Globalwarming has been one of the most popular and controversial topics inthe contemporary human society. It primarily underlines thecontinuous and unequivocal increase in the average temperature of theclimate system of the earth. For the past couple of decades, a largeproportion of global warming has been taking place in the oceans.However, in spite of the dominant role of the oceans in energystorage, global warming has also been used to underline the rise inaverage temperature of the sea and air at the surface of the earth.
Whatcauses global warming?
Globalwarming has taken place primarily as a result of changes in thecomposition of the earth’s atmosphere. In demonstrating theimportance of the atmosphere, scholars have used the example of themoon and compared it with the earth. It is well noted that the earthand the moon are in more or less the same distance from the sun.However, even if the moon was to have oxygen and other lifesupporting elements that the earth has, it would still not supporthuman life (Haldar38). This is because it lacks the atmosphere, in which case it isscorched directly by the sun, leading to high temperatures during theday and extremely low temperatures at night. In the case of theearth, the atmosphere protects it from direct sunlight in which caseits temperatures are relatively moderate.
However,recent times have seen an increase in the amounts of carbon dioxideamong other gases in the atmosphere. It is well noted that the gasesrise to the ozone layer and prevent heat from the earth’s surfacefrom escaping. This means that after the earth has been scorched bythe sun, the heat thus generated would not get out of the atmosphererather, it would be trapped between the ozone layer and the earth(Haldar28). This causes an increase in the earth’s temperatures both inthe short-term and the long-term.
Evidencefor the Occurrence of
Unfortunately,while global warming is a considerably serious issue especially withregard to the existence of human beings, there has been controversyabout whether it has really been taking place. While there may bevarying opinions, there exists substantial evidence for itsoccurrence.
First,there has been a considerable increase in the surface temperatureover the last few decades or even centuries. It is well noted thatthere have been fluctuations in the temperature of the earththroughout the history of the globe as a result of the geologicalupheavals, variations in the production of energy by the sun, or evenslight variations in the orbiting of the planet. However, the lasttwo centuries have seen a considerable and consistent increase in theglobal temperature, primarily, as a result of human activity. Indeed,scientists have noted that the global temperatures have risen byabout 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since the beginning of the 20thcentury. On the same note, scientists have taken samples from thecores of the Antarctic ice so as to measure the levels of methane andcarbon dioxide, and found that they have risen by about 148% and 38%respectively since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in themid 18thcentury.
Inaddition, the increase in the global temperature has been evidencedby the retreating of the snow cover on the earth’s surface. Studiesby the National Ice and Snow Data Center showed that as at July 2011,the levels or amounts of snow that covered the North Hemisphere wasat a record low. Indeed, the studies indicated that the 2011 amountswere about 865 square miles below the 2000 average and about 2.92million square miles below the average in 1979 (Haldar39). This can only be a pointer at a gradual but consistentelimination of the snow cover or retreat of the same. Similarly, theair temperature in the North Pole was recorded to be between 11 and14 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the average. A comparison of the2011 North Pole satellite images with those between 1979 and 2010, itwas evident that the ice and snow coverings were melting at aconsiderably earlier time than in the past. Indeed, sometimes it wasseen to be as early as 60 days. This can only mean that there hasbeen a considerable increase in the temperatures of the earth in therecent times.
Oneof the most commonly cited evidence of global warming is the rise inthe sea levels. Research shows that in the past one century, therehas been a consistent rise in the sea levels at an average rate of1.7mm per year on the basis of observations of tide gauge. Ofparticular note is the fact that the rates of the rising levels ofthe sea have gone even higher to about 3.5 mm per year since 1993(Haldar49). On the same note, recent imaging using the satellite has alsoshown that the sea levels in the globe have been increasing bybetween 4 increase and 8 increases. Once there is an increase in theclimate temperature, some of the heat would be absorbed by the water,which results in the expansion of the ocean (Casper29). Similarly, the increased temperatures would cause the ice tomelt especially in the mountain glaciers, polar caps and theGreenland, which would increase the amount of liquid water in theseas and oceans. Similarly, higher temperatures would also cause thebreaking off of enormous chunks of the Antarctica ice, as was thecase for the Pine Island Glacier that broke off in July 2013.Researchers and scientists have painted a considerably grim pictureover this issue and stated that if nothing is done to lower the rateat which the sea levels increase, there is a high likelihood thatmajor coastal cities such as London, Miami and New York will bepartially submerged or swamped by 2100 (Maslin39).
Onthe same note, scholars have noted that the increase in the globaltemperatures is at an 800,000-year-old record. Indeed, there havebeen several cases of global warming in the last 10 to 15 millionyears but at considerably lower rates than the ones observedrecently. Scientists have trapped air bubbles at the core of theAntarctic Ice that has recorded close to 800,000 years of theatmospheric history of the earth. In this timeframe, the researchshowed that the globe experienced a fluctuation of between 170 and300 parts per million of carbon dioxide (Maslin49). This is equivalent to about 35% of the amounts of carbon dioxidethat has been emitted since the advent of the industrial revolution.Indeed, the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) hasstated that the current levels are close to 400 ppm with about 80% ofthe increase in carbon dioxide emanating from the burning of fossilfuels, while the remaining 20% is attributed to modern agricultureand deforestation among other factors. The researchers have notedthat this sharp increase in the level of carbon dioxide is thehighest ever since the 800,000 years (Haldar77).
Lastly,there has been an increase in the ocean acidification, as well asextreme events in the recent times. Research shows that the numbersof events recording high temperatures in the United States has beenon the rise, while the numbers of the recorded events of lowtemperatures have been decreased in the last six decades (Archer35). The United States, like other parts of the globe has also seenan increase in the number of events involving intense rainfall amongother cases of extreme weather conditions or natural events. Further,the entire globe has seen an increase in the acidity of the surfaceocean waters by around 30 percent since the advent of the IndustrialRevolution in the 18thcentury (Maslin67). Scholars and researchers have noted or opined that the increasehas been the direct result of human beings emitting increased amountsof carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is eventually absorbedby the oceans. Indeed, research has shown that the amounts or levelsof carbon dioxide that get absorbed by the ocean’s upper layer havebeen increasing by approximately 2 billion tons every year (Maslin77).
HowHuman Beings have caused ?
Whileit has been widely acknowledged that global warming is a seriousissue, there have been disagreements regarding the real cause of thephenomenon. This is especially with regard to the role that humanbeings have played either in bringing it up or even accentuating itseffects. For some researchers, global warming represents a phase in aperiodic trend that occurs once in every few centuries. Indeed, theygo ahead to quote statistics so as to demonstrate this notion. Whilethere may be disagreements in the same, human beings have been theprimary cause of global warming.
Oneof the human activities that is responsible for the increase inglobal temperatures has been the burning of fossil fuels. Scientificresearch has shown that for hundreds of thousands of years,variations in temperatures have been following the same trends as theconcentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Since the advent of theIndustrial Revolution, the burning of natural gas, oil and coal hasbeen responsible for the emission of approximately 500 billion tonsof carbon dioxide. It is well noted that about 50 percent of thiscarbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere (Archer45). Of particular note, is the fact the carbon dioxide is thebiggest contributor to the recent global warming trends. Since theadvent of Industrial revolution in 1750, the concentration of carbondioxide in the atmosphere has risen by about 31%. At the same time,the temperatures at the earth surface have been at their highestsince that time.
Inaddition, human beings have been responsible for massivedeforestation since the Industrial Revolution. Scientific researchhas shown that trees and other forms of vegetation are responsiblefor eliminating an enormous volume of carbon dioxide in theatmosphere and purifying the air. Unfortunately, there has beenimmense deforestation since the industrial revolution so as to createsome space for constructions, human settlement, farming and otheractivities. In this regard, there has been a reduction in thecapacity of the existing forest cover to clear the carbon dioxide inthe atmosphere, which, essentially, means that there would be anincrease in the residual carbon dioxide in the same (Maslin78). This is worsened by the increase in the production of carbondioxide as a result of the varied human activities such as theheightened use of machinery, fossil fuels, coal and other fuels.Similarly, there has been an increase in the burning of trees andother forest covers, which eventually adds to the amount of carbondioxide that goes to the atmosphere. Eventually, the residual carbondioxide eliminates the ozone layer and prevents the heat from thesurface of the earth from escaping into the atmosphere (Maslin78).
PossibleSolutions to the
Oneof the key strategies for combating global warming revolves aroundmaking smart investments in energy efficient, green industries.Increasing the investments on clean energy industries like solar andwind, alongside energy efficient programs would lead the globe out ofthe crisis and into an extremely new and clean energy global economy.Increasing the investments on wind turbines and solar panelsmanufacture would be beneficial to individuals and the economy atlarge. Such investment on clean energy technology would result inmore jobs without increasing federal debt, while also assisting endthe global dependence or addiction on oil while ushering in a secureenergy future.
Further,the establishment of walkable communities close to transportationhubs to substitute far-flung car-dependent suburbs would reduce theuse of fossil fuels and natural gas. This should be complemented byincreased investment in and expansion of public transport systemssuch as commuter trains so as to give individuals real choices fortransportation. This suggestion becomes even more viable when it isconsidered that the transport sector has been the highest consumer offossil fuels and natural gas (Archer56). The increase in personal transport modes has increased thedemand and consumption of fossil fuel. Encouraging and puttingmeasures that will allow for the use of public modes of transportwill reduce the amount of fossil fuels required, thereby reducing theamount of carbon dioxide and methane that is emitted into theatmosphere (Casper38).
Lastly,efforts should be made to increase the use of smarter cars. It isimperative that the oil addiction that has characterized thecontemporary human society is broken and coupled with the retoolingof plants that would manufacture fuel-efficient cars such as plug-inhybrids. It is encouraging to note that there has been increasedawareness of the devastating effects of global warming not only onthe current generation but also in the future. This has resulted inincreased demand for fuel-efficient cars. High-mileage cars use lessgasoline, which would ensure that less money is used in purchasingfuel (Casper39). Increased investment and retooling of automobile manufacturingplants would assist carmakers in the United States to meet theincreasing demand for the fuel-efficient cars thereby enhancing theircompetitiveness in the global market and even heightening theirprofitability. Research has shown that if cars in the United Statesare made more efficient in the next one decade, there will be areduction in the global warming pollution by over 350 million metrictons, while saving about 2 million barrels of oil every day (Casper69).
Archer,David. GlobalWarming: Understanding the Forecast.Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub, 2007. Print
Casper,Julie K. ChangingEcosystems: Effects of .New York: Infobase Pub, 2010. Print
Haldar,Ishita. GlobalWarming: The Causes and Consequences.New Delhi: Mind Melodies, 2011. Print.
Maslin,Mark. GlobalWarming: Very Short Introduction.New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. Print.