Global warming is a term that is commonly used to describe the gradual increase in the average temperature of the earth’s oceans and atmosphere that is believed to be making a permanent change to the earth’s climate. There is a debate worldwide on whether climate change is real or a hoax but climate scientists concur that the planet is warming up basing it on their facts and data. The majority of people believe that the effects of global warming are more substantial and seem to occur rapidly. There is a scientific consensus on climatic changes that are related to global warming where it has been held that average temperature of the earth has increased by approximately 0.8 °C over the past century (Riebeek 1). There are increased volumes of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are regularly released into the hemisphere by the combustion of fossil fuels, agricultural activities, land clearing, and other human activities. Scientists predict that if the state of environmental pollution is maintained, the global average temperatures could increase by 5.8 °C by 2100. Global warming is a menace to the society and threatens the survival of future generations as it has an adverse effect on their living conditions.
There are several factors that cause global warming as scientists have spent decades researching on the natural cycles and events known to influence climate. A United Nations group known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have continuously investigated the role of greenhouse gases in global warming. Most of the gases come from the combustion of fossil fuels like those from vehicles, factories, machines, and even those produced during the production of electricity. There are multiple sources of greenhouse gases that cannot be quantified but the gas that is mostly responsible for most warming is carbon dioxide. Other gases that lead to global warming include methane that is released from agricultural activities like the digestive tract of grazing animals, nitrous oxide from fertilizers, refrigeration gases, and industrial processes (Riebeek 2). It has been established that the loss of forests is also a factor that contributes towards global warming as forests store Carbon Dioxide thereby reducing the effect it has on global warming.
Different greenhouses have quite diverse heat-trapping abilities in that some of them can trap more heat as compared to the amount trapped by carbon dioxide. For instance, methane can produce more than twenty times of warming of a molecule as compared to what carbon dioxide produces. The nitrous oxide, on the other hand, is more potent than carbon dioxide as they tend to have a far much-advanced effect on global warming as compared to other greenhouse gases. There are gases that tend to have a much more severe effect on the ozone layer, for example, the chlorofluorocarbons that degrade the ozone layer and have been banned in many countries around the globe. These gases have heat-trapping potential that is thousands of times greater than that of carbon dioxide, but none of them adds as much warmth to the planet as carbon dioxide does since they have lower concentrations. It is with this in mind that scientists tend to talk about greenhouse gases in comparison with equivalents amounts of carbon dioxide. From the year 1990, research has consistently considered yearly emissions and the amounts go up each year by almost 6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents, a number that is alarming and threatening to future generations (Przyborskiv 1).
The impact of a rise in surface temperatures is significant, and it will have superfluous and far-reaching effects on the globe. Global warming modifies rainfall patterns lengthens the growing season is some regions, amplifies the coastal region, thaws ice caps and glaciers, and often alters the ranges of some of the infectious diseases. In most places, global warming leads to more recurrent hot days and less cool days with the most heat occurring on land (Cook 11). There are more intense heat waves and storms, floods, and droughts that are having an extreme precipitation pattern alteration and hurricanes are bound to upsurge in force due to warmer ocean surface heats. Emergent evidence proposes that global warming has an adverse effect on the meteorological conditions as heat waves, famines, and extreme rain events have led to an augmented frequency over the past 50 years, and global warming due to human activities has contributed to the trend.
Global warming has also led to rising sea levels that wear away coasts and cause more recurrent coastal flooding. It is speculated that some island nations will disappear, and the problem is thought to be serious because almost 10 percent of the population of the world live in vulnerable locations that are 30 feet above sea level. Between the years 1870 and 2000, the sea level had enlarged by 1.7 millimeters per year on average leading to a total sea level increase of 221 millimeters. The rate of sea level escalation is hastening since NASA satellites have shown that sea echelons are growing more rapidly that is 3 millimeters per year contributing to the sea level rise of 48 millimeters between the years 1993 to 2009 (Przyborski 1). The IPCC estimates that sea levels will rise by 0.18 to 0.59 meters by 2029 as warmed sea water enlarges and the mountain and polar glaciers liquefy. As the temperatures of the globe rise, so do the melting of ice sheets and the increase of sea water thus the rise in sea levels. Satellite measurements reveal that the West Antarctic ice sheets and the Greenland will shed about 125 billion tons of ice annually, and this is sufficient to raise sea levels by 0.01 inches annually (James Wang 17). If global warming is not mitigated, then the melting of such ice will accelerate, and the rise in sea level could be a lot higher and detrimental to individuals residing in the coastal areas.
Global warming has an impact on ecosystems as it is putting pressure on animals and plants that have always co-existed in particular climate zones. The warmer temperatures that are currently being experienced have altered the growing seasons of many regions of the globe, for instance, the growing seasons of Northern hemisphere are now two weeks longer, and the springs of both the north and south hemisphere seem to come early. The change has an adverse effect on the larger ecosystem since nomad animals have to start looking for food sources earlier and the lifecycles of pollinators to be out of synch with flowering trees and plants. The mismatch can limit the ability of plants to survive and reproduce and this would reduce the availability of food throughout the food chain. Warmer temperatures prolong growing seasons, and this essentially means that vegetation needs more water to keep developing during the season or end up drying out. There are many ecosystems where daily maximum temperatures might increase beyond the tolerance levels of indigenous animals or plants, and they might face extinction. The IPCC states that 20-30 percent of animal and plant species will be threatened by the risk of extermination if temperatures continue to rise more than 2.5 °C (Przyborski 1).
The changes orchestrated by global warming to weather and ecosystem have a far overwhelming effect on people and affects them negatively. Those who are hardest hit are those residing in low-lying coastal areas and those from poor states who lack the resources to fit into to the changes in temperatures. The tropical temperatures have increased, the reach of infectious diseases like malaria have changed and are becoming harder to treat can control. There are more hurricanes and intense rains that lead to more severe flooding and the loss of property and even life. There are hotter summers that often dry up forests and cause frequent fires that result in more cases of deaths and stroke. There are currently more intense famines that have led to an upsurge in malnutrition cases and fresh water over a period will be scarce as mountain glaciers disappear. Global warming sets back the lifestyles of people, and this can threaten its survival in the future (Riebeek 12).
There is a myriad of activities that people are engaging in as they strive to reduce on global warming. People are choosing to participate in green jobs and consume clean energy that has no effect on global warming. People are also driving smarter cars that do not produce greenhouse gases thereby conserving the environment. There is also an increase in green homes and buildings where people have weatherized their homes and buying energy efficient appliances that do not increase greenhouse emissions. It is imperative for everyone to engage in conserving the environment in a sustainable way for future generations and reduce in any activities that might be leading to the increase of greenhouse gases.
Cook, John. “The Scientific Guide of Global Skepticism.” 2010. Skepticalscience Website. Document. 16 March 2016.
James Wang, Bill Chameides. Global Warming’s Increasingly Visible Impacts. Policy Paper. New York: Environmental Defense, 2005. Print.
Przyborski, Paul. How Will Global Warming Change Earth? 2015. Web. 09 March 2016. <http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/GlobalWarming/page6.php>.
Riebeek, Holli. “Global Warming.” NASA Earth Observatory 11 May 2007: 1-15. Print.