Global warming is the increase of the earth’s surface temperature. The rising temperature can be attributed to a variety of factors, most of which relate to human activity. Many people from different sectors have debated the issue. Some argue that there is no global warming while others posit that it is the main reason for the changes in climate and the cause of extreme weather experienced in different regions around the world. Despite the contradicting arguments, many nations have taken measures aimed at countering the effects of global warming. This shows that they attribute the current climate change to the increased temperatures. Scientists have taken time to study and learn more about global warming. International organizations such as the United Nations and other non-governmental organizations have taken a keen interest on the issue as well.
Many causes, which include both natural and human made, have resulted to global warming. However, many people tend to attribute the current changes in atmospheric temperatures to the greenhouse effect. Most of the greenhouse gases occur because of human activities. The increased concentration of greenhouse gases has caused an increase in temperature. Such gases include carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbon gases, and nitrous oxide. More emitted gases are trapped in the atmosphere and this has caused an increase in temperatures. The greenhouse gases are able to increase the earth’s temperatures because of their ability to absorb the thermal infrared radiation from the earth and re-emit it back to the surface (Khandekar et al. 1560).
Humans are considered the main emitters of greenhouse gases. This happens in several ways such as agriculture, sourcing fuel, and transportation. Humans need energy to drive their economies. They get most of the energy required to drive industry by burning fossil fuels such as coal. The combustion of fossil fuels increases the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The energy used in construction and industries, transportation, and agriculture can determine the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The source of energy matters. For instance, electricity can become a major emitter of greenhouse gases if it is sourced from burning coal or oil. More carbon dioxide will be released into the atmosphere if people depend on energy from fossil fuels. More carbon dioxide is emitted from solid waste, wood products, and chemical reactions. Carbon dioxide is emitted naturally as part of the carbon cycle through activities such as volcanic eruptions, respiration from plants and animals, and through ocean-atmospheric exchange. Volcanic eruptions were previously responsible for the increased amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. However, the situation has changed and most of the carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere today can be attributed to human activity (EPA)
Methane is one of the most common greenhouse gases. It is released through the process of organic matter decomposition as well as the production of fossil fuels. Ruminants such as cows, sheep, and camels create and release most of the gas. Other factors such as decomposing food and plants, wastewater management, and mining coal will increase the level of methane gas in the atmosphere. The use of chemical fertilizers and manure will increase the levels of nitrous oxide in the atmosphere. Nitrogen is necessary for the healthy growth of plants. The use of synthetic fertilizers contributes to the increased amounts of nitrous oxide in the atmosphere. In addition, animal manure and urine causes increased amounts of the gas in the atmosphere. Industrial processes increase the amounts of fluorinated gases in the atmosphere. Such gases are potent even though they are used in small quantities. They include hydro fluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride among others. These gases have many functions. They are used in industrial, commercial, agricultural, and domestic applications. Some of the uses include coolants, pesticides, aerosol propellants, and solvents. Therefore, it is possible to control the release of such gases
The effect of the greenhouse gases on global warming depends on factors such as their abundance in the atmosphere, how long the gases last in the air, and the impact they have on temperature. Some gases stay in the atmosphere for many years while others stay for a short time. Water vapor stays in the atmosphere for a short period whereas carbon dioxide can last for many years. In addition, the greenhouse gases have varying impact. Some are capable of increasing the atmosphere at a faster rate than others are. Some gases have a high Global Warming Potential and this means that they are able to absorb more energy, thereby contributing more to global warming.
Although many environmentalists and scientists tend to blame global warming on human activity, it is clear that other sources are responsible for the increased temperatures in the atmosphere. The changes in the sun’s energy that reaches the earth’s surface can be a contributing factor to global warming. Focusing on human activity alone will not help in understanding the cause and in coming up with solutions to the situation. There is a need to examine the natural factors more closely and try coming up with mitigating effects based on the results. At the same time, individual effort alone will not help in combating global warming. The proposed solutions have to be practical on a global scale. The world would change drastically if temperatures continued to increase. Effects would be felt in terms of changes in climate, animal and plant diversity, water levels, weather changes, and human survival.
The world will change as temperatures continue to increase. An increase of just one temperature is likely to cause massive changes. If world temperature were to increase by one degree, the arctic would not be covered in ice for half an year, the south Atlantic would begin experiencing hurricanes, and many homes in the Bay of Bengal would flood while the western region of the US would experience severe droughts, which would lead to the formation of desert regions. As the temperatures continue to increase, more climate changes would occur and this would change the way people live. An increase of two degrees would cause the biosphere to change at a rapid rate. The glaciers Greenland would begin disappearing and ice would melt at a faster rate. The vast majority of the world’s tropical coral reefs would disappear. Insects would change their migrating patterns. The northern regions of the US would begin having temperate climate and regions in the pacific such as Tuvalu would be lost because of the increase in sea levels (National Geographic).
An increase of three degrees in the world’s atmosphere would cause great changes to the atmosphere. The arctic would not have any ice during the summer and snowcaps on the Alps would disappear. The increased temperatures would cause the Amazon rainforests to dry out and heat waves would become common. The climate in the Mediterranean and in many parts of Europe would change and it would resemble that of the Middle East during the summer season. El-ninos would become common occurrences. An increase of four degrees would worsen the situation. It would threaten the survival of humanity. The ocean levels would increase and it would overtake deltas that are densely populated. Areas such as Egypt, Bangladesh, and Venice would be submerged. The glaciers would disappear and this would reduce the fresh water available. A further increase in sea levels would increase as the ice sheets in the artic collapse. Major rivers such as the Ganges would begin drying up, and this would threaten the survival of millions of people.
An increase of five degrees would change the world to unrecognizable levels. There would be human migration in many parts of the world, as different regions would become uninhabitable. It is unlikely that many people would survive such a situation. Aquifers feeding the major cities would dry up. The increased populations in some regions and the drying up of resources would lead to unrest. The world would become an impossible place to manage and the social systems would collapse. If world temperature were to increase to six degrees, oceans would change and they would become marine wastelands. Droughts would be common and many parts of the world would become deserts. Natural disasters such as flooding would become common in other regions. There would be mass extinctions and a global wipeout. An increase of six degrees would signify an end of the world (National Geographic).
Many people believe that extreme weather patterns such as droughts, floods, and storms, are because of the increased atmospheric temperature. Global warming will most likely lead to changes in climate patterns. The winter patterns in some regions have changed. Some people report more milder winters while winter in some other places have become longer. Other places are experiencing hotter summers. The changes in climate have posed a serious threat to people, animals, and plants. In 2003, France and other parts of Europe experienced massive heat waves that led to the death of thousands. In France, about fourteen thousand people died because of the heat wave. The extreme heat wave caused the death of about thirty thousand people in Europe during the time (National Geographic). Sea levels have risen in some places. This can be attributed to the melting snowcaps and retreating glaciers. The rise in sea levels have caused forced human migration, as some people have had to move from the areas near the sea. Several regions in the Pacific are already experiencing the effects of rising sea levels. Some of the smaller nations in areas such as Tuvalu and Kiribati have been affected greatly by the rise in sea levels. The nations are small islands, which are surrounded by the water from the oceans and lagoons. This has limited the areas where such people can live. In some cases, it has forced presidents and leaders of the nations to look for land in other countries to relocate its people.
Global warming is a threat to biodiversity. Some plants and animals are not able to survive the changing climates. In some regions, many plant species and vertebrates have become extinct when they could no longer cope with the climatic changes (Malcolm et al., 539-548). Some animals migrate because of the climate and others because they cannot find sustenance when the plants they depend for survival die. A continued increase in temperature would worsen the situation. Polar bears are already at a threat because of the melting ice and glaciers in the artic. A further increase in temperature would change the climate in the northern US and it would become temperate. As insects and animals migrate, the pine beetles would destroy the pine bark forest and this would threaten the survival of the grizzly bears. The changing temperature in the US would reduce the land for farming. Most of the areas would become deserts and they would be unsuitable for farming. This would reduce the production of grain and meat (National Geographic).
Warmer temperatures and increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will disrupt agriculture. Farmers will spend more on the fields because of increased fungi, weeds, and pests. Human health and the environment will be at a risk if more pesticides and insecticides are used in the growth of crops. Regions that are currently conducive for farming will be at risk because of increased possibility of drought if temperatures continue to increase. The floods experienced in other regions will also pose serious challenges because they will damage fields, destroy property, disrupt lives, and endanger people (EPA-Agriculture and Food Supply). Heat waves have negative consequences that affect the health of animals in a negative way. Animals are more vulnerable to disease and their productivity decreases because of the heat waves. Cattle reduce their milk production and fertility because of the increased temperatures. Moreover, increased heat waves can cause death. The increased possibility of drought in some areas will make it harder to get pasture. In addition, climate change has a negative effect on livestock health because it has increased parasites, pathogens, and diseases that affect animals (EPA-Agriculture and Food Supply).
Many marine animals are affected negatively because of temperature changes and increased acidity in the water. Ocean water will become more acidic because of the increased carbon dioxide. This has in turn threatened the survival of animals such as shellfish by weakening their shells. The changes in temperature determine their migration patterns, reproduction, and survival. If there are extreme changes in the seawater, some of the marine animals will not be able to survive. Populations of marine animals are at risk if they are not able to reproduce. The increased temperatures can cause disease and affect lifecycles. Changes in migration patterns can cause competition in the colder regions. There will be more competition for habitat and food and this will threaten the survival of some animals (EPA-Agriculture and Food Supply).
Despite the seriousness posed by global warming and the negative consequences experienced, global warming has some positive effects as well. As more of the colder areas begin warming up, it makes it possible for humans to live there. The melting of the Canadian Tundra would lead to the creation of forests in the region. The northern parts of Canada, which currently have a harsh climate unfavorable for life, would become one of the richest agricultural production regions. Some places are off limits because of their harsh environments. The melting of ice in the artic sea would open the Northwest Passage and ships would be able to pass (National Geographic). Therefore, such places would be more hospitable to people, animals, and plants. Since the changes will happen gradually, the animal species that currently live in such environments will learn to adapt to the situation. The younger ones will be able to adapt more quickly because they will be used to the environment from an early age. In addition, the increased carbon dioxide is expected to be beneficial to agriculture, as it will increase the yields. Crops such as wheat, corn, and soybeans will increase their yield if there is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The warmer temperatures and increased precipitation will make the crops grow at a faster rate. This is beneficial to both humans and animals (EPA-Agriculture and Food Supply).
Many people, institutions, and organizations have devised strategies aimed at controlling global warming or reducing its effects. Many advocate for green economy and way of living, which includes taking measures that will reduce the use of fossil fuels. Most of the proposals focus on the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. Such measures include using electric or hybrid vehicles, using clean renewable energy such as solar and wind. Other measures proposed focus on using and producing energy more efficiently. Some of the renewable energy developed and used include bio fuels and biomass waste, onshore and offshore wind, tidal and wave energy, hydro, and geothermal. Reducing the use of private transportation and using public transport, cycling, and walking will reduce the greenhouse gases emitted. Companies and industries are at the forefront of advocating for a green economy. They have taken measures that will reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. They have changed the way they manufacture, design, use, and dispose their products. Adopting measures such as planting more trees and forests will help in reducing the occurrence of global warming. The trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Other green plants are also capable of absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
It is clear that global warming has not just affected people and nations negatively. For instance, people have been forced to become innovative in their use of technology. This has led to the development of diverse technological applications and it has improved different systems and processes. For instance, the development of hybrid and electric vehicles and technologies related to sun and wind energy use will change the way people live for the better. Many people have become more concerned about the weather and climate changes and this has forced them to change their lifestyles. For instance, people have reduced their use of plastics, which are a biohazard, as they seek ways of reducing their carbon footprints.
Limitations of the Proposed Measures
The measures proposed to reduce the occurrence of global warming and the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere tend to concentrate more on human effort and ability. Some people do not have the technology required to use renewable sources of energy. Many people in the less developed regions may not afford the required technology to harness energy from the sun or wind. In addition, some of these resources are not present in adequate amounts in some areas. the levels of sun, wind, or tide present in some areas may not be sufficient for harnessing sufficient energy for domestic, commercial, or industrial use. Many people find it more convenient and cheap to use fossil fuels. Since many countries have used fossil fuels for a long time, they have developed cheap technology and they have come up with more affordable methods of using the energy. In addition, many machines are developed to be compatible with fossil fuel energy. For instance, it is not currently possible to use renewable sources of energy to power motor vehicles or other sources of energy. People would have to change the mechanics of such equipment to be able to handle other forms of energy. Using other forms of fuels is more expensive. Therefore, for any proposed measures to be effective, they have to be practical and applicable.
Some people advocate for the production and use of bio fuels in exchange of fossil fuels. This may be unrealistic, impractical, and ineffective on a global scale. First, it is not possible to dedicate most of the land for the production of bio fuels. A lot of land would be needed for this since people use fuel for many processes and activities. Not all the areas are suitable for the growth of plants necessary to produce bio fuels. Some parts of the world are already struggling because they cannot find enough land to produce food. Secondly, the growth of such plants would increase the levels of nitrous oxide into the atmosphere, and this would defeat the purpose of controlling global warming. The growth of many plants used for the production of bio fuels such as corn and rapeseed depend on the use of nitrogen-based fertilizers (Crutzen et al. 389-395). Nitrous oxide is one of the greenhouse gases and its emission causes an increase in earth’s surface temperatures. Many people tend to think of nitrous oxide emissions in terms of the chemical fertilizers used. However, they do not consider that the gas can occur naturally when it is released by some plants.
Despite the fact that many scientists have worked to show the effects of global warming, some people remain skeptical concerning the issue. Some are of the opinion that global warming does not exist while others assert that human activity is not responsible for the increased temperatures and other changes in climate. Other people disagree on the measures that should be taken to combat global warming. People are only aware of global warming because of the concerns raised by environmentalists and some scientists. Global warming is an idea and not a tangible concept. This has led many people to question the truthfulness and accuracy concerning global warming. In addition, some of the extreme weather patterns happening today that have been attributed to global warming happened many years ago.
The alarming headlines in many publications are mostly responsible for the sentiments that people have concerning global warming. Newspaper headlines blaming every major weather occurrence or other natural factors are mostly responsible for people’s feelings concerning global warming. The increase in temperature, changes in climate, and declining animal populations in some regions of the world can be attributed to a variety of factors (Lindzen). In addition, many scientists and other stakeholders interested in global warming tend to blame the industrial period on the changes in climate. However, climate changes used to happen before the beginning of the industrial period. Natural changes such as volcanic eruptions and solar energy caused climate changes. Changes in the earth’s orbit can cause climate change as well. This determines the actions of the ice sheets as it can cause them to advance or retreat (EPA).
The issue of global warming might have caused much debate
since it was first proposed. As the years have gone by, scientists have come up
with more evidence concerning the issue but this has not made it clearer. Since
global warming is such an abstract issue, many people have a hard time
believing that it exists. Environmentalists and scientists can only use the
visible effects such as changes in climate to prove global warming. The
dependence on human activity as a main cause of global warming has not made the
matter easier. There is a need to look at the differing perspectives concerning
the causes of global warming. In addition, there is a need to approach the
solutions from multiple perspectives. The proposed solutions should be
practical in the sense that they should be sustainable, affordable, and
manageable. People should not be forced to lower their standards of living and
nations should not be limited in terms of their ability to progress as a way of
trying to reduce their impact on the environment and the climate.
PJ et al. “N2O release from agro-bio fuel
production negates global warming
reduction by replacing fossil fuels.” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 8 (2008): 389-395
EPA. “Agriculture and Food Supply.” United States Environmental Protection Agency. 9 Sep. 2013. Web. 13 Nov. 2014
EPA. “Causes of Climate Change.” United States Environmental Protection Agency. 18 Mar. 2014. Web. 13 Nov. 2014
Khandekar, M.L. “The Global Warming Debate: A Review of the State of Science.” Pure and Applied Geophysics 162 (2005): 1557-1586
Lindzen, Richard. “Global warming what is it about?” United States Environmental Protection Agency. 9 Dec. 2008. Web. 13 Nov. 2014
Malcolm, Jay R. et al. “Global Warming and Extinctions of Endemic Species from Biodiversity Hotspots.” Conservation Biology 20.2 (2006): 538-548
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