Global warming refers to the increase in the average global temperatures which is caused by greenhouse effects that arise due to greenhouse gases. Energy from the sun heats the earth’s surface and some is absorbed as some is radiated back in to space. The greenhouse gases, which include carbon dioxide, nitric acid and methane form a layer or “blanket” between the earths’s surfaces to rise. The gases can penetrate into the earth and into the atmosphere and they control how much energy is retained or radiated through infrared radiation. Other greenhouse gases include fluorinated industrial gases like hydrofluorocarbors (HFC’s), Perfluorocarbons (PFC’s) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). Water vapor is also considered a greenhouse gas. Although the greenhouse effect is beneficial because it ensures that the earth is not very cold by retaining some heat on the earth’s surface, influencing it negatively would be harmful. According to a report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC), which was carried out by scientists from the UK Hadley Center and funded by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs showed that human activity is the primary cause of observed climate changes.
Human beings influence the global climate when they emit key greenhouse gases, which include carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. Industries that emit such gases in their production process contribute to the global climate change. (http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/climate)
According to a documentary aired on the National Geographic Channel in Britainon August 9th 2003 titled ‘what’s up with the weather’ the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were at repay high levels in the past 450,000 years.
There has been a long debate in the U.S on whether the current climate change is as a result of human activities. With some arguing that global warming is politicized to attract attention of the masses.
Supporters of the idea that global warming causes climate changes and is all due to man’s activity face criticism and ridicule. Despite the allegations global warming effects are here with us we can not deny. Butterflies are moving towards the North where there are higher attitudes and there are concerns that the diversity of wildlife could decline in future. Long term trends towards earlier spring are being observed as flowering and reproduction of plants and birds’ species has reduced their long processes. All these are evidences that climate is changing which can be attributed to global warming. Although man cannot change his behavior at least he can try to adapt to fit in well into the environment without harming it. (Houghton, 2005)
Global warming is caused by natural factors and human activities. It is observed that after industrialization came about there has been more warming in the earth’s crust. Therefore man’s activities in contributing to global warming cannot be underscored. He may directly lead to global warming by releasing directly into the atmosphere the greenhouse gases for instance when burning coal or he can do it indirectly by using products that promote emission of greenhouse gases. (Hardy, 2003)
In the face of globalization energy is very important. Most industries are adopting electricity as a source of energy as it is clean, efficient and convenient. In 2002 about 40% of the carbon dioxide emission in the atmosphere was as a result of burning fossil fuels for generating electricity. Coal burning accounts for 93% of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere and thus contributes to global warming. (Micheal, 2005)
The transportation sector also contributes to global warming. According to the 2004USemission Inventory vehicles with poor gas mileage contributed a lot to global warming .This occurs as gasoline is being heated in internal combustion of cars and light trucks. This sector contributes to approximately 20% ofUStotal emissions of carbon dioxide. Aviation industry also contributes to global warming to a tune of 3.5%. This is predicted to be 5 times more by 2050 by the United Nation Intergovernmental panel due to the fact that the flow of air transport is increasing with lowered fares because of competition. Light duty vehicles like SUV’s and minivans sales increase impacted more on the greenhouse effects since driving intensified due to the affordability this led to demand for more gas.
Man constructs building structures that takes up heat and takes long to cool down contributing more heat reserved in the earth’s surface. Building more structure translates into retaining more heat and this eventually leads to global warming.
Land use practices contribute to global warming. Trees are vital in ensuring natural regulation of CO2 in the atmosphere. They also form a cover that affects the radiation process by determining what levels of heat will be retained or radiated. Human settlement is a reason for continued deforestation. As population levels rises more and more forests are cleared. Trees are also cut for logging purposes. Trees absorb CO2 from decaying trees and plants. They provide timber for construction purposes they are also cut to paper production. Deforestation contributes to approximately 25% of CO2 in to the atmosphere. Today there is much wastage of papers for instance toilet paper and serviettes this leads to global warming due to the fact that more trees will be cut for paper production. This eventually leads to global warming.
Man’s activity at home can also cause global warming. Technology has brought about invention of electronic devices all of which require energy and electricity is mostly the preferred. The technology is useful as it ensures that time and energy is saved by a large proportion. Appliances like lawnmowers and heaters in houses precipitate the burning of more coal to provide electricity and this leads to global warming. http://www.epa.gov/climate/climatechange/emmisions/ind-home.html
Composition of waste products by man causes the production of methane, which is a greenhouse gas. According to U.S Environmental Protection Agency each pound of trash thrown away emits approximately 0.94 pounds of CO2 during decomposition.
Global warming occurs naturally due to the amount of heat produced by the sun. Changing variations in the earth’s orbit around the sun may affect the time and amount of solar energy received on the earth. This will affect the amount of energy reflected and absorbed. Orbital variations are believed to be behind the ice ages. Aerosols which are fine particles and droplets that are suspended into the earth’s surface affect the amount of solar energy that is reflected or absorbed and are thus contributors of global warming. The social effects caused by extreme effects of global warming include poverty and changing attitudes due to shock. Exposure to such calamities is destructive to man’s health as it causes death, injury as well as stress related disorders. Standards of living lower for the affected people as their houses and means of earning are destroyed. At the times of such disasters they are deprived of social needs. Social evils could arise as such calamities create disorder in society. Due to disaster effects the affected may in changing topography cause disputes among nations. (O’Hare at al, 2005).
The effects of global warming are detrimental and it’s feared to be contributing to current climate changes. It is associated with the frequent floods, drought and hurricane patterns that are facing the world today.
According to the World Metrological Organization the 90’s had higher temperatures and are thus considered the warmest decade. Extreme weather patterns are believed to result from the warming of the climate. More hurricanes and drought are expected to arise due to global warming. There will be longer spells of heat or intense rainfall depending on which part of the earth one is.
Scientists point out that the Northern European region could experience colder weather and the Arctic could begin sending fresher waters to the further South cutting off the Gulf Stream and making countries likeBritainwarmer. The Himalayan glaciers are also feared to retreat resulting to water scarcity in the long run. (Hodges, 2000)
Super storms are feared to increase with global warming. The recent case of hurricane in theCaribbeanIslandsand parts of the South Eastern United States is a good example. It led to massive destruction of property resulting from such catastrophic events. Again lives were lost and people’s livelihood was affected with some children rendered orphans and homeless.
Disruptions in temperatures would result to extinction of species of animals and plants, which will not be able to adapt to the new conditions. The overall effect will be massive extinction will lead to environmental crisis. It will also lead to sudden collapse of biological systems.
Global warming can cause a vicious circle in the sense that accumulation of greenhouse gases will destroy the ozone layer which will cause mechanism causing more warming. Again on reaching a certain level huge amount of carbon dioxide trapped in the permafrost causing disastrous effects on the earth’s surface.
The sea levels are also expected to rise as the polar caps begin to melt. This will have detrimental effects on people near coasts or major rivers as will have be displaced.
Climate change could result due to global warming .It is feared that pests and diseases would increase causing negative effects on crops and humanity. Diseases like malaria would result due to flooding especially in less developed countries. Agricultural production could be negatively affected being a threat to food security. Floods for instance will wash away crops while change of climate will have negative implications on crops that are unable to adapt.
Prevention of global warming
Since man is a key contributor he should be at the forefront in the process of curbing global warming. At the individual level people can use alternative sources of energy for their appliances for instance solar energy, which doesn’t have very adverse effects
Burning coal to produce electricity should be replaced by hydroelectric power, wave energy or solar energy which are all environmentally friendly. (Micheal, 2005)
Preserving energy by switching off the unused switches and sockets translates to reduced demand for electricity and burning up of coal. It will be a positive movement in preventing global warming.
Replacing inefficient homes will ensure less wastage to energy loss and properly insulting homes will ensure less wastage of electrical energy.
Buying vehicles with proper gas mileage will ensure that the gas is not lost in the internal combustion heat of cars. Efficient cars promote efficient use of energy thus reducing global warming.
Another cause of global warming is industries that produce nitrous oxide which is an important greenhouse gas. Man creates it during nitric acid production and in nylon productions. Nitric acid is used by man for important use like in fertilizer production and for cars with catalytic converters. Fertilizers are important in agriculture as they boost the production. The fertilizer industry also creates employment in its production, distribution and sale. Human beings therefore have to come to find ways to address the two opposing issues to establish a balance.
Traffic jam contributes to global warming and is caused by family members using different vehicles even when going towards the same direction. This can be reduced by family cars being used to transport all members. Again public transport use will contribute to a greater effect the reduction of global warming. Lesser amount of gas will be used and flow of transport will be manageable. Alternative methods or modes of transport can also be adapted like walking, bicycles, motorbikes or using public transport.
Developing organic farming will reduce the emission of green house gases that would otherwise be produced through fertilizer production.
Introducing other packaging materials rather than nylon paper bags will also reduce global warming effects. This is because production of nylon paper bags produce nitric dioxide, which is a green house gas.
Recycling is also an important act in ensuring that the global temperatures do not rise. It will reduce the production process that results in emission of greenhouse gases. Reduced waste disposal will also reduce global warming as there will be reduced decomposition.
Lack of clear government legislations on illegal logging has contributed to deforestation at higher levels contributing to global warming. If such countries form clear and strict restrictions they would be solving the world at large from increased warming. International companies should be regulated by international environmental rules and regulations to ensure that deforestation and emission of greenhouse gases is reduced
Since poor communities clear forests for cultivation and grazing purposes. The developed countries should assist them so that they do not destroy the environment which results to global effects. Planting more trees will ensure natural CO2 regulation.
Abatement measures will ensure that industries in a country do not carelessly affect the global temperatures by production of greenhouse gases. It will ensure that companies do not make excessive profits at the expense of the environment.
Continued information dissemination about effects and causes of global warming will remove the arrogance or ignorance that could result from lack of such knowledge. Incorporating environmental studies and especially on global warming in the school’s curriculums will see to it that students understand the plight of global warming to mankind at an early age.
Investment in low carbon technologies will go along way in ensuring that the adverse effects of global warming are not felt. It will see to it that the adverse effects of global warming are not felt. It will see to it that lesser greenhouse gases are released in to the atmosphere.
The media can play a vital role in disseminating the important of environmental conservation through changes man’s behaviors. There are those believes that global warming is a wide spread imagined risk.
People should use vehicles that emit lesser amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere “sporty vehicles” should be substituted for cheaper and better efficient ones which emit less carbon dioxide. (http://www.pce.govt.nz/reports/pc-report-glosary.html)
Department for Environment food and Rural Affairs. Climate change: What is climate change? Retrieved on 28th October from http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/climate
US Environmental Protection Agency: Climate change-Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Retrieved on 25th October 2007 from http://www.epa.gov/climate/climatechange/emmisions/ind-home.html
Hardy J.T 2003.Climate change causes effects solutions New York J. Wiley.
Houghton, John Theodore. 2004. Global warming: the complete briefing 3rd ed.CambridgeUniversity.
O’Hare, Greg, John. Sweeney and Rob.Wilby. 2005. Weather, climate and climate change: Human perspectives, Harlow,Eng,New YorkPearson Prentice hall.
Hodges, Glenn. 2000. The New Cold War: Stalking Arctic Climate Change by Submarine. National Geographic Magazine. March, 2000.
Micheal Parfit .2005.Future where will the world get its next energy fix? National Geographic Magazine. August, 2005.