Global Warming Cause And Effect
Global warming is the upsurge of the earth’s terrestrial temperature. The process is gradual and has taken decades for the temperatures to move an inch centigrade. It is a subset of the global climate change. The global warming debate has been a subject of the global geopolitical discussions. The discourse has been exploring the best ways of dealing with the menace to mitigate its effect on humanity and earth in general. There have been varied interests around this topic, and, consequently, it has shaped the antagonism in the discussions. The United Nation has been the convener of the global warming discussions. Through the United Nations Environment program (UNEP), the body has made many advances in securing nations and concerned bodies bipartisan support in the form of monetary and promotion of environment protection initiatives. The paper explores the causes and effects of global warming to the planet earth and humanity.
The source of warm on the earth is the solar radiation. The rays of the sun pass through the clouds to the earth surface and are reflected the atmosphere. Some of the energy in the form of heat are absorbed by the earth surface. Some form the engine for the food synthesis function of green plants. So virtually, not all radiations contributing to the earth temperatures are attributed to solar radiation, some secondarily come from terrestrial radiation. The radiations are from the earth surface, from the sea, clouds, among other features. According to the NASA, the earth’s radioactive processes within its core also emit some energy in the form of heat and radiation to the earth surface (1). The clouds tend to block the radiation hence they concentrate of the earth surface. They form a blanket cover over the earth surface, enveloping it into assort of the green house. The temperature then rises. The range of temperature rise is normal.
Scientific research has attributed the global temperature upsurge to anthropogenic causes. The human beings’ activities are expanding the greenhouse effects on the earth. The majority of the activities are in the domain of the increasing greenhouse gas emissions. The greenhouse gases include nitrous oxide, water vapors, carbon dioxide, and methane; others include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Therefore, any activity that increases these emissions contributes to the greenhouse effect, which is global warming. Some of the anthropogenic activities include fossil fuel combustion. “The burning of the fossil fuel like coal, natural gas and oil has increased the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2)” (NASA 1) since this process releases colossal amounts of carbon. For example, a single gallon of gasoline produces 19 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when burned. Further, the agriculture is also a big time contributor to global warming. Rice plantations emit methane gas into the atmosphere. Rice being a staple food in most countries globally explains the fact that there are colossal plantations of rice worldwide. Methanogenesis occurring in the rice paddy fields boosts methane concentration in the atmosphere hence greenhouse gas intensity. Other agricultural activities such as fertilizer use that leads to higher nitrous oxide levels, livestock digestion, manure use, pipeline losses and vented subsurface landfill emissions all result to the high atmospheric concentration of methane. Livestock farming contributes to 18% of greenhouse gas emissions. It majorly results from the natural methane gas emission from livestock, overgrazing and deforestation to create grazing land for cattle. Land use change is a socio-demographic factor contributing to the production of greenhouse gases. Vegetation normally acts as carbon sinks as they help absorb carbon dioxide from the environment for their use. When humans clear land for various purposes such as settlement, agriculture, and development, they reduce the rate of carbon sink leading to an increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, clearing of vegetation also negatively affects rain patterns (NASA 1). When rain is reduced, less vegetation grow, reducing the carbon sink levels which is a greenhouse gas hence enhancing global warming.
The industrial practices contribute majorly to greenhouse gas emission. A case study is the cement manufacture industry that is estimated to contribute 5% to the man-made emission of C02. When calcium carbonate that is a pre-requisite element in making cement is heated, it produces lime and large amounts of carbon dioxide. The fossil fuels that provide the needed heat for this cement manufacture process also release a good amount of carbon dioxide. It is estimated that for every 1000kg of cement produced, 900 kg of carbon dioxide is in turned released to the atmosphere (Natural Resource Defense Council 1). Industrialization processes also require raw materials from the environment such as timber that further enhances desertification reducing the levels of carbon sink in the environment.
The use of aerosols by humans has also contributed to global warming. It is because aerosols directly scatter and absorb radiation. The scattering results into atmospheric cooling while the absorption enhances atmospheric warming. An example is the increased use of chlorofluorocarbons in refrigeration and fire suppression systems. The gases expand the gases in the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gas.
The use of charcoal in many developing countries has also contributed to high levels of carbon diode in the atmosphere. It happens during the process of production involving the burning of timber, and also, when it is used for cooking releasing this gas. Charcoal production has become an economic activity in these countries leading to high desertification rates, this, in turn, reduces the carbon sink levels.
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On the other hand, the factors explained above have had profound effects on the environment and social structure. One of the most evident effects has been climatic changes. The weather has gravely been affected. The intensity, amount, type and frequency aspects of precipitation have been affected. Dry regions are becoming drier with wet regions becoming wetter, besides rainfall, temperature levels have also immensely increased (Mann and Kump 16). The global weather outlook presents that temperatures have increased in almost all the world continents as a result of global warming. There is even a projection that increased global warming can cause greater increases in temperature.
Global warming has also caused increased environmental disease outbreaks. Warm temperature catalyzes disease vector breeding. An example is Malaria. The female anopheles mosquito breeds well and reproduces faster under warm temperature conditions. Climatic change has also had an adverse effect on human health as people have been directly exposed to changing weather patterns such as changes in precipitation, temperature, sea levels and extreme weather conditions. Indirect effects such as changes in water composition, food and air quality, agriculture, as well as changes in the ecosystem have also increased illness frequencies among people. A research conducted by the World Health Organization revealed that climatic change has resulted in rising in diseases such as diarrhea, dengue fever and malaria deaths worldwide in 2004. The increase was by 3%, 3.8% and 3% respectively. It contributes to 0.2% of global mortality rates with children constituting 85% of these climate change deaths (Union of Concerned Scientists 1).
There has been an observed reduction of glaciers with an increase in global warming. The Arctic Sea ice presently has no snows during summer which is contrary to how it used to be in the past. A reduction of ice in the cryosphere has had negative social impacts such as seasonal reductions in water availability since it is estimated that more than a sixth of the world’s population depends on snowpack and glaciers for water supply. This melting of ice results to rice in sea level that leads to temperature stratification.
Oceans are the major carbon sinkers as they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Therefore, increased level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere lead to ocean acidification as it absorbs a lot of the carbon gas from the atmosphere forming carbonic acid as the carbon dioxide dissolves in the water. When the oceanic waters become more acidic and very hot, it reduces the oceanic life because of resulting low oxygen levels such as fish which forms the basis of the large economic activities in most countries. Besides this when ocean temperatures increase as a result of global warming, they absorb less carbon dioxide from the atmosphere leading to a further concentration of this gas in the atmosphere hence furthering global warming.
Global warming has resulted in reduction of food supply. Most weed, pest and pathogens breed more in warmer temperatures negatively affecting crop production with farmers consequently experiencing very lower yields. Moreover, drought occurrences have increased as a result of global warming. Desertification levels and temperature increase has resulted in crop failure. Droughts have also reduced the chances of livestock survival that has resulted in little livestock product levels. Grazing lands have sequentially reduced. With increasing levels of global warming, food insecurity is also expected to increase; evidence suggests that drought occurrences are an anticipated increase. Further, water resources crises have been attributable to global warming. The phenomenon is brought about by altered patterns and cycle of precipitation, surface and underground water, and cryosphere. Due to the immense human interference alluded, water resource feature such as river courses has been interfered with (Natural Resources Defense Council 1). The scarcity of fresh water, which is needed for fundamental human consumption, has led to spontaneous conflicts among communities. It has been frequently observed among pastoral communities needing water and pasture for their livestock. For the ground water, global warming portends significant threat to shrinking area of the fresh underground aquifer. As a result of the increase in sea levels, the sea waters will tend to encroach on areas of underground fresh water, leading to salinization of the waters and estuaries. Another effect is human- wildlife conflict. The scarcity precipitated by this phenomenon has staged serious conflict pitting people and the wildlife. Poaching cases has increased, and the UN has called for severe measures by member states to mitigate it.
The human-wildlife conflict is also increased because of the land use and land use change. For example, spaces that had earlier been used by animals like elephants as their path areas have been turned into settlement or farm areas. Finally, there is the decline in the planet carbon budget. The decreased carbon sequestration due to land clearing and land burning practices has affected the carbon store (Mann and Kump 39).
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The effects are severe for both humans and animals inhabiting the earth surface. The upsurge of the temperatures has affected every facet of life and biological systems. It is imperative that people understand this concept in order to move forward; interventions can be molded to that effect. The earth is staring at the threat of extinction. Climate variability, which is the mother concept, has also had a multifaceted mutation, affecting life in varied ways. Scientists postulate that persistent and sharp variability will lead to permanent climate change (Mann and Kump 12). Inhabiting the earth will not be easy. Global warming is increasing, and there is a need for an urgent action.