Globalwarming has been one of the most controversial aspects of thecontemporary human society. This is particular considering theimmense disagreement regarding the causes and, consequently, thesolutions for the phenomenon. Global warming underlines a gradualincrease or rise in the overall temperatures pertaining to theearth’s atmosphere. This has, generally, been attributed orcredited to the effect of greenhouse gases emanating from theincreased levels of pollutants such as chlorifluorocarbons and carbondioxide among others. Greenhouse gases underline the gaseousconstituents of the anthropogenic and natural atmosphere that bothabsorbs and emits radiation in particular wavelengths in the spectrumof the thermal infrared radiation that is emitted from the surface ofthe earth, the clouds and the atmosphere. While there has beenwidespread agreement regarding the effects that these gases have onthe temperatures of the earth, there has been considerabledisagreement regarding the sources of these gases. Of particular noteis the contention regarding the role of human beings in this regard,with activists, scientists and other scholars underlining the factthat human beings have been the primary cause of the global warming.While there may be varying opinions, it is evident that human beingsare responsible for the gradual rise in temperatures in theatmosphere of the earth.
Differentgroups have come out and spoken against the varied human activitiesthat result in an increase in global warming, one of which Union ofConcerned Scientists. This group has been at the forefront inadvocating for clean energy and clean vehicles, as well as speakingagainst deforestation in the contemporary human society. Inparticular, the group has sought to underline the connection betweenhuman activities and the increasing global temperatures.
Howdo Greenhouse Gases Cause Global Warming?
Inexamining global warming, it is worth noting that it did not occurall at once rather it took place gradually over the years. Thetemperatures of the earth are maintained by the ozone layer, whichabsorbs the heat that is radiated from the earth upon being heated bythe sun. Over the years, however, there has been an increase in theproduction of greenhouse gases, which, unfortunately, create a layerbeneath the ozone layer thereby preventing the heat radiated from thesurface of the earth from escaping beyond the atmosphere. This meansthat the heat is trapped between the earth and the ozone layer,thereby causing an increase in the levels of temperature over theyears.
HowDo Human Activities Fit into the Global Warming Debate?
Alarge proportion of the global warming has been credited to humanactivities. This may particularly be seen in the fact that thephenomena started around the late 18thand 19thcentury, a period that is seen as the beginning of the industrialrevolution. Around this time, there was an increase in the usage offossil fuels and coal, which were used in enhancing the usage ofmachines that had become common, and which were replacing thehand-tools of the past.
First,scholars have noted that the extraction and burning of fossil fuelssuch as petroleum and coal results in the release or production ofcarbon dioxide (CO2) among other greenhouse gases that trap heat intothe atmosphere. As much as the amounts of natural carbon dioxide inthe atmosphere have been varying from 180 parts per million (PPM) to300 parts per million, the current levels of carbon dioxide are morethan 450 parts per million, which is over 50 percent more than thehighest levels of natural carbon dioxide in the last 800,000 years(Haldar56). Of course, it may be argued that natural phenomena such asvolcanoes and solar variation had a minute warming effect and mayhave produced some of the carbon. However, the carbon dioxideproduced by the use of coal and other fossil fuels in vehicles andindustries has been quite substantial since the advent of theindustrial revolution. Scholars note that carbon dioxide produced insuch a way incorporates some distinctive fingerprint (Haldar56).
Inaddition, global warming has been immensely attributed to the effectsof the substantial deforestation that has been prevalent in thecontemporary human society. Indeed, scholars have acknowledged thatdeforestation of tropical rainforests may be adding higher amounts ofcarbon dioxide to the atmosphere than the entire population ofvehicles on the roads. It is noteworthy that trucks and cars accountfor approximately 14 percent of the global carbon emissions, while alarge number of analysts credit deforestation with more than 15percent of the carbon emissions (Haldar57). There are varied ways in which deforestation causes globalwarming. First, once trees are brought down, they release or producethe carbon that they have been storing into the atmosphere.Researchers have noted that over 32 million acres of tropicalrainforests were mowed down every year from 2000 to 2009, with therate of deforestation increasing by the day. Underlining the immenserole that deforestation plays in increasing the amounts of carbondioxide in the atmosphere and the eventual global warming is the factthat it accounts for about 3 tons of carbon dioxide every year. Thisis compounded by the fact that a large proportion of these trees areburnt for charcoal, which results in further production of carbondioxide. On the same note, trees have been acknowledged to play arole in clearing the atmosphere of carbon dioxide. Indeed, trees usecarbon dioxide during the day and release oxygen, which results in aproper balance of gases in the atmosphere (Goldstein 56). In essence,deforestation would eventually mean that there is a reduction in theforests’ capacity to absorb carbon dioxide, thereby resulting inits increase in the atmosphere. Unfortunately, it is a bit difficultto convince a large number of people to abandon their deforestationpractices as trees are more valuable to them dead than alive, atleast as far as short-term economics is concerned.
WhyHuman Beings Should be Concerned about Global Warming
Itis evident that global warming has devastating effects on the worldat large and the lives of human beings and other animals and plantsin particular. One of the most obvious and immediate impacts ofglobal warming is the rise in temperatures across the globe, wherethe average temperatures of the globe have risen by approximately 1.4degrees Fahrenheit in the past century. The hottest year since 1895was 2012, while nine of the hottest years have occurred in the 21stcentury (Casper77).
Onthe same note, there has been an increase in the prevalence ofdevastating natural events such as hurricanes. Scientists haveacknowledged that there is bound to be an increase in the intensityof hurricanes as a result of global warming and climate change, sincesuch calamities derive their energy from the difference intemperatures between the cold upper atmosphere and warm TropicalOcean (Goldstein 63). This difference becomes even more pronounced bythe global warming.
Onthe same note, the global warming is bound to cause an increase inthe frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such asrainstorms, blizzards, heat waves and droughts. Climate models haveforecasted that global warming would result in a significantmodification of climate patterns including shifts in the seasonaltemperature variations, wind patterns and annual precipitation(Casper86).
Further,global warming has resulted in an increase in the rates at whichglaciers and ice caps are melting. It has been well acknowledged thatthe area that is under snow cover in the U.S has experienced a steadydecrease since 1970, while permafrost’s average temperatures havebecome warmer. Permafrost underlines the soil that is below or atfreezing temperature. Testament to the decrease in the area under iceis the Arctic ice cap in 2012, which scientists saw as the smallestamount that has ever been recorded (Goldstein 65). On the same note,there has been a tremendous retreat of glaciers with research showingthat there are only 25 glaciers larger than 25 acres in Montana’sGlacier National Park, a reduction from the 150 glaciers that onceexisted in the area (Casper94).
Asa consequence of the melting of ice, there has been a rise in theglobal sea levels by about 8 inches since 1870. This is because themelted ice would eventually find its way into rivers and eventuallythe seas and oceans (Goldstein 67). More often than not, the ice hasbeen causing ranging floods as it makes its way into the oceans.Scientists project that the persistence of the current trends wouldresult in the inundation of a large number of coastal areas whereabout 50 percent of the human population on earth lives.
Advocacyand Global Warming
Needlessto say, it is imperative that the human population undertakesfundamental steps to eliminate the progression of global warming(Casper94). It goes without saying that such efforts would have to enlistthe efforts of each country and government, as well as individualssince all are guilty and have played a part, however minute, inescalating the increase in global temperatures. This advocacy wouldhave to target human activities that cause an increase in the levelsof carbon dioxide including the use of fossil fuels anddeforestation.
Evidently,the use of fossil fuels may be difficult to eliminate consideringthat a large proportion of machines in the world today are dependenton them. In essence, the target must be to reduce the dependency onthese fuels through substituting them with cleaner sources of energyincluding wind power and solar energy (Goldstein 79). It has,however, been acknowledged that solar and wind energy may notsufficiently eliminate dependence on the fossil fuels. However, theymay be combined with geothermal energy, which is not only clean andsustainable, but also has the capacity to replace fossil fuels as awhole.
Inaddition, it is imperative that there is an increase in vigilanceagainst deforestation, where policies have to be put in placeoutlining stiff requirements for any individual who wishes to cuttrees particularly in large amounts. Such policies would outline thepenalties for cutting overly young trees and make it mandatory thatindividuals plant twice the number of trees that they have cut so asto maintain and increase the forest cover in the globe.
Casper,Julie K. ChangingEcosystems: Effects of Global Warming.New York: Facts on File, 2012.Print
Goldstein,Natalie. GlobalWarming.New York: Facts On File, 2009. Print.
Haldar,Ishita. GlobalWarming: The Causes and Consequences.New Delhi: Mind Melodies, 2012.Print.