Basically, carbon dioxide is a particle in the air (like oxygen), that is always present. The light from the sun travels to earth, bounces back, but gets blocked by carbon dioxide. The more carbon dioxide, the more heat gets trapped. That’s why we call it a greenhouse gas. We are trapping heat. However, in a greenhouse you can open up the roof if it’s too hot. On earth, not so much.
What Is CO₂
To understand what is needed, and why it is needed, it is important to know what carbon dioxide (better known as CO₂) actually is. So, let’s take a closer look. CO₂ is an ever-present gas. It’s formed through the decomposition of organic matter that gets released into the atmosphere. The same gas is used by plants for photosynthesis. Without carbon dioxide plants would not be able to grow. However, by burning fossil fuels, - a man-made activity – society has been releasing carbon dioxide at a much higher rate than bearable for our planet.
Does 1° Celsius matter?
Yes, it does. The media is communicating more and more about rising temperatures. 1° Celsius extra in our atmosphere enables weather extremes, that can cause a temperature rise of nearly 10°C. That’s why, in summer, we experienced heat waves up to 58°C in India or 55°C in the Death Valley, California.
The goal: keeping the temperature rise below 1.5°C
Why are we so keen on keeping the temperature below 1,5°C? Simple. 1,5°C enables our society to live on. It’s far from ideal, but it will be liveable. Temperature risings above 1,5°C will cripple crop growth, double forest fires, … The impact on our way of life will be far from pleasant.