Climate change pertains to the deviation in the global temperature through a course of time. It portrays the alterations in the standard condition of the atmosphere for a particular period of time, extending from years to centuries. It has been determined that climate change is the result of various courses, both internal and external with respect to the planet. The phrase climate change has lately been applied to issues of environmental planning strategies and approximately 90 – 95% of this variation has been attributed to human activities.
This human derived concept has then been categorized as anthropogenic climate change and the media has then presented this phenomenon as global warming. Other non-governmental agencies have also referred to this occurrence as climate variability. In this paper, climate change and global warming will be used interchangeably to refer to the increase in temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere. DETAILS OF CLIMATE CHANGE Climate change pertains to the increase in temperature of the atmosphere based on the entrapment of gases that are emitted from activities on the surface of the earth.
The increase in temperature is a direct result of the greenhouse effect, which involves heat that originated from the sun, which is entrapped within the atmosphere due to several factors. Scientists have determined that the atmosphere’s temperature has increased since the industrial revolution, which has maximized the use of chemicals in manufacturing various kinds of materials in industry. There are four principal gases that have been identified to be primarily responsible for the onset of global warming.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is accountable for approximately half of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (Pearson and Palmer, 2000). This gas is a by-product of fossil fuel combustion, which involves burning of coal, natural gas and oil. It is also generated from deforestation activities, which have increased for expansion of industrialization areas. Trees utilize carbon dioxide in their photosynthetic reactions, but it there are fewer trees in the environment, less CO2 is removed from the atmosphere, leaving the environment with excess amounts of CO2.
Another gas that has been determined to be responsible for global warming is chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which are the primary constituent of plastics and aerosols, as well as refrigerants in air conditioners. Chlorofluorocarbons make up approximately 25% of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Thirdly, methane gas (CH4), which comprises approximately 12% of the greenhouse gases, is also accountable for global warming. Methane gas is released during the decay of organic matter, as well as in the stomachs of cattle, sheep and termites, yet, most of the gas is currently generated by industrial companies.
Lastly, nitrous oxide (N2O) is responsible for approximately 6% of the greenhouse gases. It is a by-product of industries, as well as nitrogen fertilizers, volcanic eruptions and livestock manure. HISTORICAL ACCOUNT OF CLIMATE CHANGE The process of global warming through the greenhouse effect was historically described in 1824 by Joseph Fourier. The details of the greenhouse effect were eventually examined in 1896 by Svante Arrhenius. These investigations resulted in the determination of the mechanisms behind the increase in temperature through the absorption and release of infrared radiation by gases that existed in the atmosphere.
The radiation in turn increased the temperature of the Earth’s surface and its adjacent surrounding atmosphere. Research has shown that the greenhouse effect is a natural occurrence that is influenced by gases that are naturally present in the atmosphere. It has actually been postulated that the initial greenhouse effect of the Earth is beneficial for biological species to survive because it warms the Earth’s surface to a temperature of approximately 33oC.
Should the greenhouse effect be absent, any biological species would not be able to survive through the harsh cold temperature of the Earth. However, the accumulated effect of human activity during the last few centuries has affected the greenhouse phenomenon, resulting in a significant increase in the concentration of particular gases. This increase in concentration subsequently influenced the atmospheric temperature to increase. The first greenhouse gas that was identified is water vapor. This gas comprises around 36 to 70% of the total greenhouse effect.
Another greenhouse gas that was recognized is carbon dioxide which makes up 9 to 26% of the total atmospheric complex. Approximately 4 to 9% of the atmosphere is also composed of methane gas, while around 4 to 9% is made up of ozone. Historical atmospheric analysis has shown that the amount of these gases has increase by almost 75% since the 18th century industrial era. Geological research has indicated that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached its highest concentration in the last 20 million years of the Earth’s existence.
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