Global warming is largely caused by humans. Each piece of coal and every liter of oil or gas we burn increase the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. As an ever-thicker blanket, these gases wrap around the earth and increases heat intensity that eventually leads to global warming. Carbon dioxide (CO 2) is the main greenhouse gas that contributes towards global warming. In other words, the main cause of climate change is carbon dioxide (CO 2) according to numerous scientific research findings.
The gas is responsible for more than 60 percent of global warming. In the last 420,000 years, CO2 levels in the atmosphere were lower than it is today. The main sources of CO 2 are coal, oil and gas. About 97 percent of the emissions in industrialized nations emanate from combustion of these fossil fuels for energy. In addition, approximately 31.5 billion tons of CO 2 is annually blown into the atmosphere (Urpelainen 877). The latter is equivalent to more than 900 tons of carbon dioxide being blown into the atmosphere each second. These are alarming levels through greenhouse gases are finding their way into the atmosphere. Something must be done to reverse the process if we truly care about sustainability of our planet.
We have to stay under two degrees Celsius The global agencies on environment are convinced that the increase in temperature must be well below two degrees Celsius in order to avert dangerous climatic changes. It has already been demonstrated that even a rise of two degrees poses a number of impacts to coral reefs and Polar Regions. This research project explores whether global warming is a reality. The paper also proposes solutions to the menace of global warming and associated changes in climate.
Is global warming a reality?
We cannot dispute the fact that we currently live in an age of global warming. Although some opponents of global warming phenomenon are adamant that the concept is not real, any slight rise in temperature can be easily measured. This implies that two key statements can be explored (Greenberg and Truelove 821). First, the temperature has increased in the lower atmosphere over the last one hundred years with a margin of 0.7 degrees. Second, the last decade was the warmest since the beginning of the climate record.
It is also debatable whether scientists are well advised to comply with the wishes of the policy makers to quantitatively provide precise statements. A general statement that an increase of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere leads to a warming of the climate is likely to be controversial from a scientific perspective. Precise statements of the form that a reduction of CO2 emissions by exactly some percent age might also limit global warming to a maximum degree. However, giving the complexity of the global climate system is quite open to doubt (Urpelainen 879).
The greenhouse effect
Even after attending several international summits on climate change and global warming (such as the Kyoto Protocol), major players in the emission of greenhouse gases are still adamant to accept the reality of greenhouse effect (Sharpe 124). Adequate scientific research studies have confirmed that a ‘warming’ (or greenhouse) effect is generated in the atmosphere once gullible gases such as CO2 flow in excess. Needles to say, the concept of greenhouse effect does not require rocket science to understand. CO2 is very readily permeable for a large frequency range of the solar light.
However, it absorbs wavelengths range of thermal radiation very well. Increases in the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere have impeded the collection of sunlight to a small extent. When sunlight heats the earth’s surface, it emits energy in the outer space in the form of thermal radiation. This radiation is partially blocked by the additional CO2 in the atmosphere resulting into intense heating effect. This is exactly the same process that takes place on a glass roof of a greenhouse.
Arguments of the critics
Critics mainly refer to the fact that the currently observed climate change is not a modern phenomenon. Long before industrial CO2 came into play, comparable greenhouse effects had already occurred. The best-known example is the so-called Medieval Warm Period that occurred about 1000 years ago (Singh 1916). Numerous indications point to a significant warming during this period. The height limit for agricultural land use increased during this period by about 200 m while Greenland was ice-free and colonized.
Another important argument of the critics is that human factors aligned to greenhouse effect have consequences that counteract warming. Human activities lead to emission of small particles such as soot into the atmosphere thereby blocking parts of the incident sunlight. In spite of these arguments, global warming is still an issue worth discussing both at the regional and international levels.
Can solar activity be a natural cause of global warming? The fluctuating intensity of solar activity and climate influence on earth’s surface has been under scientific study for a long time. The latter might be surprising at first because local eruptions of plasma on the sun’s surface and the total energy budget of the sun play a negligible role. In this context, it is important to understand that radiation of the sun depends only on the temperature at the surface. The solar surface has a temperature of about 5000 degrees thrown into the corona plasma and is more than a million degrees hot (Urpelainen 876). Even a small increase of the sun’s activity can significantly affect the sun’s outer temperature and subsequently, the energy radiated.
It has now been established beyond doubt that the Earth’s climate is continually warming. The fact that climate is influenced by industrial activities can not be seriously disputed. Based on current knowledge, natural causes also play a significant role and the human impact might be a little overrated in the public debate (Simpson, Shaw and Seager 2491). Climate change will continue to pose devastating consequences to the environment. Owing to the scarce resources, the number of wars and regional conflicts will inevitably increase. We should not continue to ignore the reality of global warming. Scientists have been arguing for more than 20 years about whether the warming actually favors conflicts.
Nonetheless, some researchers link conflict and global warming while others do not see nay relationship between the two. Why should there be such diverse viewpoints even among the body of scientific professionals who are supposed to offer conclusive findings? Although some researchers believe that global warming minimizes the chances of conflict, there is no solid evidence to support the same. Can the frequency of regional and international conflicts be worsened as a result of rapid rise in global temperature? This might still be a research question to ponder about although past data on conflict and climate change can still be used to draw valid conclusions.
A natural greenhouse effect is vital
We live on a planet that resembles a greenhouse. Our atmosphere acts like a glass ceiling. The so-called “greenhouse” gases (GHG) capture and retain heat. Thanks to these gases because the normal temperature of our planet is at a comfortable average of 15 ° C (Martimort and Sand-Zantman 375). Without these gases, the average global temperature would be unbearably cold at -18 ° C. These findings are research-based and have been unanimously validated in several independent scientific studies.
If indeed these figures depict the reality of our planet, why are policy makers and environmental scientists not reading from the same script regarding global warming and climate change? It appears that selfish and skewed interests have been driving the global warming debate for almost 3 decades. These GHGs therefore retain more heat. As a result, the average global temperature of the planet has been rising steadily (+ 0.74 ° C since 1850). This phenomenon causes a disruption of the climate.
Global warming is like a big boat. Once launched, it takes time to brake or change direction. Did you know that the life of CO 2 in the atmosphere is about 100 years? This will make it more difficult to reverse the effects of greenhouse gases. The amount of greenhouse gas emissions is expected to go up in 2015 according to latest estimates by the scientific community. Worse still, the changes may be irreversible.
Impacts and solutions
We cannot deny the fact that global warming has very worrying results on humans and the environment. Warming of the land surface and melting glaciers in high latitudes coupled with a decrease or disappearance of the ice in some areas in the Arctic and Antarctic have led to elevation of sea level and subsequent flooding of coastal areas (Fowler 56). Due to the increase in water temperature, the expansion of the hot water disrupts the ecosystem and extinction of species because of numerous diseases infectious. More frequent heavy rains and dense cyclones, typhoons and hurricanes with winds and heavy rainfall and flooding causes serious injuries and damage leading to declining drinking water.
According to the 2009 report by the Humanitarian Forum, global warming kills 300,000 people per year (Martimort and Sand-Zantman 378). Most countries within the southern atmosphere comprise about 325 million poorest people in the world who are among the worst affected by climate change. Hurricanes, cyclones, floods, torrential rains, droughts, rising sea levels are threatening many countries and billions of men and women.
Unless proper models to address global warming are adopted, the human population might also be extinct in the next one million years or so. As it stands now, the prospects of increased temperature will continue to vary between 1.8 ° C and 4 ° C by the end of the century. However, this increase will not be evenly distributed over the planet especially towards the North Pole. The average temperatures of the last decade increased 2 times faster than the global level. Such a vast body of evidence should refute the evidence that global warming is a sham.
Some critics of global warming and climate change argue that carbon dioxide is not a significant greenhouse gas. They are emphatic that only traces of it occur in the Earth’s atmosphere and has its capacity to trap heat rays will be exhausted soon. The same critics are emphatic that there is no evidence of carbon dioxide ever making history in the earth’s warming temperatures. Rather, the reverse is true in the sense that higher temperatures have led to increased release of carbon dioxide (Greenberg and Truelove 824).
While we may be persuaded by such arguments, such critics do not have profound evidence based on scientific research that can refute the realities of carbon dioxide and global warming. The most important question to ponder in this discussion should be cause and effect of heat waves on earth’s surface and immediate atmosphere. Does it mean that solar radiation is solely responsible for sustained surface warmth?
It might be too early to make conclusive statements about the world’s changing climate. In any case, we may only be experiencing climate variations. However, these variations are equally devastating in the face of humanity and other living things. Whether climate has completely changed or we are merely experiencing cyclical variations should not be an issue of real concern.
The effects of global warming outweigh theoretical debates on climate change that have dominated the global community for some decades. Perhaps, we have wasted a lot of time debating about climate change at the expense of addressing salient issues of global warming and the worrying impacts (Simpson, Shaw and Seager 2491).
If global warming is part of a natural cycle, then we are equally at the receiving of a harsh planet. Gases such as ozone, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and carbon monoxide form a layer of pollutants that are difficult to disperse, causing the famous greenhouse effect (Greenberg and Truelove 822). Since these gases absorb much of the infrared radiation emitted by the Earth, it makes it difficult to disperse heat (Jones 32).
The uncontrolled emission of greenhouse gases on our planet has caused a significant increase in global temperature in recent decades. If man does not take any measures to prevent these climatic changes, the environment may present a number of problems with disastrous lifetime consequences on our planet (Martimort and Sand-Zantman 376).The rise in global temperature can turn deserts into forests or savannas. The Amazon rainforest could be drastically affected and transformed into savannah unles simple but effectyive mechanims are put in place.
After conducting a one yeear longitudinal study, this empirical study concluded that melting of glaciers at the poles of the planet is a reality. The effect is already being noticed and has caused an increase in the level of the ocean waters and harmed the lives of animal species that live in these regions (Milfont 1015).
Awareness on the importance of conserving the environment is perhaps missing in several jurisdictions. This research study offers a platform through the phenomenon of global warming can be taught at all levels in society (Mutlu and Tokcan 264). An increase in temperature may also multiply the number of disease carrying mosquitoes mainly in tropical and equatorial regions. Diseases such as dengue and malaria can kill millions of victims in these areas. These are some of the core lessons that every segment of the population should understand in order to mitigate against global warming.
If the global temperature increases from 2 ° C to 3 ° C, it can melt glaciers. Lack of water may also occur in various parts of the planet in addition to significant decrease of coral reefs. If the increase is from 4 to 5 ° C, we may experience extinction of several species of fish and other marine animals and a decrease in agricultural productivity. Droughts, fires, storms and heat waves may occur frequently Radovanović, Ducić and Mukherjee 1058).
There is urgent need to reduce the use of fossil fuels (gasoline, diesel, kerosene) and increase the use of biofuels (eg biodiesel ) and ethanol. Cars must be adjusted constantly to prevent burning fuel in unregulated manner. The mandatory use of catalytic exhausts for cars, motorcycles and trucks is also prudent. Installation of control greenhouse gas emissions in industrial systems and an increase in the generation of energy through clean, renewable sources suhc as hydro, wind, solar, tidal and nuclear powwer shouild be a priority. Avoid a lot of power generation through thermal power since it uses fossil fuels. Whenever possible, leave your car at home and use the public transport system (buses, subways, trains) or bicycles (Sharpe 123).
Using clean and advanced techniques in agriculture to prevent the emission of carbon can reduce the rapid rise in atmospheric temperature. Besides, implementation of reforestation and afforestation programs especially in large urban centers and construction of buildings which implement systems that aim to conserve energy (use of solar energy for water heating and cooling) can equally act as robust measures against global warming (Simpson, Shaw and Seager 2490).
Increased activity on the sun’s surface causes explosions and high emission of ultraviolet rays. The sun is currently experiencing this phenomenon. The ocean water concentrates the carbon present in large quantities in the atmosphere (Singh 1916). This increases evaporation and concentration of gases in the air, thereby increasing global warming. Some scientists claim that the Earth is going through a period that corresponds to the end of a glacial cycle which began about 2.5 million years ago (these cycles occur from time to time). This might scientifically contribute to the rapid increase in global temperature.
We need to increase the amount of trees that serve as regulators of temperature and reduce burned gases polluting the atmosphere. Second, deforestation is rife especially in developing countries (Urpelainen 877). Owing to less coverage of trees and plants, environmental temperature increases substantially. Urban development without proper planning reduces the green areas in cities and favors the formation of heat islands.
At the international level, proactive steps have been taken to comprehensively address the impacts of global warming. Individual countries should sign the Convention United Nations Framework on Climate Change that calls for limiting global warming of the world. The Convention also includes any legal obligation. The Kyoto Protocol went further by providing stringent commitments. By 2012, industrialized countries were collectively supposed to achieve a level of greenhouse gas emissions less than 5% compared to 1990. However, the Kyoto Protocol was never met. The convention is currently working on a new framework to succeed the Kyoto Protocol. All the industrialized countries should reduce their emissions by 7.5% compared to the reference year of 1990. To achieve this, each country has to develop a climate policy among other measures to curtail global warming.
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