What is Global Warming?
Global warming refers to extreme changes in the Earth’s climate. The term illustrates dramatic increases in atmospheric and water temperatures experienced as a result of growing amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. Humans are responsible for producing these gases via cars, electricity, and factories. The main products of these activities that are to blame for global warming are methane and carbon dioxide; as carbon dioxide, methane, and chlorofluorocarbon compounds go farther and farther into the Earth’s atmosphere, they deplete the ozone layer.
Holes in the ozone are allowing harmful ultra violet rays (that are usually deflected by the ozone layer) to make their way to lower levels of the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases absorb and give off radiation from the UV rays, contributing to extreme temperature conditions.
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Effects of Global Climate Change
Global warming has had extreme effects on the planet. Earth’s average surface temperature has been increasing; since the 1880s, temperature has increased by between 1 and 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit. While this may sound like a small number, it has heavily impacted other aspects of our global ecosystem, and it is continuing to rise at a faster rate. Arctic ice is vanishing and glaciers are melting; as a result, polar bears, penguins, and other animals have begun to suffer.
The recent frequency of heat waves, intense tropical storms, and natural disasters has also been partially attributed to trends in global climate change. Extreme weather will most likely have a negative impact on crops and agriculture. As staple crops become scarcer, they will become more expensive. Such products include rice, wheat, corn, and soy, which are also utilized in animal feed; the result: prices of many other types of food will increase as well, making all food relatively more expensive.
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The Kyoto Protocol is an international effort to combat global climate change. Developed at the United Nations’ Convention on Climate Change in 1997, this treaty is aimed at capping the number of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere and it intends to hold nations accountable to their environmental commitments. 191 countries have signed and ratified the treaty. The only country that has not ratified is the United States.
Perhaps the most well-known piece of legislation in the US is the Clean Air Act. The Clean Air Act was created to decrease the number of air pollutants being released into the atmosphere, subsequently having a positive impact on air quality and contributing to the general health of the population. Amendments have been made to the Clean Air Act over time to account for ozone depletion and acid rain. The US also utilizes regulations on fuel, energy, and water in order to help the environment.
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Combating Global Warming—Being Green
In today’s society, the color green has become synonymous with environmental friendliness. Governments, businesses, and individuals can all contribute towards mitigating climate change, and in many cases, all of these groups have been working hard to become greener. Some towns use monetary incentives in order to motivate their citizens to become more environmentally conscious and friendly. The Federal Government also has incentives in place for businesses to encourage them to reduce their carbon footprints. On the other end of the environmental responsibility spectrum, the government uses taxes to discourage and penalize businesses that are particularly harmful to the environment.
Switching to renewable energy sources can help to protect the environment from damage that results from burning fossil fuels for energy. Scientific developments and the spread of wind, solar, and geothermal power are helping to make the world less carbon-dependent; they also help by producing less methane in the process of providing energy. On the whole, these sources of energy are more sustainable and less harmful to the planet. However, there are some sources of greenhouse gases that are harder for mankind to combat. Many animals emit methane from their bodies during food consumption and digestion-related processes.
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“Carbon footprints” are used to measure the impact that certain individuals, products, and activities have on global warming. This metric attempts to quantify the amount of greenhouse gases that are being produced. Greenhouse gases are comprised of many elements and compounds, but Carbon Dioxide is often used as a proxy for these elements in calculations and discussions related to carbon footprints.
Almost every activity that occurs in the course of a single day has some impact on the environment. Transportation, electricity, and manufacturing are often highly detrimental and are major areas where people, businesses, and countries can cut down on their carbon footprints. Understanding the size of carbon footprints and what contributes to them allows each participant in the global environment to take action to reduce it.
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During the last century, more inventions were made than during the whole of history (Collins 64). Humanity flew into space, tamed atomic energy, found a way to cure many diseases that were considered incurable, and almost every day is marked by a new breakthrough. However, there is a downside. For a long period of time, people did not think about the consequences of their exponential development. Vast tracts of forests were cleared for agricultural purposes, thousands of tons of carbon dioxide dissolved in the ozone, hundreds of species of animals and plants became extinct each year. The rapid development of humanity renders a bad influence on Earth. One of these influences is climate change.
It is not a secret that a couple of hundreds of years ago, the climate on Earth was colder than now. Many scientists warn about global warming—a process of a constant increase of the annual temperature across the whole planet. For the first time, its surge was recorded in the last quarter of the 20th century, and since that time, the average temperature had increased by 0.7° (Freanz 237). The further one goes from the equator, the more obvious climate changes become.
What are the possible consequences of global warming? According to the recent reports from the United Nations, during the 21st century, the average temperature will rise more than 1, 4-1, 8° and will cause Arctic glaciers to melt faster (Ramus 24). The sea level will increase by 10 cm. It does not seem to possess any danger, but in reality, it will become a serious threat for those countries that are located not too high above sea level. Some specialists predict that until the end of the current century, the ocean will rise a meter on the whole. The Netherlands, Great Britain, Japan, as well as the islands of Oceania and the Caribbean basin will be at risk. 30-40% of species and ecosystems will become extinct, as their habitat will change much faster than they adapt. If the temperature increases by one degree Celsius, dramatic modifications to forests’ composition will occur. Some species have already begun to react to climate changes. For example, migratory birds start to fly away later in autumn and to come back much earlier in spring.
Global warming will negatively affect precipitation. In arid regions, such as Central Asia, Australia, and the Mediterranean, South Africa, and so on the situation will become even more complicated due to the reduction of precipitation (Reese 45). At the same time, some regions may suffer from abnormal cyclones and the heavy rains that have become much more frequent. The recent hurricane in North America may be a demonstration of these processes. Such changes will have an adverse effect on agriculture. Due to warming, it may improve in Northern Europe, but in Southern Europe, Africa, and many regions of Asia, high temperatures, droughts, floods, and soil erosion will cause irreparable damage.
Specialists predict that yields in Africa and Asia will decrease, and Australia and New Zealand will face a great lack of drinking water (Opus 235). A risk of floods in Europe will increase, and the eastern coast of the United States will undergo increased numbers of hurricanes and soil erosion. In addition, global warming will also create a favorable environment for diseases, so a dramatic growth of epidemics and pandemics can be expected (Lank 87).
Scientists have discovered that Earth is warming much faster than it did before, and there is convincing evidence that it is humanity who is responsible for that. At the moment, research that aims to find solutions for this problem is being conducted. Every country should take action to prevent causing more damage to our planet, as the consequences will be serious for every citizen of Earth.
Collins, Richard. Exponential Inventions. New York: Penguin, 2007. Print.
Freanz, Jessica. Rising Above the Roof. Portland: Billows Press, 2012. Print.
Ramus, John. UN Predictions and Their Consequences. Seattle: Rain City Publishing, 2008. Print.
Reese, Veronica. Arid Regions and Global Warming. New York: Forrestor, 2007. Print.
Opus, Helen. Drinking Water is All We Got. Boston: Academics Plus, 2010. Print.
Lank, Harold. Epidemics and Antiseptics: Cross-Cultural Global Warming. Atlanta: Atlanta University Press, 2011. Print.
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