Global warming is the gradual rise of the earth’s average atmosphere and its ocean, caused by human activities. Global warming is causing changing climatic cycles and occurrence of extreme weather like heat waves. Global warming is also introducing new problems into the world. For instance, areas that have never had to deal with mosquito infestations are dealing with these pests due to that region becoming warmer and wet, in hand, causing increasing cases of malaria. Global warming, primarily caused by human activities including deforestation, improper waste disposal, and greenhouse emissions, is hazardous to the planet as it causes adverse climatic effects, destruction of the environment, increasing diseases, and increasing natural catastrophes.
Causes of Global Warming
The first layers of the atmosphere influence the earth climate. The layers with a significant effect on surface cover approximately 6kilometers. Arguably, people play an important part in changing the climate because any emission from earth goes directly to this 6-kilometerlayer, which is fragile looking at the size of the universe itself. The main cause of global warming is the existence of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. The gasses responsible for global warming are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and nitrous oxide. These gasses trap heat that would have otherwise escaped from the earth's atmosphere. These fumes are mostly produced because of human activities, but some of the methane is produced naturally from the earth. Methane is produced from wetlands and Arctic tundra. Moreover, human activities such as mining of coal and oilcan create it. Other sources include agriculture from the digestive systems of grazers in the form of manure. Nitrous oxide is emitted from fertilizers and other industrial processes. CO2 is the most prevalent gas produced from the burning of fossil fuels.
According to Quinnet al., the consequences of hazardous gasses emitted in the atmosphere have different heat-trapping abilities. Quinnet al. suggest that methane can trap heat 20 times more than carbon dioxide while nitrogen oxide is 300 times more potent than CO2. Other gasses such as chlorofluorocarbons are 1000 times more potent, and also, they degrade the ozone layer which reduces the amount of heat radiation from the sun. However, CO2 has more impact than all other gasses due to its high concentrations, and it remains in the atmosphere for a very extended period, and it remains relatively constant.
A growing population plays a big part to the rising amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Smithet al. argue that this destruction is through poor farming practices, intensive waste dumping in natural resources including the atmosphere and rivers, and increased deforestations. The growing world population is causing the levels of global warming to rise. More people means more intensive agriculture with the use of fertilizers and manure, therefore, more emission of methane and nitrogen oxide. Transportation also increases with a growing population, which means the higher emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning fossils.Furthermore, with a significant population the level of production has to be increased and hence industrialization which produces a whole lot of harmful gasses into the atmosphere. A growing population necessitates cutting down of trees to create room for homes. Trees help to convert CO2, a toxic gas, to oxygen, which is entirely harmless.Deforestation is lowering the rate of conversion and hence more carbon dioxide is retained in the atmosphere.
Consumption of Energy and Economic Growth
The world relies on both renewable and nonrenewable sources of energy.Parks suggest that renewable sources of energy include geothermal heating, hydropower, biomass heating, and solar power while nonrenewable include coal, gas, oil, and nuclear power. The world has used an average of 500 million terajoules of energy this year, and the figure is still rising. 81% of this energy comes from burning fossil fuels such as coal, gas, and oil. In 2012, data showed 31.4% energy consumption from oil, coal at 29% and natural gas at 21.3%.
An estimated growth of 35% is anticipated in the years between 2011 and 2030. Energy innovation is thus necessary because depletion of these fossil fuels is foreseeable in the near future. Furthermore, according toParks, it is estimated that oil in the world will be consumed after 37 years from now. The world can take advantage of the solar power that is free, and the earth receives quite a substantial amount of it. Renewable sources of energy do not have a risk of depletion and do not pollute the environment. The United States is the world biggest energy producer and obviously consumes most of the energy, followed closely by China than India. People are warming up to renewable energy, in 2012, around 13.2% of the world relied on it but 2015, figures recorded 22% power consumption. The numberis estimated to rise to 26% by 2020.
Energy consumption by type 2015
Consumption of Energy and Global Warming
Oil, gas, and coal are the primary producers of energy used to produce electricity, fuels, and heat for the majority of people across the globe. As discussed earlier, fossil fuels are the leading cause of global warming. Coal has high carbon content and emits more carbon dioxide when burned. Coal is the largest source of electricity worldwide, therefore, causing considerable harm to the climate. Additionally, coal emits methane into the atmosphere when mined. Methane has a higher heat trapping ability than carbon dioxide. Emissions of greenhouse gasses from coal-based power plants are ranked highest followed closely by vehicle emissions.
On the other hand, Feinberg and Willer argue that petroleum is the next biggest polluter thanks to increased use of the product in transportation globally. Significant amounts of CO2 are produced because of combustion of petroleum into gas by cars and trucks. In addition, a lot of carbon dioxide is emitted in oil refinery process. Petroleum extracted from oil shalehas a more devastating effect than crude oil or even coal. Shale oil refinement produces a lot of CO2 in the atmosphere and in addition to that water that could be used for agriculture. Production of shale oil does not make sense because it takes up a lot of energy in production and the pollution caused is immense.
Smithet al. add that over the years, the levels of CO2 emissions have been on the increase (as presented in the above data) arguing that levels of greenhouse gasses are highest in this age of industrialization.Global warming is caused by the concentration of these gasses in the lower atmosphere, which is recording an increase in these recent years and an estimated increase in coming years. Increased burning of fossil fuels and deforestation is causing this increase.
The Impact of Global Warming
The impact of climatic change is already being felt in the ecosystems, economics, and societies. The world is already experiencing water shortages because of climatic changes. The warming atmosphere could cause death to forests because of lack of rainfall. Dying trees release their carbon dioxide stores into the air adding to increasing levels of green house gases in the atmosphere global. Rising temperatures are causing glaciers in the Polar Regions to melt. Many people rely on these glaciers for drinking water, agriculture, and production of hydroelectric power and so depletion of this ice could mean water shortages. Melting glaciers are also causing increased water levels. Oceans are natural carbon absorbers, therefore; they reduce the amount emitted into the atmosphere. Increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increase the acidity of oceans, negatively affecting the marine life. Coral reefs are also being negatively affected by global warming. Corals and algae are displaying discoloration due to lack of oxygen. Quite some the world population depends on fish from these coral reefs for food. If coral and algaebecome extinct, so would the fish causing people to find an alternative means of food or face starvation.
Caputo et al. argue that Polar Regions are vulnerable to global warming because of the ice covering their surface concluding that there will be no summer ice covering the Arctic in the next few decades. This means a loss of habitats for polar bears and seals and the people living in the region. Antarctica has the largest block of ice almost covering 14 million square meters of land. This ice plays a vital role in providing fresh water and reflecting back solar radiations. Melting of this ice block would mean higher temperatures in the atmosphere.
Climatic change is happening excessively rapidly for species to adapt. Therefore, many of the world’s endangered species live in areas that are likely to be severally affected by the climatic change. Warming up of the earth puts forests at risk of fires, which are the habitats of animals. Loss of habitats can also be caused by changing the climate, for instance, the snow leopard, the Himalayas is recording three times the earth warming rate. This will adversely affect its habitat as they are forced to move higher into the forest. This will lead to their isolation, and their prey is affected too. In Africa, climatic change could cause too much rainfall or drought. The African elephant drinks up to 225 liters of water daily so in case of drought this species will be forced to move out of protected areas causing conflict with the people.
Parties Responsible for Global Warming
Humans are responsible for global warming although it has been subject to discussion. As mentioned earlier human activities like farming, transportation, deforestation, and burning fossil fuels contribute to green houses in the atmosphere. The United States is a top producer of energy, therefore, the biggest emitter of fossil fuels. It is followed closely by China and European countries.
Take of World Governments and Personal Insight
Personally, I would hate to experience the adverse effect of global warming in the coming decade. Global warming may cause adverse catastrophes such as severe droughts and excessive flooding due to heavy rainfall. Such calamities would expose my family and I to diseases, loss of properly, and financial strains to cater for the medical cover. To counter these effects, change is necessary.
The difference will be felt if only countries take a collective effort to stop or rather minimize global warming. In 2015, 195 countries convened in Paris and made an agreement to minimize the rate at which the temperatures are rising. The agreement was made to make sure temperatures increase by below 2 degrees in this period as opposed to 10 degrees that would happen if caution is not taken.Therefore, collective efforts by the local government and internationally will help reverse this trend.
Global warming is posing a significant threat to the existence and development of the world. It is posing as a threat to the life in the planet because life is intolerant to extreme weather. Noteworthy, to counter the effects of global warming, change is necessary; this change starts at an individual level. There are simple methods of reducing global warming at home that include adding an extra blanket instead of turning up the heat during winter, use compact fluorescent bulbs, preserving the environment, planting trees, correctly dumping wastes, and reducing emissions of hazardous gasses.
Increasing forestlands will help absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere naturally. Moreover, investing in renewable sources of energy will not harm the planet. Increasing vehicle efficiency could also cut down on emissions. A solution would be using public transport or use one family car for everybody. There is also the option of capturing carbon dioxide emitted from fossil fuels and storing it underground in a process called carbon sequestering.