Climate change is one of the global issues facing the world in the 21st century. Today, climate change has ceased to be a scientific curiosity as its effects are now being felt all over the world. Global warming is one of the results of climate change. But what is global warming?. Global warming can be defined as the warming near the earth's surface resulting from the earth's atmosphere trapping the sun's heat causing the earth to get warmer. Studies have shown that the changes are small, so far, but they are projected to speed up and grow with time. Scientists have predicted that within the next thirty two hundred and twenty years, the earth is likely to become warmer than it has been in the past 2 million years (Archer, 2012, p. 35). This means that glaciers will continue to melt, oceans get warmer, cities and cities and land along coasts get flooded. This paper will exclusively explore global warming. The paper will look at the causes, effects, and some of the things that can be done to reduce or prevent global warming.
Causes of global warming
Human beings are the main causes of global warming. The activities that human beings are doing today are the cause of global warming. This is because human beings are involved in activities such as burning fuels, cutting of trees, and other activities that release greenhouse gases. However, not all these activities can significantly cause global warming. The main cause of global warming is burning of fossil fuels. By burning fossil fuels, we mean things like natural gas, oil, and coal. When these fossil fuels are burnt the provide energy and carbon dioxide. But how does the increased amount of carbon dioxide cause global warming? Usually, the light energy from the sun is emitted in 4,000 nanometer wavelength. On the other hand, the earth releases the same 4,000 nanometers wavelength heat (Archer, 2012, p. 40). When human beings through their daily activities release carbon dioxide, this CO2 only absorbs the energy from the earth but doesn't absorb the energy from the sun. The heat energy that is absorbed by these molecules of carbon dioxide can be said to be in an excited unstable state. This is because this energy can still become stable again and release the energy absorbed. When this happens, the energy goes back to the space and some into the earth causing increased temperatures. This is what is referred to as global warming. Let us look at some of the effects of global warming.
Effects of Global Warming
One of the effects of global warming is change in the water cycle. This change is due to the extreme climate change caused by global warming. Change in water cycle means that some places are likely to experience more rain that usual which even cause havocs. Due to increased temperatures, this has caused oceans, rivers, and lakes evaporate. This can be good in some areas but in others its considered as bad. For instance, in northern areas of the United States, an increase in the temperature and the amount of water from the rain is a good thing. This is because it extends the growing season of crops which in turn means more money for planters in the area. However, this could as well hurt some agriculturalists because too much rain can destroy their crops (Archer, 2012, p. 43). On the other hand, in some areas, the change in water cycle might mean less rain. In such cases, this leads to droughts and thus negatively affects the crops. Another good example is the Tundra biome. This biome has warmed considerably over the 20th Century predominantly the last few years. The Tundra climate simulations project continued warming to a 4-5oC mean-increase by 2100. The winters have warmed more than summers, melting of land and sea ice anticipated increasing stream discharge and contributes to the rising sea level the mean-annual Scotch mist anticipated increasing. Global warming has been accompanied by overall climate variability and an increase in dangerous weather events. The prompt warming in the Tundra biome is at present bringing about considerable socioeconomic and ecological impacts many of which result from the thawing permafrost, shoreline erosion, and flooding, resulting from loss of protective sea ice and storm surges (Archer, 2012, p. 50).
According to the recent studies by The Environmental Media Services Organization, if nothing is done to stop global warming, it will drive global temperatures up by 6 degrees by the year 2100. This would cause glaciers to melt at a high rate leading to increased ocean levels. Increased water level poses a danger to both the marine life and coastal islands and cities will be in danger of floods. In Australia, Queensland State was recently hit by a series of cyclones and floods and cyclones that left several cities flooded. It is assumed that close to 210,000 people were affected. In addition, an initial damage toll of 1.5 billion US dollars was estimated (Archer, 2012, p. 45). As for the marine life, a small increase in oceanic temperatures will be intolerant for sea creature such as Corals. Other water organisms that are sensitive to water temperatures are fishes, such as salmon. His is because they have both higher and lower metabolic rates. During the summer, salmon have a higher metabolic rate due to the warm waters. During the winter they have low metabolic rates which are considered good because there is less food available during this time. However, with the increased global warming causing glacier ice to melt, leading to increased water temperatures, this means that salmon fish would have a higher metabolic rate even during the winter seasons. Because there is less food during this time and the metabolic rate many salmon would die (Archer, 2012, p. 60).
The third leading impact of global warming is emerging diseases such as tropical diseases. The major carriers of this disease are the mosquitoes. They mainly carry malaria, dengue fever, and cholera. In the recent past, the prevalence of malaria especially in the African countries has increased drastically. For instance, Malaria outbreaks happen in areas where the minimum temperature reaches no lower than 18 degrees, but with the increased global warming scientists have reported outbreaks in other places. In the US, this includes places such as California, New York, Texas, and Florida. This is because malaria mosquitoes thrive in humid and hot weather caused by the increased rains and temperatures. According to studies, this is likely to increase from 40% of the globe to 55%. In addition to malaria, other diseases such as dengue fever and cholera that are also carried by mosquitoes and do well in hot and humid areas are likely to emerge (Archer, 2012, p. 63).
Helping Prevent Global Warming
Now that we have exclusively explored the causes and effects, let us look at some of the things that can be done to prevent or reduce global warming. It is clear that the earth is warming faster than at any time in the past 1 million years. The best good thing is that this has not been caused by something supernatural. If global warming is caused by human activities, then there must be something that can be done to reduce or prevent global warming (Archer, 2012, p. 70).
The first and the most basic, simple thing to do is start recycling. In addition, we need to reduce our rate of smoking and use a car fuel that are safe fuel and releases less carbon dioxide. Alternatively, we can use solar power or any renewable source instead of fuel. In the recent past, governments from different countries have started making renewable energy supplies in order to reduce greenhouse gases and consequently global warming. Some of the renewable energies that governments are coming up with are wind power in order to combat the increasing greenhouse gases. A typical wind turbine in its operational life can produce 90 times the energy that is used in operating, building, and dismantling it. The good thing is that the public opinion in many countries has broadly been in favor of wind power (Archer, 2012, p. 74).
Additionally, people should play their part by reducing waste and choose products that are reusable products rather than those that are disposables. If we buy products with minimal packaging, this will help to reduce waste. And whenever one can recycle things such as plastic papers, newspapers, aluminum cans, and glass it will be very good. We should also consider starting a recycling program at institutions such as workplaces, hospitals, schools, and even in our communities. If people could at least recycle half of their household waste, we can save 3,500 pounds of carbon dioxide every year (Archer, 2012, p. 74).
Thirdly, global warming can be reduced by using less heat and air conditioning. This means that we should add insulation in the attic and walls as well as installing weather caulking or stripping around the windows and doors. This will not only significantly lower the heating costs but also reduce the amount of energy released. People can as well turn down the heat while asleep or when away from the house. Something basic like setting thermostat 3 degrees higher during summer and lower during winter can save up to 3,000 pounds of carbon dioxide annually.
Fourthly, we should encourage people to drive smart by driving less. By driving less, we will release fewer emissions. People can also use other forms of travelling that do not emit carbon dioxide. This will not only save fuel but also some travelling means such as walking or biking could be great forms of exercise. People can therefore explore their community mass transit system, and see if there are any options for carpooling to their schools or work. Additionally, when we drive less, we make ensure that the cars run efficiently. For instance, less driving keeps our car tires properly inflated and thus impinge our gas mileage by more than 5 percent. Usually, for every gallon of gas one saves not only helps his/her budget, it also keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere (Archer, 2012, p. 81).
Planting trees is the best and the cheapest way of reducing carbon dioxide. This is because during photosynthesis, trees absorb carbon dioxide a use it for the production of their food and in turn give off oxygen that also reacts with the atmospheric CO2 and therefore reducing global warming. Trees can be considered as a vital part of the natural atmospheric exchange cycle on earth. However, the idea of planting trees has not been embraced by many people and there are too few of them to fully counter the increased amounts of carbon dioxide caused by human activities. What people need to know is that a single tree can absorb about one ton of carbon dioxide during its lifetime. This can go a long way in reducing or preventing global warming (Archer, 2012, p. 86).
What is being done to prevent global warming?
We have discussed the causes, effects, and the things that can be done to prevent global warming. However, since 1998 when global warming was announced as a serious epidemic, some of these things have not been done. So what has been done so far or what is being done to prevent global warming? In order to contribute in the fight against global warming, we first need to know that global warming affects us all; in fact it impacts every living thing. In the recent past, understanding the risks and the things that can be done to stem this issue is being addressed at all levels. This includes at the individual, community, government, and international level. We have looked at the things that can be done at the individual level, so let us now explore what government is doing (Archer, 2012, p. 90).
In the USA, for instance, the federal agencies and the Environmental Protection Agency have been engaged on a win-win philosophy that is not only aimed at addressing the challenge of global warming while, but also at the same time, strengths the economy. In addition, at the national level, U.S. Global Change Research Program also coordinates the world's all-encompassing research effort on climate change. On the other hand, at the international level, many countries around the world have been expressing their commitment to strengthen international retorts to the risks of global warming. The U.S. has been working towards strengthening international action as well as broadening involvement under the support of the United Nations Framework Convention on global warming.
We also have the Kyoto Protocol. This is a legally binding international agreement whose aim is reducing greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. The protocol entered was brought into force on 16 February 2005 and it has been stipulating policies that ensures all countries in the world play a role in the fight against global warming (Archer, 2012, p. 123).
The bottom line it is coming and we all need to team up as one and figure out what can be done. Ocean waters are raising posing disasters, food security is already being affected and we also need to plan for catastrophes such as tsunami and Katrina. This is because all these will hit everyone, not just the poor or the people living around the endangered places. We need to understand that we're all in a heap of trouble and the sooner we accept this this fact the better. Therefore, we need to put serious effort to overcome the global warming problem. To achieve this, we should try our level best to solve the global warming issue and strive as much as possible to restore the planet earth for the sake of future generations. This paper has extensively explored the causes, effects, and the things that can be done to prevent global warming. The paper has also looked at the things that the international world is doing to fight global warming.
Global warming is real, let us fight it.
Archer, D., 2012, Global warming: understanding the forecast (2nd Ed.). Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons.