Ecology Essay Help on Global Climate Change

Global Climate Change

Part I:  A Closer Look at the Evidence

            The graph indicates that the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide for the last 650,000 years has never exceeded 300 parts per million. However, between the year 1950 and 2014, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased from 300 to about 400 parts per million. This clearly indicates that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing at very high rates that have never been recorded in human history for only 64 years, which is far beyond the highest level attained in the past 650,000 years.

            The facts about climate change have been grouped into nine categories that have been labeled sea level rise, global temperature rise, warming oceans, shrinking ice sheets, declining Arctic sea ice, glacial retreat, extreme events, ocean acidification, and decreased snow cover. What is considered not in dispute is the fact that the climate warming trends over the past century are largely attributed to human activities. This fact is supported by 97 percent of the climate scientists, and most of the world’s leading scientific organizations.

The effects of global climate change are being observed on the environment. The increase in average global surface and near-surface temperature due to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration has resulted in the shrinking glaciers, early break up of ice on rivers lakes, shifting of plant and animal ranges, and even early flowering of trees. Moreover, the effects of global climate change that had been predicted by scientists in the past have started occurring. These effects include loss of ice, accelerated sea level rise, and prolonged heat waves that are more intense. The extent of climate change effects vary from one region to another. The impact of these effects is also determined by the ability of the various social and environmental systems to mitigate the effects or adapt well to the change. For example, while the increase in average surface and near-surface temperature has produced beneficial impacts in some regions, other regions have experienced adverse impacts. Some regions, such as the United States (U.S.) Southwest has experienced increased heat and drought events that have increased the frequency of wildfires. The Midwest region is experiencing extreme heat, heavy downpours, and flooding that can affect infrastructure, health, and the environment. Drought events are responsible for reduced stream flow and lake water levels, thereby threatening aquatic ecosystems and irrigation-dependent agriculture. Global climate change is also responsible for the increasing ocean temperatures and acidity, which are adversely affecting marine ecosystems and fisheries.          

Part II:  How Can Economic Growth Become Part of the Solution?

            Economic growth negatively impacts other species because it is often accompanied by higher consumption of resources and more pressure on habitat because of the need to expand economic activities. The demand for more raw materials, such as timber, for construction purposes would result in reduction of particular tree species and destruction of forests which are habitats of a wide range of species. However, habitat loss has emerged as the principal threat to biodiversity as the global economy and human population grows. The increasing demand for food will exert pressure to put more land under agricultural production. This would significantly result in habitat loss, considering that two-fifths of the world’s land is currently under agricultural use, as compared to three percent for urban areas. The habitat loss threat can be reduced through meeting the increasing food demand without actually putting new lands, which are habitats for other species, under agricultural use. This would be achieved through boosting output in high yielding countries or intensifying agricultural activities in low-yielding countries.     

            Economic growth is not necessarily bad for our planet. In fact, economic stagnation and poverty have been found to adversely affect the planet. This is because people would intensify consumption of resources in an effort to attain economic growth and eradicate poverty. The poor have often over-exploited natural resources, such as forests and fish, in an attempt to improve their economic statuses. Over the years, there is increasing evidence that economic growth can actually benefit biodiversity. For instance, as people grow richer, they tend to clean up the mess that they have made of their surroundings. With growing prosperity, humans have appeared to care more about matters that are beyond their own survival. These concerns are usually translated into laws, regulations, and programs that have transformed people’s attitudes and behaviors towards their environment. Furthermore, economic growth is normally accompanied with technological progress. The technological progress has not only made conservation more effective, but has also helped humans produce more of what they need or want from less resources, which considerably benefits other species. In conclusion, economic growth can be accompanied by technological progress that can help reduce the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide that is causing climate change. Furthermore, technological progress will enable humans produce more of their wants from very limited resources. This would prevent habitat loss, such as that resulting from the conversion of forests into agricultural land to meet increasing food demand, which would reduce the threats to biodiversity.