At Because IPCC, our sole mission is to educate the public about the noble work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the reasoning behind their scientific consensus. Without the IPCC, we would not be in any position to understand why climate change is occurring and what we can do to stop it. An important part of the IPCC’s work was aggregating the research about the effects of greenhouse gases and how these gases contribute to climate change.
On earth, an actual greenhouse is constructed using transparent glass, allowing sunlight to permeate through the structure. This sunlight allows the internal temperature of the greenhouse to remain higher than the outside environment and facilitates plant growth. The “greenhouse effect” is a scientific phenomenon that is metaphorically similar, albeit on a much larger scale. The greenhouse effect takes place across the earth and its atmosphere. In this metaphor, the earth is the greenhouse, with its atmosphere as the transparent glass. The greenhouse effect is a natural phenomenon, and facilitated the growth of life on the earth. By raising the temperature of the earth via the greenhouse effect, life was able to flourish under these stable conditions.
But if the greenhouse effect is natural, does that mean climate change is natural? Not necessarily. While the earth’s climate does fluctuate under natural conditions, the rate of change we are currently experiencing suggests that human activity is the driving factor. Greenhouse gases can be naturally occurring such as carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapour and methane, or “man made” such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). In particular the “natural” greenhouse gas carbon dioxide has become one of the chief drivers of climate change as the burning of fossil fuels, used to power machines since the late 18th century, creates CO2 as a byproduct. The addition of this greenhouse gas in significant – and increasing – quantities over many decades has begun to warm the planet, including the oceans, resulting in what is called a “positive feedback” by increasing the greenhouse gas water vapour evaporating from the oceans and in turn amplifying the warming effect. Prior to the industrial revolution there was an equilibrium where naturally produced carbon dioxide was absorbed by natural processes like plants and trees, maintaining a healthy balance of the gas within the atmosphere. However, industrialization has also led to a massive increase in deforestation, exacerbating the greenhouse effect by eliminating a natural carbon dioxide sink. At the same time the warming oceans – into which much atmospheric carbon dioxide dissolved – are less able to absorb CO2.
Ultimately, the reality of climate change and the effects of greenhouse gases have shown that our methods of production are unsustainable. Without considerable change, our inability to reduce our “carbon footprint” may set the earth on a course of runaway warming within only a few decades. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was founded in 1988 and has since been the scientific authority on climate change. In order to combat climate change and mitigate its effects, we need citizens all over the world to take action. Unfortunately, many are still in doubt about the threat of climate change, often due to a misunderstanding of the scientific consensus.
Because IPCC is here to change that. Our mission is to educate citizens about the IPCC and its decades of work accumulating research about climate change. To this end, we’ve developed an insightful graphic novel, detailing the history of the IPCC and its methodology. If you’re interested in advancing the mission of Because IPCC, consider making a donation. With your help, we can inform the public about the IPCC and the threat of climate change.
Cloud Photo by Billy Huynh on Unsplash