The ability to understand and address effects of global warming forms the basis to sustainability of resources, greater social-economic development, political stability and ecological sanctity in the fast globalizing society. Global warming, unlike it was previously thought, is not a one state issue, but a highly diverse aspect with far reaching implications to all environmental spheres. To concur with Jerry (31) and Taoyuan (665) conclusions, if the globe fails to address global warming causes, the cumulative effects are irreversible and consequently pose great risks to future generations.
At this point, the following key questions recur frequently to economists, environmentalists and most importantly, the readers. What really is global warming? What are the main causes and resulting effects? What are the current efforts in addressing global warming and their efficiencies? To answer these questions, this paper provides an intrinsic analysis of global warming and further derives respective recommendations to prevent the looming disaster. A brief analysis of global warming
According to Lonngren and Er-Wei Bai (1567-45680), global warming is the average rise in global temperatures of the lower (near surface/ troposphere) atmosphere over the last two centuries. Houghton (1361-1362) explains that global warming has seen temperatures rise with about 1. 33° F. Notably, the largest temperatures increase was recorded in the last half of the twentieth century which is double the overall rise since 1880 (see diagram I). Diagram I: Global warming since industrial revolution II I (Haughton, 1389).
Readers as Georgios and Christodoulides (391-392) point out appear startled on how the problem arose and why it was never stopped before reaching the current threatening status. Siegfried and Avery (65) explain that prior to the United Nations Convention on Human Environment at Stockholm in the year 1972 the environment was considered a different entity to development. As a result, environmental systems were considered to have indefinite capacity to cleanse any developmental wastes and emissions.
During the later Rio Summit of 1992, Kumi et al (3117) report that effects of development on environment were brought out to have long term negative implications. Consequently, Agenda 21 (main recommendations of the Rio Summit) established the basis for scientific understanding of the global warming phenomena. As earlier pointed out by environmentalists, it was found out that developed nations were the main causative factor through excessive emissions from their industries. However, these findings opened a new chapter of addressing global warming; a consideration that Taoyuan (666) agree was not very welcome to many nations and states.
Key misconceptions on global warming The recently concluded United Nations Conference Convention at Copenhagen in December 2009 reflected the criticality of the problem but also revealed the great misconception. To begin with, World Bank (101) indicate that many nations especially the developed ones consider global warming a phenomenon that must be addressed by all with equal proportions. However, as Siegfried and Avery (81) and Jerry (49) argue, this view is sycophantic as it omits key facts about the main causative aspects of the problem.
A different group, largely from the developing world considers global warming as an income unit which can be utilized to improve their economic status. While this consideration is indeed true with introduction of carbon trading, Apurva and Mendelsohn (662-663) noted that it deviates the consideration of real problem largely from the notion of the ‘benefits’ arising from it. However, the greatest misconception comes from those not yet affected by the negative effects. Kyounghoon, Songtak and Tak (273-274) argue that many countries especially the developed ones consider global warming as an analogy that have no clear baseline.
As a result, mechanisms recommended to address this phenomenon are viewed as restrictive to their development. Since the signing of the Kyoto Protocol, the United States has remained non-committal in becoming party to the recommendations. However, they are the largest fossil fuel users and greenhouse gases emitters globally (Taoyuan, 669). How then can a clear balance that is acceptable to all be arrived at? Causes of global warming a) Greenhouse gases Apurva and Mendelsohn (656-657) report that global warming is largely caused by greenhouse gases was at first not fully accepted.
As a result, the United Nations Conference on Climate Change UNFCC (a making of Agenda 21) provided for a holistic framework to ascertain the role of greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases which include Carbon Dioxide as the most destructive emission, Oxides of Nitrogen, Oxides of Sulfur, Ozone and Methane form a covering layer at the upper end of the lowest atmospheric layer (troposphere) (Haughton, 1357). Consequently, this layer is highly selective in that it allows short wavelength radiation from the sun to pass into the earth’s lower atmosphere causing terrestrial energy transfer.
However, this layer prevent excess radiation in the form of long-wavelength radiation from getting back into the outer space and result to the green house effect (see diagram II). Diagram II: The green house effect (Haughton, 1360). b) Deforestation Following the increasing widespread acceptance of greenhouse effect as the major cause of global warming, other causes have also been identified to aid in generating holistic mechanisms to address it. Brian and Scott (212) explain that clearing of forests reflects a critical removal of the sinking platform for the greenhouse gases.
Clearing of forests over the years has intensified as people seek land for agriculture to feed the ever rising population, expand settlements, and develop urban areas. In addition, forests are also cleared intensively as raw materials for domestic and industrial use. An average of 80, 000 acres of land as Mongabay. com (2010) indicates is cleared daily in the globe. It is at this point that a new dilemma of whether to conserve the forests or produce food to eat has made the quest to address global warming an unending debate.
Figure III: Deforestation in tropical countries (Mongabay. com, 2010) c) Use of fossil fuels and industrialization From a deeper consideration of greenhouse effect and its critical role in global warming, Zecca and Chiari (1-2) were correct in emphasizing on the real sources of the destructive emissions. The task force by the UNFCC noted that use of fossil fuels released massive emissions that contributed towards global warming. An average of 450 exajoules, a figure considered to be higher when adjusted to reflect small scale users, is got from fossil fuels (Kyounghoon, 279).
The extensive use of fossil fuels largely driven by industrialization forces provides an immense point source for the greenhouse gases. In the year 2006, the largest fossil fuel consumers, The United States and Republic of China produced over 5,500 and 6,100 megatons of emissions into the atmosphere respectively (Kyounghoon, 279). Presently, most nations are on a great struggle to maximize their production and economic development through industrialization. As a result, nations and businesses find themselves in the midst of a quagmire between the development and focus on addressing greenhouse houses.
Indeed, though the concept of global warming is becoming clearer, Patrick and Damon (1724) argue that many upcoming economies will seek to develop first with global warming as a secondary issue. However, Taoyuan (665) calls for an equal platform in addressing the phenomenon; a consideration that depicts Marxist deviation of responsibilities by pushing key causes under the carpet before working out alternatives for solutions. Effects to the society a) Floods and submergence of coastal lowlands According to Kumi et al (3113-3114) rising temperatures over the years have resulted to excessive thawing of ice waters at the Polar Regions.
Consequently, the additional waters has resulted to key submergence and flooding of the low lying costal lands. Islands and low lying regions such as Venice, New Orleans and Indonesia have recorded key losses from floods. In the Caribbean, nations such as Haiti, Dominican Republic and Cuba which rely on beach tourism to support about 15% of their economies have started experiencing major losses from floods and could be headed to major disasters if the problem is not addressed (Brian and Scott, 210-211).
b) Desertification and increasing poverty levels A more worrying effect to agree with Siegfried and Avery (91) is desertification. The rising temperatures as recorded over the years intensify the severity of draughts by making more land uncultivable and less habitable. In developing states, the need to address demands of the people is based on the capacity to empower them locally and therefore projecting their economic growth to sustainable levels. Therefore, global warming is a key accelerating factor for raising poverty levels (Jerry, 85-86).
Even for communities that embrace artificial irrigation in the fast drying lands, the cost of their products cannot easily compete in the market due to high production cost. c) Extreme tropical weather conditions Higher temperatures as scientists explain, intensifies the differences between various pressure belts which results to key disasters especially in tropical regions. A good example to focus on at this point is the 2005 Hurricane Katrina that resulted to a loss of US $ 100 billion (see diagram III) (Collins, 38).
It is worth noting that despite these tropical weather systems being highly destructive, their frequency of occurrence in the tropical regions has created greater fear to local people, investors and thus predicting doom to the affected regions. The period lapsing between1995-1998 saw 12 major tropical weather extremities in the United States. It is from this consideration that United States failure to ratify the Kyoto protocol that seeks to reduce overall greenhouse gases is seen to be ill-advised and therefore unjustified (Lonngren and Er-Wei Bai, 1570).
Diagram III: Flooded city of New Orleans (Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina) (Collins, 2006) d) Resilience of diseases The recently concluded United Nations Conference on Global Warming at Copenhagen as Taoyuan (670) explains found that major tropical diseases for plants, animals and even people were recurring at much higher rates due to the rising temperatures. As a result, affected nations especially those in developing countries have shifted their developmental focus to address these issues (Zell, Andi and Wutzler, 655).
Global warming therefore stalls development and eliminates the needed human capacity by deviating focus; a factor that greatly promotes poverty. Addressing global warming a) Use of alternative sources of energy The realization of the immense magnitude that global warming has to the society resulted to administrators moving back to the drawing board to design mechanisms for reducing the problem and that are acceptable by all. Jerry (94) argues that due to the fact that fossil fuels are the main sources of green house gases, alternatives should be sought.
Particularly, environmentally friendly alternatives such as solar, wind, hydro and nuclear energy use should be intensified both in developed and developing nations (see diagram IV). Diagram IV: A wind farm in West Texas (Collins, 2006) b) Greening projects In his contribution, Haughton (1400) calls for green projects to create a larger carbon dioxide sink platform to from the atmosphere. Analysts appear to agree on greening projects because it is a simplistic model which all stakeholders can be involved in.
Besides, greening projects have added advantages such as restoring ecological integrity, facilitating clean water availability and most importantly creating a haven for greater biodiversity. c) Technological improvements While the capacity of nations to forego using fossil fuels for cleaner energies have appeared rather difficult or extremely slow, Patrick and Damon (1721-1722) call for technological improvements especially in promoting fuel efficiency have intensified. Large companies such as Toyota, Ford, GM and Honda have already invented hybrid vehicles with minimal emissions from high fuel efficiencies.
When employed especially in the industrial sector, Patrick and Damon (1724) add that it is possible to reduce greenhouse gases emissions with more than 50% globally. d) Carbon trading As the main protocol addressing global warming, Kyoto provided for a trading mechanism on greenhouse gases emissions. Under this model, Gary, Steve and Jisun (59-61) explain that developed countries were considered as the main emitters of greenhouse gases and therefore required to reduce their 1990s emissions with 5% by year 2012.
To facilitate this reduction, carbon emitted is quantified into units that are then converted to monetary terms and used in carbon trading. Besides, nations with effective carbon reduction and sinking mechanisms also quantify the carbon they remove from the atmosphere into equal carbon units traded in the carbon market (Zecca and Chiari, 3). As a result, those countries with perfect carbon reduction and sinking mechanisms can easily reap from their efforts. Of greater importance, this model has provided developing countries with a chance to view the value of their low carbon emission status (Gary et al, 78).
Conclusion and recommendations From the above discussion, this paper concludes by supporting the thesis statement, ‘the ability to understand and address effects of global warming forms the basis to sustainability of resources, greater social-economic development, political stability and ecological sanctity in the fast globalizing society. ’ Global warming came out as a highly contested phenomenon whose effects cut across nations, continents and even generations. It is critical that all stakeholders at the national and global level establish effective collaborative models based on factual causative factors to derive workable solutions.
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