Various reports on global warming have been appearing on our TV screen as one of the latest headlines recently; certain roles and policies have been set up to combat these global problem. The truth is, the earth has been experiencing numerous phases of global warming through history which today is still on going. Projections have shown that the global surface temperature around the world have risen by 0.75C (1.4F) over the last 100 yearsand is likely to rise from 0.3 to 1.7C (0.5 to 3.1F) in the lowestemissions scenario, and 2.6 to 4.8C (4.7 to 8.6F) in the highest emissions scenario.
Warming is often greater over land than over the oceans andit is greatest in the Arctic region, with the continuingmelting of glaciers,permafrostandsea ice. Global warming is directly linked to an increased level of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases caused by greenhouse effect. Human activities such as agriculture and industrialization are largely seen as the major contributors of greenhouse effect.
Definition of Global warming
Global warming is defined as anincreaseintheearth’saverageatmospherictemperaturewhich brings about other changesinclimate (climate change) which is generally caused by greenhouseeffect. Global warming is the increase in Earths temperature due to greenhouse emission caused by changing land use and burning of fossil fuels. The effects and results of global warming usually result to terrible environmental problem such as extinction of various tropical plants and animal, having also very a negative influence on man health as well.
Causes of global warming
Global warming is caused by increased level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere which is mostly triggered by human activities such as agriculture, burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. These activities produce large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, which lead to global warming. Lets look at these effects one after the other below.
- Greenhouse effect-the sun is the only source of external heat for the earth; sunlight heats the earths surface during the day, as the earths surface warms up, it also releases heat, but we cannot see this as light just like the light from the sun. Sometimes, during hot days, we can see the heat shimmers rising from a hot black rod. This shows us that a lot of heat is given off by the surface. At night, when the sun no longer heats the surface, the earth continues to give off heat in this way. In fact, at the scale of the whole earth as the earth gives off much heat, so it is received from the Sun. This process keeps the average temperature of the earth stable; however, greenhouse gases trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere to keep the planet warm enough to sustain life, this process is called the greenhouse effect.It is a natural process that helps to stabilize the earth which without these gases, the Earth would be too cold for humans, plants and animals to survive.There are natural greenhouse effects as well as man induced greenhouse effect, the former exists due to the balance of the major types of greenhouse gases, this takes place when extraordinary high levels of these gases accumulate in the air, more heat starts being trapped and leads to the enhancement of the greenhouse effect. However, human induced emissions have been increasing greenhouse levels which is raising worldwide temperatures and driving global warming through burning of coal and fossil fuel.
- Burning fossil fuels– since the industrial revolution, which began in the 18th century, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increase at a higher pace. Carbon dioxide is one of the main causes of greenhouse gas and a major contributor to the greenhouse effect. When fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas are burned, they release greenhouse gases. Large amount of energy is created through heating of homes and buildings, transportation systems, cooking food, treating water to make it drinkable, heating of water and piping it into homes, gas flaring, bush burning etc, people induce the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere through various activities hence leading to global warming. Carbon dioxide is one of the most important gases responsible for the greenhouse effect; these greenhouse gases are able to alter the energy balance of the earth. Being able to absorb long wave back to the earths surface increases the quantity of heat energy in the earths climatic system.
- Agriculture- man also contributes to global warming through agriculture; during this process, nitrous oxides are emitted through the use of synthetic fertilizers for plants, fossil fuel combustion and livestock manure management. Humans also create methane during fossil fuel production and use of livestock and rice farming.
- Deforestation– when forests are cut down faster than they are replaced; it contributes to climate change. Deforestation accounts for 20% of the worlds carbon emissions (more than what the entire transport sector produces). Deforestation makes such a huge contribution to carbon emissions because trees absorb carbon dioxide as they grow. If there are fewer trees left to absorb carbon dioxide, then the gases will build up in the atmosphere. The agricultural activity and the industry that cut down forest trees do not only damage the earths ability to absorb carbon dioxide, they often reduce the number of trees that could have helped to remove carbon dioxide from the air, thus causing an additional destruction to the natural soil.
Effects of global warming on man and the Environment
Global warming causes the following destructions which include ozone layer depletion, acid rain, extinction of wild life, extinction of various tropical plants, earth quakes/volcanic eruptions, flood disaster, rock falls, mud flow, hurricanes, hail storms, melting ice sheet in the polar region, droughts, desertification, heat waves, wind storms and forest fire in California.
- Acid rain- acid rain Involves deposition of aqueous acids, acidic gases and acidic salts- Aciddeposition can be in wet or form. The wetdepositionreferstoacidicrain,fog&snow, while the drydepositionreferstoacidicgasesandparticles. Halfoftheacidityintheatmosphere fallsbacktoearththroughdrydeposition.Human activities are main contributors of various pollutants released into the atmosphere which contributes to acid rain.Sulphurdioxide and Nitrogen oxides are the major substances that form acid rain. The number one cause of acid rain (Sulphurdioxide) is released during burning of fossil fuels in power stations, heavy industries and motor vehicles. In the atmosphere, it reacts with oxygen in the air. Within 43 days, it will be converted intosulphurtrioxide, it will then be transported by wind to a long distance and then dissolved in rainwater to form a dilute solution ofsulphuricacid. Nitrogen oxides are another important cause of acid rain, the burning of fossil fuels in motor vehicles and power stations are mainly responsible for the release of nitrogen oxides into atmosphere. Likesulphurdioxide, nitrogen dioxides reacts with water and oxygen to form nitric acid. You can easily notice the effects of this rain on monuments, metals, blocks, buildings, trees, and statues. However, acid rain causes various health issues such as bronchitis and asthma. It also affects the environment by damaging tree foliage directly and increases the acidity of the soil, streams and seas.
- Rising sea levels-Since 1880, the Earth’s sea level has risen by 21cm (8 inches); the worlds oceans have been absorbing more than 80% of the heat added to the climate, thus causing ocean water to expand. The warmer average temperature causes thermal expansion and the accelerated melting of ice and glaciers increase the amount of water in the ocean. The rate at which the sea rises is increasing at abnormal rate; between 1993 and 2003, ocean expansion was seen as the largest contributor to sea level rise, melting glaciers and losses from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have also contributed to the recent sea level rise hence leading to coastal flooding.
- Precipitation, Storm and Drought– Global warming brings about change in precipitation and weather patterns in many different places; some places appear drier with more intense periods of drought and at the same time making other places wetter, with stronger storms and increased flooding. The intensity of tropical cyclones (hurricanes) in the North Atlantic has increased over the past 30 years which is directly linked to increase in tropical sea surface temperatures. Storms with heavy precipitation have increased in frequency over most land areas. Between 1900 and 2005, long-term trends shows significantly increased precipitation in eastern parts of Northern and Southern America, North Europe and Northern and Central Asia. Between 1900 and 2005, the Sahel (boundary between the Sahara desert and more fertile regions of Africa to the South), the Mediterranean, Southern Africa and parts of Southern Asia have become drier, adding stress to water resources in the tropics and subtropics.
- Stronger hurricanes and cyclones- Global warming is likely to bring about increases in the frequency and intensity of heavy hurricane events and in the intensity of tropical cyclonic storms with larger peak wind speeds and heavier precipitation due to warmer sea surface temperatures. The frequency of tropical cyclonic storms is projected to stay constant or decline, although the IPCC is not confident in this conclusion, noting, the apparent increase in the proportion of very intense storm since 1970 in some regions is much larger than simulated by current models for that period
- Desertification– this is a type of land degradation, in which a relatively dry area of land becomes increasingly arid. Increasing temperatures around the world are making arid and semi-arid areas even drier than how it used to be. Recent findings have shown that the water cycle is changing and rainfall patterns are shifting to make already dried areas even drier. This is causing water shortages and an intense amount of distress to the over 2.5 million people in dry regions which are degrading into desert.
- Increased melting of snow and ice– Since 1900, the Northern hemisphere has lost 7% of the maximum area covered by seasonally frozen ground and Mountain glaciers have declined worldwide. In 1978, Satellite data showed that the extent of Arctic sea ice during the summer has shrunken by more than 20%. Early snowmelt, and severe droughts have cause more water shortages and increase the risk of wildfires in different parts of the world such as Alps, Himalayas, , Rockies, Alaska, Andes and Africa.
- Diseases outbreaks and death– apart from the negative impacts of global warming on the environment, we also have to consider our health, as certain environmental problems such as air pollution and water pollution could bring about allergies, asthma, and infectious disease outbreaks due to increased growth ofpollen-producing ragweed. However, the higher the temperature, the higher the death rate and some diseases related to high temperature. Global warming will not just affect the crops, man and animals; it will certainly affect the lives and overall development of the country. The effects of global warming could also manifest through changes in land and water regions. For instance changes in the frequency and intensity of flooding, droughts, water storage, worsening soil condition, desertification and pest outbreak.
Global warming solutions
Certain things need to done to reduce the negative impacts of global warming, we may need to take advantage of new opportunities that may be presented; in this case, adaption is important. According to Eboh (2009) who stated that even if efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are successful, it is no longer possible to avoid some degree of global warming and climate change. We already know that effects of greenhouse gases are already in the atmosphere from past and current emissions, our planet is already committed to at least much warming over 21st century, as it has been experienced over the 20th century. This implies that in addition to mitigation practices being developed to combat global warming, adaptation to the anticipated climate change is very essential to reduce the damages from climate change that cannot be avoided.
However, there are many factors that contribute to global warming problems such as cars and factories which cause the major ones. We can help to prevent any more damage to the earths atmosphere by reducing our carbon emissions by walking and cycling to work and school, and using less electricity and heat. Even though global warming is natural thing, there are still many ways to combat global warming, and they all begin with you. We all must take responsibility for our actions or inaction and learn to live sustainably, for the future generation and for the world as a whole.
Secondly, since many impacts of global warming is caused by big industry, however, we can all take steps to reduce our own carbon emission and also reduce our impact on global warming by installing solar panels for your energy requirements. Installing solar panels may not be as expensive as you think, will save you money over time, and may even make you money if your panels create a surplus of energy. Governments should provide solution for global warming problem by decreasing the buildings and greenhouse emissions, cut down the industrial waste heat, and encourage people to use biofuel in their vehicles.