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Rising temps, CO2 levels raise significant climate change concerns

Rising CO2 levels raise significant climate change concerns
Rising CO2 levels raise significant climate change concerns 03:01

A series of new studies on climate change is making clear what scientists and researchers have long been warning about the state of our planet.  

In January, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirmed that 2023 was the hottest year ever recorded on earth. Late last month, a new analysis released by The Associated Press showed 2023 set a record for the highest number of heat-related deaths in the United States.

And on Thursday, scientists from NOAA and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego released a new report about the dangers of human-caused climate change.

The scientists found that levels of carbon dioxide, a potent greenhouse gas, are surging faster than ever and accelerating on a steep rise to levels far above any experienced during human existence.

Hydro-climatologist on how increasing temperatures will impact the state 01:18

While the Bay Area is finally catching some relief from the season's 1st heat wave, experts are concerned about 2024 and what other climate news may emerge. The early-season rising temperatures are not just a figment of your imagination.

"We are seeing rising temperatures earlier and earlier," said renowned hydro-climatologist Dr. Peter Gleick, founder of the Bay Area's Pacific Institute. For him and other prominent, authoritative experts, there is no doubt about what's behind the rising temperatures.

"We know that humans are changing the climate," said Gleick. "That's no longer an issue for debate. The science is very clear about that, and we know that one of the impacts will be rising temperatures."

Gleick showed CBS News Bay Area the data NOAA has gathered from 1895 through 2023. 

"The trend over time has been a very significant increase in the average temperature in California," said Gleick. "So the average temperature is two degrees higher now than it was a century ago."

The rising temperatures are leading to earlier springs, hotter summers, and an increased risk of extreme weather and fire danger. The ramifications are growing in California. 

'We're losing our house insurance because of increased wildfire risk," said Montara resident Clyde Jones, now struggling to find a new insurer.

It's also a problem for agriculture, birds, and pollinators.

"The plant life and animal life around us are adapted to yesterday's climate," explained Gleick. "Not the climate of today, much less the climate of tomorrow so we're seeing species that are threatened by the changing weather patterns that we're seeing."

Gleick said dealing with climate change in the broadest sense means three options: reducing greenhouse gas emissions by producing energy without burning fossil fuels, adapting to climate change and dealing with its impacts, or suffering from the impacts. There will be more heat-related deaths and more records broken in the future.

"Because we didn't mitigate greenhouse gases early enough, because we didn't pay attention to the warnings from the climate science community decades ago, that would have helped to reduce the threats that we're now seeing," noted Gleick.

He cautioned that while the Bay Area will have cooler and warmer years, those variations shouldn't lull our communities into a false sense of security. He reiterated what the data is showing -- it's slowly and steadily getting hotter and hotter, and we may not be aware of the danger.

"It's like that old classic tale: you put a frog in a pot of boiling water and the frog is going to jump right out. But if you a put a frog in cold water and slowly heat up the water, the frog doesn't see what's going on until it's cooked," said Gleick.

The game plan is to keep up-to-date on the situation and jump into action before the climate crisis boils over.

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