Global climate change is one of the most important challenges of the 21st century. In the last 100 years, the average surface temperature of the planet has risen by approximately 0.7o Celsius and there is overwhelming scientific evidence that this is due to the intensification of the greenhouse effect, in turn caused by the increased atmospheric concentration of certain gases, notably carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O).
The intensification of the greenhouse effect, thanks to the higher concentration of the so-called greenhouse gases (1) in the atmosphere, caused by anthropogenic (human) activities, primarily from the burning of fossil fuels, notably coal, petroleum byproducts and natural gas, which occurs on a worldwide basis due to domestic and commercial uses and in transportation, energy production, industry and agriculture. Other, non-combustion-related anthropogenic emission sources include industrial processes, agricultural activities, waste disposal and deforestation.
To illustrate this, the following charts show the impact of increased emissions* on the planet’s surface temperature, on sea level and on snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere.