Changing Shades of Our Planet

Categories: Planet In Crisis

The earth is what we all have in common, this is the planet that we all belongs to and if this planet is not safe how can we be safe? Currently, the earth is facing an unusual climate change. Climate change in the world can be caused by various activities. It can be caused by natural disaster or by us, humans. When climate change occurs; temperatures can increase dramatically. It has an immense side effect on the planet, humankind, and our future.

Climate change is something that is heard all the time in today’s news along with the term Global Warming. So what things are causing these climate changes and the global warming? What is affecting our planet and how exactly can we make it a better place to live in?

Global warming refers to an increase in the earth’s average atmospheric temperature that cause corresponding modification in climate and that may result the greenhouse impact .Since the industrial revolution began in the 1700s, people have added a significant amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, largely by burning fossil fuels to generate electricity, heat and cool buildings, and power vehicles as well as by clearing forests.

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The major greenhouse gases that people have added to the atmosphere are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases. When these gases are released into the atmosphere and remain there for long time periods, ranging from a decade to thousands of years. Past emissions affect our atmosphere in the present day, current and future emissions will continue to increase the levels of these gases in our atmosphere for the foreseeable future.

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“Greenhouse gases (GHG)” got their name because they trap heat (energy) like a greenhouse in the lower part of the atmosphere. As more of these gases are added to the atmosphere, more heat is trapped. This extra heat leads to higher air temperatures near the Earth’s surface, alters weather patterns, and raises the temperature of the earth.

Global warming is a result of Environmental Degradation. The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction defines environmental degradation as ‘the reduction of the capacity of the environment to meet social and ecological objectives, and needs’. Different kinds of human activities are the main reason of environmental degradation, but it encompasses a much broader area than just pollution and touches upon all geographical regions of existence – air, water and land. The major cause of the environmental pollution are modern urbanization, industrialization, over population growth, deforestation etc. This has brought about environment changes that have become harmful to all living beings. Unplanned urbanization and industrialization have caused water, air and sound pollution. The smoke emitted by vehicles and industries like Chlorofluorocarbon(CFC),nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and other dust particles pollute air. The excessive use of natural resources diminishes these resources and creates imbalance of the environment. Environmental changing is under normal circumstances associated with human activities, natural causes are also contributors. Natural causes such as wildfires, hurricanes, landslides, tsunamis and earthquakes etc.

As stated by The Union of Concerned Scientists (July 27, 2017),“human activities that release pollutants into the atmosphere cause ozone depletion and global warming”.Interactions between ozone and global warming have been subjects of discussion ever since the early 1970s,when scientists first suggested that human-produced chemicals could destroy our ozone shield in the upper atmosphere. The discussion intensified in 1985 when atmospheric scientists discovered an ozone ‘hole’ in the upper atmosphere (stratosphere) over Antarctica. The term ‘ozone hole’ refers to the depletion of the protective ozone layer in the upper atmosphere (stratosphere) over earth’s Polar Regions. People, plants, and animals living under the ozone hole are harmed by the solar radiation now reaching the earth’s surface, it causes health problems, from eye damage to skin cancer. Scientists also discovered that the thinning in the ozone layer was caused by increasing concentrations of ozone-depleting chemicals such as,chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs (compounds with chlorine and/or fluorine attached to carbon) and to a lesser extent halogens (similar compounds with bromine or iodine). These chemicals can remain in the atmosphere for decades to over a century and increasing earth’s temperature. Heat-trapping gases (GHG’s) in the atmosphere lead to ozone depletion. Greenhouse gases absorb heat at relatively low altitudes and warm the surface.

Climate change is primarily a problem of too much carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. This carbon overload is caused mainly when we burn fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas or cut down and burn forests. Since the industrial revolution, human activities such as the burning of oil, coal and gas, as well as deforestation have greatly increased CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. The Swedish meteorologist Nils Ekholm remarked “if the present burning of pit-coal continues for some thousand years, it will undoubtedly cause a very obvious rise in the mean temperature of the earth, it seems possible that man will be able efficaciously to regulate the future climate of the earth”. Almost all CO2 emissions (about 96.5%) come from fossil fuel use.Unchecked burning of fossil fuels could drive carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to levels unseen in 50 million years,according to a study,published in the journal Nature Communications.In this study,scientists agree that carbon dioxide is the primary heat-trapping gas that contributes to man-made global warming.This gas controls temperature because the carbon dioxide molecules in the air absorb infrared radiation.When the carbon dioxide concentration is sufficiently high, even its weaker absorption bands become effective and a greater amount of infrared radiation is absorbed. The carbon dioxide blanket prevents its escape into space; the trapped radiation warms up the atmosphere.

Evidence shows that human activities influence the global climate system.  Professor James Hansen said “The evidence for human-made climate change is overwhelming”. The most important driver of deforestation is agriculture. Farmers cut jungles to provide more room for planting crops or grazing livestock. Often, small farmers will clear a few acres by cutting down trees and burning them in a process known as slash and burn agriculture. Trees play an important role in absorbing the greenhouse gases that gas responsible for global warming. Fewer forests mean larger amounts of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere and increased speed and severity of global warming. Deforestation is one of the main contributors to climate change. It is the second largest anthropogenic source of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, after fossil fuel combustion. Deforestation and woodland degradation make contribution to atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions through combustion of wooded area biomass and decomposition of remaining plant material and soil carbon. It used to account for more than 20% of carbon dioxide emissions, but it’s currently somewhere around the 10%.By 2008,deforestation was 12 percent of total CO2.Deforestation can impact climate on local and worldwide scales by means of changes within the energy, mass and momentum fluxes between climate subsystems energy reservoirs.In deforested areas, the land heats up faster and reaches a higher temperature, leading to localized upward motions that enhance the formation of clouds and in the produce more rainfall. When the rains fall, they come in heavy downpours doubtlessly leading to more floods. The recent flooding in California – which followed a very extreme and prolonged drought, provides a great example.

The climate of our planet is changing at a pace unlike anything seen in the natural fluctuations traced across geological records, and scientists overwhelmingly traced this global warming trend to human activity. One important way to track and communicate the causes and effects of global warming is through the use of indicators. An indicator represents the state or trend of certain environmental or societal conditions over a given area and a specified period of time. For example, long-term measure­ments of temperature in the United States and globally are used as an indicator to track and better understand the effects of changes in the Earth’s climate. In 1988, the United Nations Environment Program and the World Meteorological Organization established a panel of 200 leading scientists to consider the evidence. The panel concluded that global air temperature had increased 0.6°C since 1861.The panel said “the warming was caused primarily by human-induced developmental activities that add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere”. The summers are now extremely hot, winters excessively cold. One consequence of global warming is an increase in both ocean evaporation into the atmosphere, and the amount of water vapor the atmosphere can hold. High levels of water vapor in the atmosphere in turn create conditions more favorable for heavier precipitation in the form of intense rain and snowstorms.

One of the most terrible impacts of anthropogenic climate change is a rise in the global sea level caused by the melting of glaciers and land-based ice caps, as well as a smaller increase from expansion due to the higher temperature of the water itself. A warming climate can cause seawater to expand and ice over land to melt, each of that can cause a rise in sea level. Glaciers melting are an early warning signs and symptoms of global warming. The melting fresh water from glaciers alters the ocean, directly contributing to the global sea level rise. According to NASA’s Operation Ice Bridge, “Arctic sea ice hit record-low extents in both the fall and winter of 2015 and 2016, meaning that at the time when the ice is supposed to be at its peak, it was lagging”. The melt means there is less thick sea ice that persists for multiple years. That means less heat is reflected back into the atmosphere by the shiny surface of the ice and more is absorbed by the comparatively darker ocean, creating a feedback loop that causes even more melt. Andrew Watson, a Royal Society research professor at Exeter University, said “Sea level responds directly to global temperatures, but slowly, so that the full extent of sea level rise will only be apparent over thousands of years. In the long term, sea level will rise six meters at least in response to the warming we are causing”. According to United State Environmental Protection Agency, the average global sea level has increased eight inches since 1880,but is rising much faster on the U.S. East Coast and Gulf of Mexico. Global warming is now accelerating the rate of sea level rise, increasing flooding risks to low-lying communities and high-risk coastal properties.

Human-induced global warming increases heavy downpours, cause more extensive storm surges due to sea level rise, and leads to more rapid spring snowmelt. Extreme storms like these have become more common as global temperatures have risen and the oceans have warmed.’Of course there is a climate change connection, because the oceans and sea surface temperatures are higher now because of climate change, and in general that adds 5 to 10 percent to the precipitation,’ Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Warm ocean temperatures are one of the key factors that strengthen hurricane development. For example, Hurricane Katrina intensified significantly when it hit deep pools of warm water in the Gulf of Mexico.

Snowfall is an important aspect of winter in much of the United States. Warmer temperatures cause more water to evapo­rate from the land and oceans, which leads to more precipitation, larger storms, and more variation in precipitation in some areas. In general, a warmer climate will cause more of this precipitation to fall in the form of rain instead of snow. Some places could see more snowfall, however, if temperatures rise but still remain below the freezing point, or if storm tracks change. Changes in the amount and timing of snowfall could affect the spawning of fish in the spring and the amount of water available for people to use in the spring and summer. Changes in snowfall could also affect winter recreation activities, like skiing, and communities that rely on these activities. According to Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA),the total snowfall has decreased in many parts of the country since widespread observations became available in 1930, with 57 percent of stations showing a decline. Among all of the stations shown, the average change is a decrease of 0.19% per year.

Climate change could cause lake effect snow season to shorten, shift later into the winter. Lake effect snow requires cold air to cross over a relatively warmer body of water. The Earth’s warm temperatures cause the lake temperatures to stay warm and ice-free longer into the winter. This can cause the lake-effect snow season to get a later start and be shorter than what occurs today by the end of the 21st century. According to a recent study by climate scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Nelson Institute Center for Climactic Research, “lake effect snow will continue to make modest increases over the next few decades. But in the late 21st century, as the air continues to warm, the amount of lake effect snow from the Great Lakes is expected to decrease, with more of the precipitation falling as rain”. Like other climate changes, lake effect snow has been impacted by the warming of the planet from an increase in greenhouse gases. Increasing water temperatures in the Great Lakes will decrease the amount of lake effect snow by the end of the century, according to a study of Courtesy Climate Central. Global warming can cause heavy snow too. According to US Geological Survey (USGS),in December 2009 and February 2010, several American East Coast cities experienced back-to-back record-breaking snowfalls. These events were popularly dubbed “Snowmageddon” and “Snowpocalypse.” Such events are consistent with the effects of global warming, which is expected to cause more heavy precipitation because of a greater amount of water vapor in the atmosphere.

The worldwide warming temperature and the changing weather due to the greenhouse-gas emissions, leading to a rise in the incidence of wildfires. Climate change result longer, warmer and drier summers as a way to increase the frequency of large wildfires and the duration of fire seasons.Trees stressed and killed by higher summer temperatures and drier soils end up flammable plants that serves as kindling. The effects of global warming on temperature, precipitation levels and soil moisture are turning many of our forests into kindling all through wildfire season. IN the western U.S warmer winters have enabled pine beetles to survive longer, reproduce more and extend their range into higher-elevation areas. Between 2000 and 2013, beetles destroyed 47.6 million acres of forests, an area larger than North Dakota. “As it gets warmer, the area burned increases exponentially as a function of temperature,” explained Park Williams, an assistant research professor. Wildfires, which are intensified by global warming, additionally exacerbate global warming. While forests and healthy soil normally absorb carbon dioxide, fires cause the discharge of carbon dioxide from plant and soil into the atmosphere, trapping ever extra heat.

As global temperatures continue to upward, droughts are predicted to become more common and extreme in lots of areas all through this century. There is high confidence that increased temperatures will cause to more precipitation falling as rain in place of snow, in advance snow melt, and increased evaporation and transpiration. Without rain, soils can dry out and plants can die. A drought is a period of drier than normal conditions that results in water related issues. Precipitation (rain or snow) falls in uneven patterns across the country. When rainfall is less than normal for several weeks, months, or years, the flow of streams and rivers declines, water levels in lakes and reservoirs fall, and the intensity to water in wells will increase. If dry weather persists and water-supply problems develop, the dry period can become a drought ( Moreland, 1993).Climate change increases the chances of worsening drought in many parts of the United States and the world in the decades ahead. According to Environmental Defense Fund, “Regions such as California has officially entered its fourth consecutive year of drought, and is trapped in its worst water shortage situation. IN 2011, Texas experienced its driest 12 months ever. At the peak of the 2012 drought, an astounding 81 percent of the contiguous United States was under at least abnormally dry conditions”.

Global warming has significant implications for our health. All of climate changes could pose serious, and costly, risks to public health. A changing climate affects the range of plants and animals, changing their behavior and causing disruptions up and down the food chain. Global warming also destructs coral reefs. These elevated temperatures cause long-term damage to coral reefs.

Barack Obama said, “We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it”. Solution of global warming cannot be achieved by a small group of people but require the whole world to be united in order to defeat this universal environmental problem. By adapting to unavoidable climate change and mitigating future greenhouse gas emissions are required to manage the risks of extreme weather in a warmer climate. Some of the ways can reduce the possibility of Global Warming like plantation of trees, proper and limited use of natural resources of water, coal, electricity and habit of using the renewal energy which are solar, wind and hydro electrical. We need to save our planet from changing its natural color. The situation is urgent. We must stop adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

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Changing Shades of Our Planet. (2022, Apr 02). Retrieved from

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