Among the various issues faced by societies globally is the danger associated with the so-called global warming or climate change. Although often used interchangeably, global warming and climate change are two different scenarios that have synergistic relationship. Defined as the overall increase in the global temperature due to excessive accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, global warming differs from climate change which is defined as the abnormally drastic change in climate patterns which have started since the beginning of the 20th century. Despite their differences, global warming and climate change are often seen as two inseparable phenomena. The probable reason for this is the fact that one does not exist without the other. Although both are often heard in the news and other broadcasting platforms, they are actually poorly understood. As a result of this, the risks and dangers associated with global warming and climate change are often underestimated and misinterpreted. Concerning this, this paper will focus on answering the question of how and why global warming and climate change are dangerous. What are the dangers and risks that are actually associated with this social problem? In order to answer this, this paper will first tackle global warming and climate change as a social issue. Following this, this paper will tackle the theories associated with the development of global warming and climate change. Lastly, the paper will tackle the risks and dangers associated with global warming and climate change and the importance of analyzing those.
The issue regarding climate change and global warming is oftentimes surrounded by various controversies. One of these is the debate on whether global warming and climate change are actually happening. As claimed by some scientists who also specialize on climatology and environmental sciences, the phenomena of climate change and global warming are nothing but mere overestimation of what is naturally supposed to happen in the environment since the commencement of the industrial era (Taylor). As insisted by a well-known climatologist, John Coleman, global warming and climate change are overly sensationalized despite the fact that they do not actually exist (Taylor). Attacking the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Coleman claimed that the usual standards considered to determine or prove the presence of global warming and climate change are overestimated (Taylor). For example, the polar ice which was often claimed to be melting away due to global warming and climate change is actually increasing and the number of polar bears residing in this region is actually increasing, not diminishing as often reported (Taylor). Aside from this, the heat waves claimed to increase due to the said phenomena are actually diminishing and the strength of storms which was reported to increase because of global warming and climate change is actually diminishing (Taylor). In short, global warming and climate change are considered to be nonexistent but overly sensationalized. However, a greater population of experts on the matter claims that global warming and climate change are real and both are happening nowadays. As claimed by this group, the estimates and analysis used by experts who refute the reality of global warming and climate change are often miscalculated and misinterpreted (Javeline, Hellman, Cornejo, & Shufeldt 666). Scientists who promulgate the belief that climate change and global warming are real largely consider the manifestations of the said phenomena on the environment. The rise in sea levels, increased storm surges, flooding, and massive movements and melting of glaciers in the polar regions of the world are some of the commonly addressed manifestations of global warming and climate change (Stephens & Kille). Although other scientists deny the actuality of global warming and climate change, the realness of their manifestations is hard to deny. Truly, the debate regarding the reality of global warming and climate change just shows how poorly understood the issue is nowadays. But what really is global warming and climate change? How do they emerge and what are the factors that contribute to their development?
Defined respectively as the overall warming of the world and drastic change in climate patterns, global warming and climate change are often associated with theories. Among these is the hypothesis that global warming and climate change are caused by humans and are anthropogenic in nature. Anthropogenic theory regarding global warming and climate change explains that the infrared rays emitted by earth’s surface as a by-product of sun rays that pass through the earth’s atmosphere are not fully released (“Anthropogenic Global Warming Theory”). The reason for this is the accumulation of gases emitted by man-made machines and other structures that trap the infrared rays in the surface of the earth (“Anthropogenic Global Warming Theory”). Most of these gases are carbon dioxide produced by burning of fossil fuels of coal (“Anthropogenic Global Warming Theory”; Biello). Such accumulation of gases results in an increase in the overall global temperature which may result in increased precipitation and drastic changes in climate patterns (“Anthropogenic Global Warming Theory”). Given this theory of global warming and climate change, increased awareness regarding the issue is being raised worldwide and in connection to this, risk assessment in connection to the issue has been very prevalent.
Global warming and climate change entail a set of risks and dangers that may impose serious damage to mankind and other living beings in the planet. As estimated by the experts on the matter, abnormal and excessive rise of sea levels, drastic changes in climate patterns, movement and melting of glaciers, and extinction or massive reduction of various species of animals and plants are all signs of the reality of climate change and global warming. Considered as one of the hallmarks of global warming and climate change, the rise of sea levels is becoming increasingly prevalent and can be observed in various regions around the world. In USA, the state of Miami experiences the so-called “sunny-day flooding” or the flooding that is not caused by rainfall (Stephens & Kille). This sunny-day flooding in Miami is actually caused by the excessive rise in saltwater (Stephens & Kille). Aside from Miami, Virginia is also experiencing a recurrent flooding due to a rise in sea level despite the absence of rainfall as reported by the U.S. Army based in that state (Stephens & Kille). Apart from the USA, London is also experiencing the same fate. The rise of sea level in London has been very excessive that the Thames Barrier is now being used twice as much as it was originally designed to (Stephens & Kille). Indeed, abrupt and seemingly uncontrollable rises in sea level are resulting in flood in many countries worldwide which strongly suggest the prevalence of global warming and climate change. But aside from the abrupt and unexpected rises in sea levels, the drastic changes in climate patterns are also seen as indicative of global warming and climate change.
The incidences of abruptly-changing climate patterns are undoubtedly observed worldwide. Generally characterized by an abrupt shift of a sunny day to a rainy one or vice-versa, climate change poses serious risks for the environment. Among the many negative effects of climate change is the possible mass extinction of animals and plants whose survival depend strongly on the stability of climate (Biello). Among these animals are the polar bears of the Arctic and Antarctic Polar Regions and other animals that are designed to live in hotter areas (Biello). The drastically changing climate often leaves such animals in an unbalanced environment that normally disrupts their normal life cycles. Aside from the possible massive extinction of climate-dependent animals, drastically changing climate and global warming also compromise the quality of air available for breathing (Jacob & Winner 51). The high emission of ozone pollutants brought about by the global warming in addition to drastically changing weather result in compromised and polluted air quality (Jacob & Winner 51). The presence of oxidized CO2, methane, and non-methane volatile organic compounds all contribute to the pollution of air present in the environment and such compounds are by-products of the ongoing climate change and global warming (Jacob & Winner 51). The melting of glaciers is also seen as indicative of climate change and global warming (Biello). Glaciers nowadays are diminishing rapidly due to global warming and climate change which may impact everything starting from atmospheric circulation to global shipping (Biello). In addition to this, snowcaps of various high mountains and ice sheets are also greatly diminishing due to global warming and climate change (Biello). Aside from the melting of glaciers, snowcaps, and ice sheets, climate change and global warming also affect oceans.
The continuing global warming and climate change cause serious changes in oceans’ temperature and composition. Due to global warming and climate change, ocean temperature increases which results in the alteration of the environment for the biodiversity in ocean. Aside from the increased ocean temperature, ocean acidification also takes place which results from the emission of carbon dioxide in the upper layer of the oceans which also affects the biodiversity located there (Fabry, Seibel, Feely, & Orr 414). Aside from changes in the ocean, global warming and climate change may also contribute to the occurrence of typhoons and other extreme event in the environment.
Global warming and climate change also impose serious risks in the health of mankind. The increased heat caused by global warming may actually be translated into increased and longer heat waves which may increase heat-related illnesses and mortality (EPA). Aside from this, warmer temperatures caused by both global warming and climate change may increase the concentration of pollutants in air and water (EPA). Apart from this, the drastic changes in global temperature, precipitation patterns, and other extreme environmental events may promote the spread of diseases and increase the likelihood of the public getting affected (EPA). Extreme floods, high winds, and other dangerous direct threats caused by global warming and climate change may all contribute to loss of property and lives (EPA). Aside from these commonly addressed negative factors of global warming and climate change on health, another study have revealed the role played by global warming and climate change on the prevalence of malaria. A disease caused by the protozoans belonging to the genus Plasmodium, malaria is transmitted to person through bites of mosquitoes belonging to the genus Anopheles (Caminade, Kovats, Rocklov, Tompkins, Morse, Colón-González, Stenlund, Martens, & Lloyd 3286). The transmission of malaria highly depends on the climate as well as in the capacity of local authorities to control the spread of the disease (Caminade et al. 3286). Malaria may be highly observable during rainy seasons where precipitation and moist environments promote the growth and breeding of the mosquitoes that transmit the infectious agents (Caminade et al. 3286). Since precipitation is highly increased by the drastically changing climate patterns, incidences of malaria may also be increased (Caminade et al. 3286). Considering all the negative risks associated with global warming and climate change, it is important to assess the possible methods through which global warming and climate change may be solved or alleviated.
Considering the main culprit to be the excessive emission of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels of coal, experts have frequently pointed out the need to substantially reduce the amount of CO2 emitted every year (Biello). With the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere estimated to be above 400 parts-per-million—amounts not seen in the last 3 million years, experts believed that the world has a reach a very dangerous level of carbon dioxide accumulation in the atmosphere which is enough to permanently alter the climate patterns and cycles globally (Biello). Considering all the risks associated with such finding, as discussed earlier in the paper, experts are also trying to formulate a way through which CO2 emissions may be significantly reduced. As a result of this, a campaign called the Global Carbon Project has been put forward since 2012 to significantly reduce the carbon dioxide emissions (Biello). But since the as much as 80% of world’s energy comes from fossil fuels of coal, oil, and natural gas, the problem of significantly reducing CO2 emissions becomes harder to solve (Biello). In response to this, experts on the matter have put great emphasis on the need to use other sources of energy that do not emit CO2 which include geothermal, hydropower, nuclear, solar, and wind (Biello). Apart from this, experts are also looking at the possibility of improving technology available nowadays to capture CO2 from non-reusable energy sources, such as fossil fuels, and permanently store it away to avoid its accumulation in the atmosphere and prevent the progression of global warming and climate change (Biello). Furthermore, experts have also estimated that in order to substantially prevent further global warming and climate change, the CO2 emissions must fall below 350 ppm (Biello). But since such rate is still not achieved despite earlier warnings and campaigns, experts say that there might be a need for a different approach that will yield faster changes (Biello). Estimating a 0.8°C increase in global temperature over the entire course of 20th century, experts insist that a system that will tax or put fees on carbon emissions may be the key solution to force everyone to partake in the movement to significantly reduce CO2 emissions (Biello). Although much plan has been laid out to solve the problem of global warming and climate change, a lot of work needs to be done to see actual results. Given the severity of the undeniable effects of climate change and global warming, experts had been calling out on governments to support the campaign against the progression of the two phenomena that largely threaten the stability of the planet nowadays.
Global warming and climate change have been the center of various environmental concerns and studies. Manifesting through a series of various changes in the natural environmental routine, global warming and climate change are seen as a massive threat to the current stability of the planet. However, despite their wide recognition, global warming and climate change are still at the center of debate of experts who claim that they are actually nonexistent and those who firmly believe that their presence is real and much needs to do to control it. Experts who deny the factuality of global warming and climate change often claim that the parameters used by the experts who believe in global warming and climate change are actually nonexistent and contrary to what is actually observable. Opposing experts, on the other hand, claim that the manifestations of global warming and climate change are actually hard to deny. Looking at the data presented by the scientists that claim global warming and climate change are actually happening, it would be easy to see that a lot of environmental routines have actually changed, affecting greatly everything in the planet. Considering this, it would be easier to grasp the idea that global warming and climate change are real and their manifestations need to be addressed. The manifestations of global warming and climate change are considered as risk. Among these risks are changes in the overall global temperature, drastic changes in climate patterns, alteration in the composition and temperature of oceans, melting away or dwindling of glaciers and other ice sheets, and gradual extinction of animals and other living beings that strongly depend on the stability of climate. Apart from this, the health of mankind is also among the most compromised factors associated with global warming and climate change. The change in the climate patterns, frequency of extreme natural disasters, and the increased pollution in air and water caused by global warming and climate change may all contribute to the prevalence of diseases and loss of lives and properties. Considering such extreme negative impacts associated with global warming and climate change, various experts have addressed the matter aiming to encourage the public and policymakers to partake in finding for alternatives to reduce CO2 emissions and therefore prevent the further progression of global warming and climate change.
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