into the atmosphere as CO2, especially from the combustion of fossil fuels." Around half of the carbon dioxide remained in the atmosphere, the rest was absorbed by the oceans and the terrestrial biosphere, explained WMO General Secretary Michel Jarraud and added: “These billions of tons of additional carbon dioxide in the atmosphere remain there for centuries what our planet continue to heat up and affect all aspects of life on Earth ”. The main reason for the increase in greenhouse gas concentration is "the combustion of fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil in power plants worldwide".

So far, almost half of the carbon dioxide emitted by humans has been absorbed in the natural carbon sinks, but this will not necessarily continue in the future. It can already be seen that the oceans are becoming increasingly acidic due to the CO2 input, which could have an impact on the underwater food chains and coral reefs. In addition, there are numerous “additional interactions between greenhouse gases, the earth's biosphere and the oceans,” continues Michel Jarraud. According to the experts, the monitoring options and scientific research need to be expanded in order to “gain a better understanding of the interactions mentioned”. Because the expected rise in temperature is only one aspect of the increased greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to carbon dioxide, the WMO names methane and nitrogen oxides as the most important greenhouse gases, with the latter being attributed an approximately 300 times greater effect on the climate than carbon dioxide. The problem of the greenhouse effect has been known for a long time in modern industrialized nations and many states are trying to counteract the negative development by expanding renewable energies. For example, Germany again reduced its carbon dioxide emissions in 2011 despite economic growth and the phase-out of nuclear power. The economic crisis in the southern European countries has also contributed to significantly fewer greenhouse gases being emitted across Europe than in previous years. However, the massive increase in emissions in the emerging markets made up for this entirely positive development.

World Bank expects global warming to rise by 4 degrees Celsius. Even the World Bank recently warned of the economic consequences of global warming. According to experts, global warming will "increase by four degrees compared to pre-industrial times" by the end of this century. A warming of at most two degrees is considered to be just tolerable. Tolerable means that possible damage to health and the environment is considered to be justifiable.

Climate change meeting next week with little prospect In the coming week, the environment ministers of the international community want to meet in Doha for the so-called world climate change meeting. The meeting takes place every year and has not yet achieved a breakthrough. The conference in Copenhagen failed in 2009, after which the western industrialized nations could not agree on a burden sharing with the emerging countries. Environmentalists complain that “economic interests are the top priority at the climate meeting and that the urgency has so far not been recognized by all participating countries. (fp)

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Image: Bernd Wachtmeister /

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