The rise in the atmospheric greenhouse gases
Most scientists believe that increased use of fossil fuels(coal, oil and so on) is leading to increases in global warming that will have adverse effects such as raised sea levels and the inundation of low lying coastal areas. But some scientists deny this is true, and a very few argue that the good effects of global warming will outweigh the bad ones. Take side in this debate.
Global warming can be defined as elevation of earths global temperature due to the rise in the atmospheric greenhouse gases (Maslin 9). These greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere as a result of human activities, which include industrialization and deforestation that causes an imbalance of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Significantly, human combusts fossils fuels such as gasoline and coal that releases heavy amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. When this happens, a phenomenon called the greenhouse effect arises. This leads to a blanketing effect that causes the earths average temperature to rise.
In my opinion, global warming causes adverse effects that outweighs the positives and therefore, efforts should be invested to manage it through mitigation in order to lessen greenhouse gases emissions, adapting to its effects and through geo-engineering to eliminate the greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. Such international efforts to achieve this are outlined by the Kyoto and Montreal Protocols.
Some scientist opposes to the occurrence of global warming claiming that indeed, the planet is cooling. Besides, they maintain that its occurrence is still unclear and maintains that global warming is a hoax and even if it was there, it could not necessarily imply a global disaster and if anything, man would adapt to its effects.
However, in my opinion, this argument is incorrect since its effects are apparent. This is marked by retreating of glacier that causes rise in sea level and even inundation of coastal lowlands. Massive ices sheets have melted in the polar and mountain icecaps (Braasch & Bill 27).
Hence Northern latitudes experiences widespread impacts of global warming since the arctic and Antarctic poles retreat to expose tundra while oceans absorb the heat, which should have been reflected back into the atmosphere. This causes a rise in sea levels that could dislocate residents of coastal regions while rising sea levels would cause more evaporation of vapor resulting to more clouds hence rise in precipitation levels probably in regions that its unwanted causing flashfloods and monsoons (Maslin 37).
The planet heats up through trapping of high frequency solar radiations such as ultraviolet, which transverses the ozone layer. The the energy and transmits it as low frequency (long wave band) thermal radiation called infrared.
These are absorbed by the atmospheric greenhouse gases and get scattered to emit heat energy that warms the earth surface. This process is regulated by the concentration of greenhouse gases, which have continued to rise since the industrial revolution. The earth has become warmer and climate change and its effects are now more real than ever (Oxlade 8).
The greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons, nitrous oxides, water vapor as well as ozone (Oxlade 8). The main source of the major greenhouse gas which is carbon dioxide is combustion of fossil fuels that are used to drive daily human activities. These include transport, generation of electricity, space heating and cooking. Besides, human continue to encroach the natural vegetation through clearing of forests for urbanization and agricultural activities. Additionally, population growth has also contributed to global warming since they continue to clear forests and more so, they use more fossil fuels that produce carbon dioxide (Casper 49).
Hence, there results an imbalance of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Greenhouse effect leads to the trapping of heat energy in the surface of the earth and average temperatures elevate. The rise in global temperatures continues to cause modifications in precipitation patterns. This could cause extension of subtropical deserts. Severe weather conditions such as heat waves and frequent draughts will result. All these changes might cause species extinction since some will fail to adapt to the changing climatic changes (Casper 131).
In the recent decades, global warming is apparent and the rate in which the planet is experiencing this is unprecedented. This is reflected by computer climate models that estimate the rates at which the planets average temperature is rising. Global warming and its effects has raised controversial debates since mainstream scientists approve that the issue is a serious one that gradually becomes worse. However, some disagrees with this view that is rejected by some who insists that it is not an issue to raise eyebrows.
However this standpoint seems illogic since the mainstream scientists asserts that however slight these changes are, they are accompanied by great climatic changes, which are characterized by adverse effects. The rising temperatures results to frequent droughts, flash floods and hurricanes which are remarkably detrimental to residents of precarious regions or those who rely on agriculture. Food security is threatened due to massive crop failure (Houghton 164).
Water supplies will be affected leading to less agriculture while sanitation and economic growth will be impeded, not to mention the destruction of ecosystems. Global warming would cause increase in vectors that would continue to cause diseases such as malaria even in regions that were considered free since there is a warm weather and floods for them to breed.
The geologic time has depicted a rise the earths average temperature that has varied by five degrees Celsius over millions of years. Today, scientists assert that earths temperature that has increased by 0.6 oC from eighteen hundreds is expected to increase by 1.4 to 5.8 oC in the twenty-first century alone (IPCC 5).
This is an unusual change, which has definite effects on the planet whose life depends on i.e. ocean, hydrological and nutrient cycles. This would cause a disruption of the ecosystems that supports life by provision of clean water, food and other nutrients.
Besides, it would enhance an apparent environmental stress that includes deserts, droughts, depletion of stratospheric ozone, deforestation as well as pollution. From research, it is clear that climatic changes have to impact biodiversity, which could be lost as species get extinct. Coral populations for instance have declined due to ocean acidification and warmer conditions. This causes bleaching of these species among others that inhabits the ocean ecosystem (IPCC 5).
Our civilization lies at the mercy of the global climate change. Nations have based their economy such as ports and cities along the coastal areas with the hope that water levels would be constant. But what are they getting in return? Unpredictable extreme storms like hurricanes, cyclones and tornadoes that wipe away their years of extensive labor, invested to build the economies.
Global warming will cause environmental and socio-economic effects that could be very enormous. These effects are long-term and real since they can be quantified by scientists. Even if declining the emission of greenhouse gases is the top agenda, the world must be ready to respond to these changes. The public need to become aware of the climatic changes that are to be expected and how to respond to them.
These are some of the uncertainties that should be expected to be frequent as human feeds more and more carbon dioxide to the already nauseated atmosphere. To mitigate this, it is the role of all nations to draft policies that are aimed at reducing emission of these gases. Besides, the world should stop being over-reliant on fossil fuels and look for alternative renewable sources of energy. Besides, every individual has to adjust their lifestyle while planting more trees instead of cutting them down.
Current debates regarding global warming and climate change are geared at reducing emission of greenhouse gases, which is a sensible move. This is because failure to do so will cause further elevation of atmospheric greenhouse gases, which would amplify the effects.
However, this does not necessarily require man to wait and see but has to make preparations to adapt to these changes. Adaptation together with mitigation should be complementary through proper planning that would reduce future costs (IPCC 21). Adaptive measures will be of importance since it would offer immediate help to the vulnerable groups and more benefits in future. These can be drafted to address issues such as biodiversity loss for a better and resilient future world.
All the same, a great challenge lies ahead since we are uncertain about climatic changes and how man should adapt towards them. This is because there are several variables, which include rise in population, economic, technological and environmental issues that keeps on changing. This calls for an integrated approach. Therefore, lets safeguard the natural environment today for the sake of the future of this planet we call home.