Global warming refers to the heating of the air near the earth’s surface and oceans and this problem was first noted to happen in the 1950s period. Today the issue of global warming is one of the most widely discussed as it has serious implications to our environment. Global warming is as a consequence of human activities and its main contributor is the high level of greenhouse gases that are emitted to the atmosphere. One of these gases is methane, nitrogen dioxide, water vapors and carbon dioxide (CO2), which are emitted when fossil fuels such natural gas, oil, diesel and coal are burned.
The issue of global warming has risen to the levels of concern today and days cannot pass without it being mentioned. If its effects are not mitigated the world will become an inhabitable place. The effects of global warming are many ranging from rise in global temperatures, forests destruction, melting and retreat of ice glaciers and thawing of snow that covers the mountains and destruction of the coastal ecosystems. This is what this research paper will basically focus on.
It will discuss in depth the causes of global warming how these effects impact our society. This research paper is structured as follows; it starts with a brief introduction of what global warming is, its origin and how it has developed overtime, some examples of where it has already occurred will be given and then the conclusion. At the very end there is also a list of all the works cited, properly formatted in accordance with the MLA formatting style. Most people according to Weart (13) use the term global warming to mean climatic change but this is not true.
The former is as a result of human activities and changes in the solar system but later is any change in the state of the average climate in terms of precipitation and weather over an extended period of time. The first effects of global warming were first noted in the mid 19th century and according to various reports given by different researchers, global warming results due to unchecked human activities. The world has experienced and witnessed changes in ice formation and melting not mentioning the abrupt rise in global temperatures.
Though weather variations are something that is as old as mankind, its recent changes have awakened the conscience of men. Although there are periods when temperatures are a bit hot, there was unusual rise in temperatures in the period between 1980s and 1990s. This problem has continued up to the 21st century. “In terms of global average near the surface air temperature, the year 1998 was the warmest in the instrumental record and the nine warmest years in that record have occurred since 1990” (Houghton 2). The Graph below Shows How Global Temperature Has Increased Over Time Due to Global Warming.
Gotten from http://globalwarming-awareness2007-arshad. com/global-warming-graphs. shtml The rise in the rates at which hurricanes, tornadoes and the general blowing of strong wind is also attributed to global warming. These effects were experienced in Western Europe especially in England in the late 1980s. No single human being can claim not to have contributed to the global warming as in one way or the other one must have been involved in cooking using fossil fuels and in transport. These are the major contributors of global warming because they increase the amount of carbon dioxide gas which is in the atmosphere.
(Natural Resources Defense Council). The problem with greenhouse gases is that they trap hot air that is trying to escape from the ocean and earths’ surface something that has serious consequences. Carbon dioxide behaves like a blanket and a mirror. It traps hot air and sends it back to the ground thus there is a lot of water evaporation on the oceans thereby increasing humidity in the air. Also this humidity also behaves like CO2 which traps hot air thus making the air in the atmosphere even warmer (Haughton 12)
Most of the global effects we are witnessing today were predicted long time ago by scientists for example the world meteorological organization (WMO) issued a warning in 2003 that there will be increase in weather changes and the examples that it gave were tornadoes, hurricanes and heat waves. Today these tornadoes are like the order of the day and are the effects of global warming. According to scientists, when ice glaciers melts, that water flows to the oceans which in turn floods and the problem that results is that even when there is a small storm water is blown to the earths’ surface.
Human activities that contribute to global warming dates back to the Industrial Revolution period when labor became mechanized. Those machines used fossil fuels such as coal which emits large amount of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. The current human activities are contributing largely to the global warming that human activities of the 19th century although the current global warming effects are not just as a result of these current activities but is as a result of human activities extended over time.
According to a report that was produced by the World Meteorological Organization, the period from early 1990s up to 2007 has registered the highest degrees in terms of global temperature. The average global temperature for the year 2007 was estimated to be 0. 41oC above the average annual temperature of the 1960s of 14. 00oc Just like there are many environmental variables, the same applies when it comes to human activities which contribute to global warming. As per the IPCC’s fourth assessment report, since 1750, human activities with a very high probability were said to be the cause of global warming.
The increase of global warming for the last fifty years has been due to the increase in greenhouses emissions. The Graph Below shows how the Concentration of Greenhouse Gas has increased In the Last 250 Years. It was accessed from http://earthsci. org/education/teacher/basicgeol/global_warm/global_warm. html These gases also destroy the ozone that protects some harmful sun rays from reaching the sun and that is why there are so many cases of cancer in the world.
The main source of these gases is the fuels that are used on vehicles, planes and other machines such as generators and water pumps and the fuels that are used in households. What happens is that when sun rays reach the earths’ surface, they heat the surface while the excess heat is radiated back to the atmosphere. These rays are supposed to be lost in the space but because there is a lot of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the sunlight with longer wavelength are trapped by these gases (Silverstein and Nunn 53-54).
Now the problem is that it leads to global warming in that these gases behave like mirrors that reflect back sun rays to the earth leading to overheating of the global temperature and this is what is referred by scientists as greenhouse effect. Even the water vapor that results due to overheating of the ocean surfaces is also a greenhouse gas. It is estimated that these vapors contribute 36 to 70 percent of the global warming while carbon dioxide accounts for 9-26 percent while others like methane and ozone contributes about 4-9 percent and 3-7percent respectively.
Methane is always present in the earth and so when mining or soil erosion occurs due to human activities; it is exposed to the atmosphere. This methane combines with other gases in the atmosphere and it releases carbon dioxide. Population is another factor that has contributed to the rise in global temperature. There is no direct link of overpopulation to global warming but through an intricate process it contributes. When population increase, it means people will require more food and demand for more food means that more agricultural lands will be cultivated.
Scientifically we know that trees help in purifying air by absorbing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere so when vegetation cover is cleared the chances of global warming to result are high as greenhouses gases remain uncontrolled. Also, to some extent green vegetations lead to global warming. When green vegetation rot they release a smelly gas. This gas is methane and is one of those greenhouse gases. Again as people demand more food, they devise ways of increasing food production and one way of doing this is by using animal manure which contains a lot of methane.
People are forced to keep animals so as they would get this manure thus indirectly leading to the global warming. As population grows, more energy is needed in the production sectors. Fuel usage increase in the production companies so as to meet the ever increasing demand for products. Population increase mean more transport demands, this leads to an increase in the number of vehicles resulting to more emissions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Apart from human causes, there are also natural causes of global warming.
Sun which is part of the solar system could also contribute to the global warming. If there happens to be output changes in terms of the heat that the sun produces, global temperature could rise. Another natural factor that could contribute is if there happens to be a change in the shape of the orbit that earth as a planet follows. If one point is closer to the sun then, global temperature at that particular period of time could rise. All these causes of global warming lead to several negative consequences. One of these effects is the increase in precipitation.
As more and more water evaporates and is trapped in the clouds it then falls as precipitation. When the oceans are heated by the sun, evaporation occurs leading to heavy rain that has negative results for example it leads to floods and soil erosion. (Victor 31-33) Another effect associated with global warming is the thawing of mountain glaciers. In the period between 1550s and 1850s there was a lot of glaciers but this has subsequently decreased over time. It is estimated that the world glaciers with the exception of ice sheets and caps in the Antarctic and Arctic regions has gone down by 50 percent.
The reduction of these glaciers has been witnessed in Himalayas Mountains, Alps, Rocky Mountains and Pyrenees. The consequences of melting of these glaciers are many and one of them is flash slides, increase in landslides not mentioning the overflow of the glacial lakes. It also makes some rivers to become seasonal, during summer time they become dry and then gain water during winter. When glaciers melt, water levels in the ocean go up and it destroys the ecological system of the coastal areas because these floods engulf the coastal dry lands. Global temperature interferes with the balance and the length of the seasons.
This will affect farmers who sow their seeds in a particular time predicting to be harvested at a particular time. “Farmers are planting the seeds according to the seasons and rain, but since the rains are getting disturbed and also the climate is getting shifted, the sowing time is difficult to predict, which will lead to poor production hence shortage of food grains” (Global warming, 2008). Marine life is also under extinction threats due to global temperature change. Many marine species have already succumbed to high temperatures in the seas.
Penguins which live in coral leafs are the worst affected. Global warming leads to the destruction of the coral reefs and this leads to the interference in penguin’s life cycle resulting to many deaths. Also global warming leads to the retreat of ice in the sea. Though sea water absorbs sun’s heat, this ice reflects back some of the heat. If this ice melts away, sea water will get hot leading to the rise in temperature. According to a report made by the IPCC Fourth Assessment, it was predicted that forest fires will increase in some regions of the world like in the Mediterranean Europe.
Global warming has no direct link to the bush fires but the thing is, there will be shortage of rain in those regions thus increasing the chances of forest fires being spread in large scale. When fire burns, carbon dioxide is emitted to the air and since this fire will clear all the remaining vegetations that would absorb some carbon dioxide, a lot of carbon dioxide will be released more than the natural cycle can handle and what will result is global warming due to green house effects. (Natural Resources Defense Council)
Global warming also destroys the ozone layer that is in the atmosphere. This layer prevents the harmful sunrays such as ultra violet rays from reaching the earth. These rays lead to increased cases of skin cancer. To conclude this research paper, it is in order to say that global warming leads to the rise of the average global temperatures and have serious consequences on the environment. The main contributor of global warming is human activities although to some extent some natural factors such as alteration of the earth orbit could result to temperature rise.
Global changes started to be witnessed in the mid 19th century but of late the effect are many and on the increasing trend. Its many effects have served as an awakening call to many governments to come up with various strategies that could help to reverse the trend. Global warming mostly results from fossil fuels which emit carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. These greenhouse gases include; ozone, methane, water vapors and nitrogen dioxide.
What these gases do is that they trap hot air that is trying to escape from the ground resulting to overheating of both the ocean and ground surfaces. The effects of global warming are many and includes; rise in temperatures, forest fire outbreaks, thawing and retreat of glaciers, overflowing of rivers and lakes, disruption in the balance of seasons, extinction of some species especially those that live in seas, desertification, coastal lands being engulfed by floods and increase in diseases such as cancer and malaria.
Global Warming. Global Warming Awareness. 2008. Accessed on October 30, 2008 from http://www. globalwarming. org. in/global-warming-facts. php Houghton J. Theodore. Global Warming: The Complete Briefing. Cambridge University Press, 2004 Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Global Warming: Consequences. 2008. Available at http://www. nrdc. org/globalWarming/fcons.
asp Silverstein, A. and Nunn, L. S. Global Warming. Twenty-First Century Books, 2003 Watson R. The Natural Causes of Global Warming. 2007 http://www. associatedcontent. com/article/300649/the_natural_causes_of_global_ warming. html? cat=47 Weart S. R. The Discovery of Global Warming. Harvard University Press, 2003. Victor, David G. The Collapse of the Kyoto Protocol and the Struggle to Slow Global Warming: And the Struggle to Slow Global Warming. Princeton University Press, 2001
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