Climate change and global warming are some of the topical issues that are currently dominating in the global sphere. This is because the issue directly affects human beings in many ways. The problem of global warming is mainly cause by industrialization since factories and industries are the major pollutants of the environment. The other cause of global warming is the use of fossil fuel. Fossil fuel contains green house gases that are responsible for global warming. The carbon dioxide produced by combustion of fossil fuel depletes the ozone layer. This paper discusses issues concerning global warming, its effects and possible solutions.
Climate change is a long term phenomenon in which there is a significant change in the weather patterns. This happens over long periods that range from decades to centuries and even millions of years. Climate change is caused by the emission of greenhouse gases. The main gases produced in the atmosphere include carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide (Dauncey & Mazza 2001). The effects of these gases in the atmosphere are profound. Carbon dioxide is known to deplete the ozone layer that prevents harmful ultraviolet radiation from reaching the earth. A combination of these gases causes global warming which in turn has adverse effects on the environment (Hardy 2003).
The global climate is changing mainly because of human activities. The average global temperatures have increased by about 0.70C since the last 1800s. The increase in temperatures is actually responsible for the rise in average global sea levels. It is important to note that the global sea levels have risen by 10 to 25 cm since 1900 (Houghton 2004). The increase in the concentrations of green house gases further compounds the issue because it increases the temperatures of the globe and subsequent increase in sea levels. It is still estimated that the increase in green house gas emission may go beyond control and further increase the global atmospheric temperatures. Climatic change in the 21st century is going to be greater than in the 20th century based on recently published data.
Precipitation patterns have changed and will continue to change as long as there is no effective control mechanism that will check the emission of these gases. Global warming has an effect of increasing the amount of precipitation, because as the sea level continues to increase, more water is taken to the sea, more of it evaporates, and hence there will be an increase in the amount of rainfall (Bates 2010). This is the reason why there has been an increase in the frequency of violent storms, hurricanes, floods, and even the opposite, droughts, can be experienced in other parts of the globe (Maczuklak 2010).
It is important to note that different parts of the globe experience different kinds of impacts of climate change. This is because there is a difference in local and regional climates present in the world. For instance, in the US, it has been studied that the low lying east and gulf coasts are more vulnerable to sea level rise than the west coast. Water resources in the US will be affected differently depending on how climate continues to change and also depending on the variability of the current climate (Maslin 2002).
It is also worth noting that since the entire planet is a whole ecosystem, each and every sector depends on one another. This means that when one sector is affected, the entire system will be affected in a domino effect (Soyez & Grassl 2008). For instance, temperature and precipitation changes will directly affect agriculture. Thus, where water supplies decrease as a result of drier climate, irrigated agriculture is more likely to have its water greatly reduced.
This will lead to the increase of the amount of water needed for irrigation. As a result, water resources will be stressed. In other cases, the effects of the climate change will offset the other sector. Thus, increased run off could partially repulse higher salinity levels in bays and estuaries caused by rise in sea water levels. This suggests that when linkages between related sectors are accounted for, the changes can be different than when sectors are examined separately (Dincer et al. 2010).
Role of non governmental organizations on climate change
The main bodies that are involved in climate change awareness are the United Nations Environment Program, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Earth System Governance Project. The regional organizations include European Environmental Agency and Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia. These organizations work hand in hand with governments to ensure the swift actions against climate change are undertaken (Oxlade 2003). It is obvious and clear that the synergy formed as a result of co working of the government and private sectors is of huge influence in averting climate change issues.
The UNEP has been engaged in many attempts to include the local governments in the efforts towards alleviating the issue of climate change on the globe. The organization has explicitly addressed the nations of the world on the need to focus on the role and potential impacts local governments have, and could have to effectively address climate protection. In the beginning, the main focus was on mitigating climate change and carbon dioxide emissions. More recently, there has been a shift of focus to climate change adaptation (Bulkeley & Betsill 2005).
The main message in many UNEP events has been that local governments are active, and the same is requested from national governments, linked to a second important message namely, that local governments can do much more for climate protection. These local governments require improved framework conditions to act even more effectively (Jones 1997). It is important to recognize that the frameworks refer to those conditions that include supportive legislation, financial and tax mechanisms, direct financial support and formal responsibility. Thus, in most countries, most governments address the issue of climate change voluntarily.
The lobbying of local governments by the UNEP has led to the increase in conferences held by many local governments in the world. The conceptualization and launch of the world mayors and local government climate protection agreement, is a result of the lobbying. This launch called on local governments’ representatives from around the globe, and as representatives of the entire world to reaffirm their commitment in their community for the reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (World Bank 2007).
It is worth noting that local governments or local communities can help to achieve national and international green house reduction targets. Thus, they should address climate change adaptations to improve the resilience of the community. It is also important to note that such local governments’ efforts need national and international framework conditions. These national and international framework conditions actually facilitate and support the local governments’ efforts.
It is therefore not unusual to find out that currently, local governments tend to influence the international climate negotiations (Schneider 1989). These governments are now focusing on being included as national representatives of cities and local governments in national delegations. They aim at being representatives of cities and local governments and they want to have a voice at the UN level. Also, these local authorities are setting up clear agendas that call for support for implementation of climate change policies.
Non governmental organizations are actually challenging governments in many ways. They challenge the governments to be more innovative in order to achieve success, and give the many initiatives an incentive to corporate in the roadmap to climate change mitigation and adaptability. They also lobby governments to find common grounds and position themselves into unanimously supporting the role of renewable sources of energy that are environmentally friendly.
Such energy sources include biofuels, geothermal energy, solar energy and wind power. These sources of energy actually reduce the overreliance on fossil fuels thereby reducing the amount of carbon dioxide emission in the atmosphere. Non governmental organizations, civil bodies, and other lobby groups are also putting pressure on governments to ensure the success in incorporating all the differing starting positions from cites around the world’s developed countries. Emerging economies and the developing world are also included in this process (Moore 1995).
The organizations are also trying to find new partners to add on the existing ones in national governments. The main aim of this reason is to address community concerns. It is very clear that all the stake holders who include the government, civil watchdogs, and non governmental organizations must be involved in the issue of climate change so that success can be achieved in this sector. There must be a connection in the work being done at the community level with the international process, especially by sharing news with the media. The media includes that of local, regional, national and international levels. It is also important for all the stakeholders to compile and share excellent examples in such a way that these can be integrated into international debates and be used for motivation of others actors.
Heat waves are periods of excessive warmth that are characterized by little or no air movement. The lack of air movement prevents the heat from being cooled. It therefore becomes very difficult for people and animals to cool themselves. Heat waves are dangerous because, since there are no winds to cool down the radiation from the sun, most of the heat is trapped near the ground at relatively lower levels. The heat waves cause stress on the body because the body absorbs more heat than it radiates. Thus, people or animals are not able to cool their bodies thereby increasing their body temperatures, increasing breathing rate and subsequently increasing the pulse.
The heat also causes loss of water from the body. This causes the blood to become thicker thereby causing heat stroke. The other effects of heat waves are heat cramps. Heat cramps are pains in the muscles that are caused by heavy exertions especially during the times of heat waves (Australian Government, Attorney-General’s Department. 2011). They are actually the diagnostic characteristics of the presence of excessive heat. The excessive heat decreases the amount of water in the blood, causing the blood to be thicker. This is actually the main reason why most heat waves are characterized by people having shocks.
Lack of treatment of such people can lead to heat stroke due to excessive rise in body temperature. Heat stroke is caused by failure of the body temperature control system. Heat waves can also cause heat stress to animals as well as in plants. In the case of plants, they lose heir water and wither. They can then die afterwards if the rate of transpiration is higher than the rate of water absorption (Klinenberg 2002).
One of the most recent heat wave disasters to hit the United States took place for a weak in July 1995, in Chicago. The combined heat and humidity made the temperatures feel like it was 1200 F. Many city residents were affected by the heat waves toll. Most people who had no air conditioners in their homes ran fans and opened windows to the circulation of hot uncomfortable air. As if not enough, those people who had air conditioners began to overload the power grid thereby causing loss of power in some of the neighborhoods. Children became dehydrated and nauseous. Firefighters had to horse the children down.
Other effects of the heat waves include the buckling of city roads and hospitalization of Chicago city residents for heat related treatment. Most of the people who never made it hospital died thereby adding the number of deaths to 1,177 people. It is worth noting that in the United States, heat waves are the largest weather related killer. This is mainly because people are not informed or prepared. Also, in urban areas, due to the fear of crime, people may not open windows for proper ventilation. People need to be properly prepared for such adverse moments. It is also important for people to check on the vulnerable neighbors such as children and the elderly. Another important thing to note is the presence of drought caused by the heat waves (Goldstein 2006).
Weather and health
Weather can produce an effect on health in various ways. To begin with, changes in some elements of weather can alter the body’s physiological processes. Research has shown that the arrival of a cold front with an accompanying rise in barometric pressure and a fall in temperature could produce profound physiological effects, with alterations in blood pressure, blood acidity and blood sugar levels. Also, a repeated adjustment of this sort due to a sequence of varying weather conditions are actually fatiguing and so predisposed to disease. The effects of this sort might be expected to influence all sorts of diseases, mental as well as physical.
Weather changes might produce purely local alterations in the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, such as drying, or swelling, or a stimulus to the secretion of mucus. These changes may affect susceptibility to invasion by microbes. The weather can also influence the behavior of individuals or groups so as to favor or check the spread of infection. For instance, when cold weather comes, people shut the windows, and so greatly reduce the amount of air change.
This has the effect of increasing the chances of spread of infections in closed rooms. This is because an infected person may cough or talk out the microbes that are later dispersed in the air and remain in the room for a considerable amount of time. The other behavioral change cause by weather is evident during hot periods or periods of heat waves. During these periods, people tend to open wide their windows to let in air to their rooms.
There are also instances whereby some diseases come with seasons. For instance, medical studies have shown that deaths due to peptic ulcer are directly connected with the spring season and autumn. Suicide cases are also directly connected with late winters. Cerebrospinal meningitis is also another disease that occurs sporadic in temperate countries although it is epidemic in other countries like Ghana, and other parts of West Africa.
The rise and fall of epidemics in these countries have been directly related to the fall and rise, respectively, of the absolute humidity of the atmosphere. Low absolute humidity is therefore a weather or seasonal character that has been correlated with increased prevalence of several diseases. These diseases include cholera, small pox, and pneumonia. In England, the fall in the indoor absolute humidity has been invoked as the factor that leads to the rising frequency of the common cold.
There is a very close connection between humidity and spread of diseases. And specifically, absolute humidity is more relevant here. This is because absolute humidity measures the drying effect that inspired air has on the respiratory mucus membrane. Low humidity favors the survival of pathogenic bacterial outside the body. There is also a close relation between poliomyetis in Britain to hot weather. The epidemics usually start in early summer and continue to late autumn. There have also been some exceptional impressions that some of the worst epidemics have been recorded during the hotter summers. The fog episode in the December of 1952, which is thought to have killed 4,000 people, gave a great stimulus to the study of the effects of weather on respiratory diseases and particularly on persons with chronic bronchitis. Earlier studies indicated that fog, coupled with massive atmospheric pollution with irritant substances could have serious results to the health of a person.
Solutions to climate change
Green house gases are responsible for causing global warming. Global warming has caused a lot of climate change in the past couple of decades. Since global warming has diverse negative effects to the environment on the planet, there needs to be solutions to these problems. The solutions offered must range from political solutions, government policies, private sector policies, media, individual initiatives, and non governmental organizations (Serrano 2009).
There must be an assurance of formation of an agreement that supports the solutions to these problems. Governments must therefore decide knowingly on the kinds of measures to take in averting this crisis. This is because emissions of green house gases have continued to grow exponentially thereby causing rise in sea levels. Since scientists have already done their job of alerting the governments, it remains the responsibility of these governments to offer political solutions alongside economic solutions (Lomborg 2010).
Solutions to climate change require rigorous efforts from the governments, industries and the general public. The main solutions include foregoing the use of fossil fuels (Ryker & Hall 2007). In this solution, burning of coal, oil and natural gas must be stopped in order to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide and other gases. This is the biggest challenge to most governments because all the governments depend in one way or the other, on fossil fuel products to drive their economies.
Oil is therefore the lubricant of the global economy. There have been solutions to this problem with the introduction of renewable energy sources. They include alternative energy sources such as nuclear energy, geothermal energy, biofuels, solar and wind power. Nuclear energy has challenges because although it does not produce significant green house emission, the power source produces harmful radiation to the atmosphere and can therefore affect the environment negatively.
Infrastructure needs to be upgraded world over in order to reduce green house emission. Investing in good roads will increase the efficiency of automobiles and thus reduce the amount of green house emission. Cement manufacturing is also another major source of green house gas emission. The reduction in the use of cement, copper, and other mining activities is an important step that will go a long way to alleviate the amount of green house gases emitted in the atmosphere. Thus, energy efficient buildings and improved mineral processing by using alternative energy sources can help reduce the amount of emission of these gases (Scientific American 2011).
The other solution to global warming is by residents moving closer to work. This will reduce the transportation distance and hence reduce the amount of pollution in the atmosphere. Reducing the travel distance can also help airplanes to reduce their emission. Buying less stuff will also cut back on consumption thereby reducing the amount of fuel used. This will further lead to the reduction of the amount of fuel used to manufacture foodstuff and subsequently reduce the amount of green house gas emission. People must also learn how to think green. For instance, one should go for a vehicle that lasts longer and have the least impact to the environment (Pew Center on Global Climate Change 2001).
People should also focus on being efficient because one can do great things by using very little. For instance, driving more efficiently, proper car maintenance and switching off lights when it is daytime can help reduce the amount of fuel used. Eating smart is also another way of being efficient in energy. For instance, protein foods require a lot of vegetation and fuel to produce, while vegetable foods do not need a lot of fuel to produce. Most protein foods are actually transported miles and miles away before they reach the desired market. It is thus quite appropriate to say that vegetarians contribute less to global warming than other people who eat proteins.
Cutting down trees reduces the amount of carbon sink in the atmosphere. People should stop cutting down trees because timber harvesting does not help in reducing the amount of carbon dioxide produced in the atmosphere. There must be improved agricultural practices that also include recycling processes.
Buying used goods can also help to reduce green house gas emission. It is also important to unplug electric equipment from the mains. This is because most of these equipment use a lot more energy when off than when they are on (Staden 2010). It is also in order for people to purchase more energy efficient gadgets. This will reduce the amount of electricity being used and subsequently reduce the amount of fossil fuel in use. A good example is the use of fluorescent lamps instead of the conventional incandescent bulbs.
It is also important to explore other alternative sources of fuel. These alternatives must be environmentally friendly (Solomon & Luzardis 2009). They must also be capable of being reused. Biofuels, solar, wing and geothermal energy can be good alternatives of sources of energy (Scientific American 2011).
Case studies of the use of clean energy
A case study of the Dyfi community renewable energy project indicates that the project began in the year 1998. This project is in the United Kingdom and is involved with the use of solar energy to produce electricity. It is funded by the European commission, the Welsh development agency and the Shell Better Britain campaign. Local private sectors have also invested in the project that aims at using renewable energy sources for sustainable economic growth. The project also aims at reaching to all the 12,000 residents in the community. It also aims at encouraging people to engage in issues concerning energy, improve the understanding and support of renewable energy sources. This initiative is a good example of a small scale project that can actually decrease the amount of green house gases being emitted in the atmosphere (Guardian.co.uk 2011).
Another case study is that of the Exelon –Conergy solar energy center in Fairless Hills. It is actually becoming one of the largest projects in the East of Arizona. It is being supported by the state government and private sectors. This project aims at using the solar energy to produce clean power. The electricity produced by this project is sufficient to provide all the necessary energy services in a medium scale. It is also a perfect example of a project that contributes largely in the production of clean energy that does not cause global warming (Conergy 2011).
Recommendations and conclusions
Climate change is a long term phenomenon in which there is a significant change in the weather patterns. This happens over long periods that range from decades to centuries and even millions of years. Climate change is caused by the emission of greenhouse gases. Solutions to climate change require rigorous efforts from the governments, industries and the general public. Finding an alternative to fossil fuels remains the main solution to climate change. Also, governments need to reaffirm their efforts in stopping global warming before it gets out of hand. It is also important to explore other alternative sources of fuel.
These alternatives must be environmentally friendly in order to reduce the amount of green house gas emissions. The other solution to global warming is by residents moving closer to work. This will reduce the transportation distance and hence reduce the amount of pollution in the atmosphere. Cutting down trees reduces the amount of carbon sink in the atmosphere. People should stop cutting down trees because timber harvesting does not help in reducing the amount of carbon dioxide produced in the atmosphere.
There must be improved agricultural practices that also include recycling processes. Buying used goods can also help to reduce green house gas emission. There are many projects in various parts of the world that aim at reaching to all the 12,000 residents in the community. These projects also aim at encouraging people to engage in issues concerning energy, improve the understanding and support of renewable energy sources. The initiatives of these projects are good examples of small scale projects that can actually decrease the amount of green house gases being emitted in the atmosphere.
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