Gerald Meehl of the National Center for Atmospheric Research once said that many people do not realize the amount of commitment placed on global warming and the rise in the sea level. He pointed out that the longer we wait to take action, the more chance we are likely to encounter, and things may get out of control.
Global warming is the average rise of the temperatures in the earth’s atmosphere, which results, in a drastic change in the climate. The increased global temperatures can be due to a number of things, the major one being the increased emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The greenhouse effect can be explained as the effect resulting from the process by which the sun’s rays get through to the earth’s atmosphere and the planet generally.
Some of the solar energy emitted is reflected back to the universe by the glaciers, water or water bodies, or any other bright surfaces. About two-thirds are absorbed by the Earth which leads to warming of the land, the oceans, and the atmosphere. Much of the heat either radiates back to space or is stored in the atmosphere. The greenhouse effect is useful in maintaining the average temperature of the Earth, which without it would be quite low regardless of the constant energy supply from the sun.
Climate change occurs when the mixture of the various gases that constitute the atmosphere of the earth change as time goes by causing the average global temperatures to fluctuate. Scientists have predicted that the increased global temperature is likely to cause the rapid melting of polar ice caps and mountain glaciers, the rise in the levels of coastal waters, and in the production of new patterns of both drought and rainfall, which could lead to a serious disruption of the production of food in many regions. Other scientists are for the idea that such predictions are a bit overstated.
Much as the consequences of global warming remain unclear to different interested groups, the causes can be broadly cited as human action and the global warming occurrence at an unprecedented rate. The consequences, however, predict certain things like deforestation, desertification, a decrease in vegetation and an increase in the animal population, a rise in the levels of the sea, and the result of deforestation, which is decreased precipitation.
Global warming has elicited different reactions from different quarters. Politically, it has received a lot of attention in the past three decades, which led to the rise of some key themes like green politics. This resulted in the intergovernmental meeting of 1997 in Kyoto, which saw around 38 industrialized countries sign up for the Kyoto Protocol an agreement that ensured the participating nations would make efforts to reduce the atmospheric emissions of carbon dioxide within the nations by the year 2012.
This was seen by many global warming prevention campaigners as very useful as it was likely to establish the necessary framework for further cuts in the future so as to enable the successful management of Global Warming in all continents around the world. Following the Kyoto protocol of 1997, there have been other intergovernmental meetings with an aim of making changes in the original protocol which is; The Hague which was held in November of the year 2000.
The meeting however resulted in heated disagreements between the European Union and the United States which were over proposals by the Americans to take account of their forests and other vegetation as the carbon sinks which would lead to their fossil fuel emissions being set. The European Union was alarmed that this was likely to create major loopholes in the agreement as a result of the uncertainty, unstableness and the predicted short life of the carbon storage capacity of vegetation. The United States later withdrew from the Kyoto protocol for the reason that it was bound to create huge damage to the US economy. This ended up being a serious drawback in the binding agreement given that the United States produces 24 percent of the global carbon dioxide emissions.
The other meeting held for negotiations occurred in Bonn in the month of July 2001. The meeting saw the successful translation of the Kyoto protocol into an international treaty. The EU nations on the other hand made concessions to Japan, Australia, Canada, and Russia over the mechanisms by which future agreements were to be enforced and also over the extent to which forests could continue acting as carbon sinks.
The agreements attempted to address the issue of global warming but there were conflicting national economic agendas and disputes which occurred between developed and developing nations over the cost and consequences of reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases.
Global warming has affected the atmosphere, the weather, and the health of individuals; other effects are either economical or environmental.
Among the most serious effects to nature is that people must be concerned with their health now more than ever. The increased temperatures are very much likely to support the breeding of a number of viral diseases like malaria and the West Nile virus. This results in economic and health effects on people. For example, such diseases are likely to increase in the poorer nations or the developing countries where these diseases are more common. The developed countries that are in a better position to fight or eradicate these diseases are forced to spend more on vaccinations, pesticides, prevention promotion or education, etc.
Global warming results in very high rises in temperature that can be accounted for an increased mortality rate of people both adults and children. These are mostly people with cardiovascular problems and other health problems that can be associated with increased temperatures like respiratory problems, heat exhaustion problems, and the deaths related to heatstroke, especially in extreme cases.
High temperatures are associated with the concentration of ozone in the lower atmosphere. Considering that ozone is a harmful pollutant, which causes respiratory problems and damages lung tissues thus causing complications for asthmatic people.
Global warming will also result in a marked decline in agriculture because of the high temperatures and the role of carbon dioxide, which prevents respiration during photosynthesis thus causing damage to many crops. Due to global warming, there is bound to be an increase in the number of and longer droughts. This will in turn lead to an increase in the ozone gas at the ground level, which will result in massive depletion of crops.
Global warming will cause a rise in the sea levels, which will, in turn, lead to increased costs of the coastal defense; this is likely to cause a hold up since most important trade ports are situated at the coast for trade reasons.
On the daily weather, the extremely high temperatures will consequently lead to, increased levels of evaporation. There will also be a decrease in the snow level and glaciers resulting in flash floods, glacial lake overflow, and landslides.
As far as the ecosystems are concerned, they will be forced to leave their natural places of habitation in search of favorable temperatures. Some species are in danger of being rendered extinct while for all or most there will be a marked decline in productivity.
The solutions to global warming can be found in the changes people choose to put in place during their day-to-day activities. For example, by ensuring the efficient use of energy, this can be realized by reducing the emissions of heat-trapping gases through the use of renewable energy like solar, geothermal power, and bioenergy. The burning of fossil fuels releases large amounts of carbon dioxide, which is prevented by using renewable energy which reduces the people’s contribution to global warming while ensuring that a healthy, stronger, and more secure nation is created.
The next important step is to reduce emissions from cars and trucks that produce a lot of carbon dioxide. This can be done by adopting effective vehicle technology solutions or by improving vehicle fuel efficiency.
Reduction of electricity usage around the home is also likely to help us keep global warming in check. This is because most of the energy used in homes is from power plants which burn fossil fuel to power our electric products.
Energy conservation in the home and the yard can be done through activities mostly considered minor like; reducing the size of the lawn by adding shrubs, ground covers, etc.
Recycling also reduces the energy needed to create new products. The people should also be encouraged to eat locally produced food that does not require the use of large amounts of fuel in their production in terms of transportation, refrigeration, etc. Vegetarian meals are also appropriate ways of reducing the amount of energy used in production and consequently significant savings for carbon dioxide.
In conclusion, we are all in a position to reduce global warming and its effects through the actions we choose to undertake or the lifestyles we lead. Simple activities like choosing safer energy options in our homes, workplaces, and on the road and educating our children on the importance of saving energy are all useful. This is because, with practical actions that help in the maintenance of a cleaner, healthier atmosphere we can be able to stop global warming.
“A guide to facts and fictions about climate change”. Royal Society. (2005).
“Don’t fight, adapt”. National Post (2007).
“Joint science academies’ statement on growth and responsibility: sustainability, energy efficiency and climate protection”. Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. (2007).