Nowadays, almost everyone heard at least something about global warming. But, it is not only the change of the climate, but also, the consequences of it. Usually, the term is used to describe a gradual increase in the average temperature of the Earth's atmosphere and its oceans, a change that is believed to be permanently changing the Earth’s climate. However, not every scientist believes the global warming is real. But, the data and facts say the planet is warming.
Interestingly, the humans knew about global warming even in the late 1800s, but did little to prevent it. So, today, people need not only to minimize the usage of the source, but also, to ease the results.
Amy Farrar believes the Earth was created nearly 4.6 years ago, and during this period its climate changed a lot of times. There were several ice ages, during which almost all the planet was covered in glaciers. Farrar notes, that between ice ages, “global temperatures have been as high as they are now.”
There are some reasons caused the climate change. Firstly, “changes in the sun’s intensity and in earth’s position relative to the sun affected temperatures.” Secondly, there are massive volcanic eruptions. Also, increases in animal lives caused the rise of the carbon-dioxide level in the atmosphere.
In her work Global warming, the author claims that after several years of the research, scientists finally found out that “the most recent global warming has been caused not by natural forces but by human activities,” to be exactly, the effect of greenhouse gases emitted by humans.
There were no facts in human history until now that Earth was warming up so quickly and for such a long period. That was for the first time, when the level of greenhouse gas surged as well. In the past, all the gas excess was naturally absorbed. “Today, however, carbon dioxide levels have increased by more than a third since the 1850s.” Even if people decided to stop using all polluters it would take thousands of years to stabilize the situation.
Ramesha Chandrappa and Sushil Gupta and Umesh Chandra Kuishrestha, are sure that “development of civilization would have not happened without carbon emission in most cases.”
In ancient times, when people decided not to lead a nomadic way of living, their energy requirements in wood as a main source rose. By the 1280s, people started to use coal “for fuel processes such as limekilns and metalworking,” which greatly populated air with black smoke and oxides of sulphur.
Siegfried Fred Singer, Dennis T. Avery in their book Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years mention about other evidences of global warming over the history. They say that “the Romans had recorded a warming from about 200 B.C. to A.D. 600.”
Next date is crucial in understanding global warming changes over the history. This is 1760, when the Industrial Revolution happened in the UK and was followed by other European countries in several years. Even now, coal plays an important role in the world’s primary energy mix, “providing 23.5 percent of the global primary energy and 39 percent of the world’s electricity.” With the development of the Industrial Revolution, the threat of global warming and climate change grew.
However, in her article, Katia Moskvitch described the following research. Recently, the group of the geoscientists Douwe van der Meer has made a deep analysis of earthquake waves by traveling through Earth. The main aim of it was to show “how variations in plate tectonics have led to variations in CO2 emissions from volcanoes 250 million years ago.” After all examinations of Earth, they have made a surprising consequence. The point is that during the Dinosaur Era the Earth produced twice as much CO2 as there is today. The reason for this was tectonic movements, which made the oceans close up and the tectonic plates sink into the Earth. As a result, “this process led to volcanism at the surface, with rocks constantly melting and emitting CO2 into the atmosphere.” That is how, according to Douwe van der Meer the greenhouse gas changed the climate during the Jurassic Period into extremely humid and warm.
Besides, according to Singer and Avery, there was a Medieval Warming on the territory of Europe and Asia “that lasted from 900 to 1300.” It was called the Medieval Climate Optimum because of its mild winters, stable seasons, and lack of severe storms.” This means that scientists have a lot of material to study from the history in order to prevent further global warming and its consequences.
Still, there is a minority of scientists, who rejects the existence of global warming and human’s fault in it. As an argument they say that during the whole Earth’s history the temperature was not stable, and it was changing like it does now.
But, the problem is that the climate changes much faster than it was thousands of years ago, and some animals and other living creatures are not able to adapt so fast. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calculated that the difference between average global temperatures today and during those ice ages is only about 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit), and these swings happen slowly, over hundreds of thousands of years.
Besides, the scientists from IPCC found different ways how humans emit different types of the greenhouse gases. “Most come from the combustion of fossil fuels in cars, factories and electricity production.” This is carbon dioxide, also called CO2, the gas responsible for the most warming in the world. Other mixtures of gases include methane released from landfills and agriculture, nitrous oxide from fertilizers, gases used for refrigeration and industrial processes. Also, essential cause of increasing global warming is the loss of forests that would absorb CO2.
Interesting thing was mentioned in What Causes Global Warming? It was about different greenhouse gases, which have different heat-trapping abilities. Some gases can trap even more heat than CO2, for instance, a molecule of methane produces 20 times more warming than a molecule of CO2; nitrous oxide is 300 times more powerful. Only because the concentration of these gases much lower than CO2, the letter remains to be the largest source of air pollution. According to the IPCC, “since 1990, yearly emissions have gone up by about 6 billion metric tons of ‘carbon dioxide equivalent’ worldwide, more than a 20 percent increase.”
The planet is warming, from North Pole to South Pole, and everywhere in between. Globally, the mercury is already up more than 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.8 degree Celsius), and even higher in some polar regions. The effects of rising temperatures are seen right now.
Signs are appearing all over, and some of them are surprising. “The heat is not only melting glaciers and sea ice, it’s also shifting precipitation patterns and setting animals on the move.”
IPCC described the most visible changes. Firstly, ice is melting worldwide, especially at the Earth’s poles, including West Antarctica and Greenland, and Arctic sea ice. Secondly, the number of Adélie penguins on Antarctica declined considerably, from 32,000 breeding pairs to 11,000 in 30 years, because animals were not ready for such increase in temperature. Also, as it was mentioned in the 8 Ways Global Warming Is Already Changing the World, “Species are straying from their native habitats at an unprecedented rate: 11 miles (17.6 km) toward the poles per decade.” Areas with growing temperature have become the most straying by native organisms.
Next, the sea level growth became faster throughout the last century. Some species of butterflies, foxes, and alpine plants have moved to much cooler areas. Also, the average amount of rain and snowfall increased noticeably across the globe.
Regarding further changes, it is expected that the situation will be worse if global society continues polluting the air in the same way. So, sea levels are predicted to rise “between 7 and 23 inches (18 and 59 centimeters) by the end of the century, and continued melting at the poles could add between 4 and 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters).” Earth would struggle with stronger and more frequent hurricanes, storms and tsunamis.
Less fresh water would be available not only for humans, but also for all animals. As a result, some diseases would spread, such as malaria carried by mosquitoes.
An understandable graph (see figure 1) about global warming solutions was created by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
The first and the most important step is to reduce carbon pollution. NRDC estimates “that emissions from existing power plants could be reduced by 26 percent by 2020 at very modest costs and significant economic and health and welfare benefits.”
Source: “Global Warming Solutions,” Natural Resources Defense Council, accessed April 9, 2014, http://www.nrdc.org/globalWarming/solutions/default.asp.
Investing in clean energy industries, such as wind and solar, as well as energy efficiency programs and retooling manufacturing plants can lead to slowing up the global warming and made “a new clean energy economy.”
Driving smarter cars would break human’s ‘oil addiction’, as one of the sources of air pollution. As for creating green building, this can make them more energy efficient. Buildings and the appliances are known to be the third of global warming emissions. Thus, new energy-efficiency standards for new or existing homes should be created.
The fifth step can be strange at the first sight. However, building transportation hubs can decline the amount of fuel cars use to reach the destination. Still, the best way is to encourage people to get places by bicycles and not to use car at all.
Chandrappa, Ramesha, Gupta, Sushil and Kuishrestha, Umesh Chandra. Coping with Climate Change. Springer Dordrecht Heidelberg London New York, 2011.
Farrar, Amy. Global Warming. Edina, Minnesota: ABDO Publishing Company, 2008.
“Global Warming Solutions.” Natural Resources Defense Council. Accessed April 9, 2014. http://www.nrdc.org/globalWarming/solutions/default.asp.
Katia Moskovitch. “Dinosaur Era Had 5 Times Today's CO2.” Livescience. Last modified March 24, 2014. http://www.livescience.com/44330-jurassic-dinosaur-carbon-dioxide.html
Pappas, Stephanie. “8 Ways Global Warming Is Already Changing the World,” livescience. Last modified September 7, 2012. http://www.livescience.com/23026-global-warming-changing-world.html
Singer, Siegfried Fred, Avery, Dennis T. Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2007.
“What Causes Global Warming?,” National Geographic. Accessed April 7, 2014. http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/gw-causes.