Global warming has become a major issue discussed over Medias and governments all over the world today. It is a problem that threatens the whole world because of the destructive impacts it can have on us humans and to the environment. Global warming is not a new phenomenon. It is often referred to as the gradual rise of the earths near surface temperature as a result of increased emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities. The green house gases are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen, ozone and water vapor, they act as a blanket that traps enough heat from the sun to warm the earth. This is the green house effect as it is essential to life, for without it the earth would be so cold and would be uninhabitable.
If not enough are in the air then the earth would become cold, but if too many gases are released into the air, then we have the problem of things heating up. The releasing of green house gases by humans slowly warm the earth, potentially changing the world’s climate pattern causing sea levels to rise and more disastrous effects. Now that the causes and effects of global warming are known, there can be strategies done to minimize its causes and effects. To achieve this countries and individuals have to work together to fight global warming, agreements made at the Kyoto Protocol is to minimize burning of fossil fuels in world leading countries of greenhouse gas emission including the United States and China.
The earth’s atmosphere is made up of gases; carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor and nitrogen, these gases are known as the greenhouse gases, they trap heat from the sun to warm the earth. Without them the earth would be so cold. Most scientists believe that the sharp increase of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere is warming the earth’s climate. Gases such as carbon dioxide, CFC and methane are the most released gases due to daily human activities. Exhaust from automobiles, smokes from coal fired power plants and deforestation are the major contributors to greenhouse gas emission. The largest greenhouse gas emitters are the densely populated and more developed countries such as the United States, China and Russia.
Motor vehicles are the highest emitter of greenhouse gas; they produce high levels of carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide which is released into the atmosphere. Another major source is the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and wood) by power plants to generate electricity. In 2003 the United States released more than 5 million tons of gases from power plant alone. An increase of forest fires or deforestation for land clearing has lessened the amount of trees. Trees play a vital role in trapping carbon dioxide, when deforestation occurs more carbon dioxide is released. The Amazon is the largest carbon dioxide forest emitter (Protecting Forests). Any resource consuming method releasing quantities of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide or even water vapor contributes to the effect (Tapia 2007). These mass emissions of greenhouse gases cause the atmosphere to trap more heat thus leading to the warming of the earth.
As the temperature rises the earth becomes hotter and hotter causing polar ice caps and glaciers across the globe to melt. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a scientific body tasked to evaluate the risk of climate change caused by human activity, has released their latest report (Summary for Policy Makers 2007) on how global warming is affecting the earth. The report shows that the “sea ice in the arctic is shrinking in all seasons, most dramatically in summer….Important coastal regions of the ice sheets on Greenland and West Antarctica, and the glaciers of the Antarctic Peninsula, are thinning and contributing to sea level rise”( IPCC 2007, p.109). Another cause of sea level rise is the thermal expansion of water; this means that the increase in the earth’s temperature heats the ocean causing it to expand. The combination of water from melting glaciers, ice sheets and the thermal expansion causes sea level to rise.
Rising of sea level leads to erosion and flooding but the most disastrous of all is the drowning of low lying islands and cites, the island of Tuvalu is slowly sinking from the rising in sea level. A warmer ocean can change weather patterns and could cause extreme weather events as already experienced in 2005 weather condition caused number of tornadoes and hurricanes in the United States and Asia( Tapia, 2007). The continuous rise in temperature and melting of ice caps is changing the landscapes in the artic circle making it uninhabitable for animal species including polar bears, seals and whales because they are only adapted to cold climate. Other effects include severe droughts in dry climate areas such as Africa has already leaded to famine. Fatal heat waves have already triggered massive bush fires in Australia and Europe, not only that but these heat waves could cause skin cancer. The IPCC’s report concluded that if the temperature continues to rise within the next 50 years or so, its effects on us humans and our planet will be more disastrous (IPCC, 2007). However there could be strategies done to prevent global warming and its effects.
Since us humans are the main source of global warming we are the only ones that can prevent its causes to minimize its devastating effects. As mentioned before that human activities such coal power plant emissions and deforestation are amongst the leaders of carbon dioxide emitters. Large industrialized countries should cut down the level of carbon dioxide emitted from coal fired power plants. The Kyoto protocol is an agreement made under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), their goal is to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases in large industrialized countries such as the United States (Kyoto Protocol 2008). Another step is the banning of coal fired power plants, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies told the “Terra Daily” that “There should be a moratorium on building any more coal-fired power plants until the technology to capture and sequester the (carbon dioxide emissions) is available,” he believes that the suspension of coal fired power plant is the key to cutting carbon dioxide emission (Staff Writers, 2007).
Moreover we could use energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar power because it is much cleaner than fossil fuels. For example, more than 40 percent of the US states is increasingly using renewable energy because it is more affordable and cleaner than fossil fuel (Clean Energy, 2007). While reducing industrial emissions is critically important, we should also stop deforestation of rainforests such as the Amazon where trees are cut down, burned and cleared for agriculture and cattle grazing (Forest Holocaust & Protecting Forests). We could stop deforestation and replant more and more trees to replace the fallen trees.
Simmons (2005, September 11). 5 deadliest effects of Global Warming, Retrieved February 28 2008 from http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/sciencetech/5-deadliest-effects-of-global-warming/276Staff Writers (2007, February 27). Climate Science, retrieved March 2 2008 from