Global Warming : The Reality
Global Warming – A Reality
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Global Warming is a reality that is faced by everyone living on the face of the Earth. The development of different changes that includes the enhancement of temperatures, the rise of sea levels, melting ice-caps and glaciers, changes in the ecological diversity of plants and animals presents a serious threat of living for everyone regardless of borders or species. These conditions can be tackled with scientific and managerial outlooks. On scientific grounds, it is quite important to develop energy efficient machines that rely on green and renewable energy resources. Besides that, fossil fuels usage should have to be minimized while increasing forestation to cope up with carbon dioxide emissions from different sources. For solving the issues, the governments and international environmental protection bodies should have to prop up their efforts for saving the environment. Development of better and strict legislatures for assessing carbon emission and carbon footprint should have to be implemented for better and secured future.
Global Warming – A Reality
Scientific innovations and industrialization have brought significant changes in human life. On one side, innovations have brought about better life-style for human beings; however, it has also brought about some damaging aspects for the environment. Global warming is one of those severe issues that are quite commonly discussed on different scientific forums. Global warming is not a prediction any longer; rather, it is becoming a global reality with the passage of time. The increase in temperature, changes in local habitat of different species along with deteriorating effects of global warming can be witnessed in almost every part of the globe. Different problems arising from global warming have consequences that include the occurrence of extreme events, the rise in sea level and alteration of ecological diversity. For tackling these issues, different steps are proposed from scientists and environment protection organizations. However, these changes are imminent, and steps should have to be taken on priority basis.
Section I: Problems Associated with Global Warming
Following are some of the problems faced by the Earth as part of increasing core temperature. The severity and consequences of these problems will be discussed in next section.
Occurrence of Extreme Weather
Weather fluctuation is a natural process. However, changes in the weather pattern are an alarming aspect of global warming. Weather events; like, heat-waves, droughts, flooding and torrential rains, and forest fires were also present before these global warming has become a reality. However, the frequency and intensity of these events have enhanced with the passage of time (Allen and Lord, 2004).
The primary effect of global warming is enhanced temperature of Earth’s core and environment. Heat waves are one of most common events that occur all around the world. In 2003, heat waves scorched complete Europe, and the summer has been recorded as the hottest in the Europe for last 500 years (Luterbacher et al., 2004). Similarly, these records were broken in different parts of the world as well. The impacts of heat waves include casualties and severe damage to the global economy.
Torrential rains have also been increased significantly since the mid of 20th century. This increase in rains is highly correlated with increasing environment temperature. Higher temperatures lead to enhanced evaporation of water thereby increasing the amount of water in the air that leads to heavy downpours. In extreme cases, these heavy rainfalls also increase the chances of flooding. Another contributing aspect in this regard is intense precipitation with increased intensity and frequency of El Niño events. An El Niño is a phase that occurs after every 2-7 years, and it lasts for a year. El Niño is responsible for bringing heavy rain falls in Southern America and Peru.
Flooding events are quite likely to enhance with the increase in global warming; however, droughts are also expected to increase in frequency and severity. The Higher temperature of environment tends to increase the evaporation rates. Considering the situation with a lack of precipitation, it can result in loss of moisture from soil thereby making it grow drier. In arid environments, less amount of solar energy is used up for evaporating water, and a significant amount of energy is used for increasing soil and overlying air temperatures. This cycle can become intensified with the lack of precipitation (Schär et al., 2004). The drought that has been intensified with heat waves of Europe in 2003 is an example of compounded effects.
As part of recent discoveries, Westerling et al. (2006) have showed that the global warming is causing wildfires in Western US forests. It can become severe and intense in several ways. The effect of droughts would bring about perfect environment for forest wildfires. As the droughts become quite common, they would create an environment with deprived precipitation thereby creating an ideal environment for wildfires. Also, longer warm seasons translate into the season with a high probability of fire. Warmer temperatures also result in different insects’ outbreak that feed on different trees resulting in the high amount of dry fuels that can ignite the fire.
Coastal Flooding and Rise in Sea-level
Rising sea levels are one of the most common impacts of global warming. Sea levels have enhanced from 10 to 20 centimeters during the 20th century that is ten times the value obtained during the last three thousand years. The rise in sea level is because of the expansion of oceans along with melting of polar ice caps and glaciers. It could result in severe coastal floods with high frequency and intensity. Glacier is slow moving stream of ice formed on sloping land. In most of the mountainous regions all around the globe, monitoring on long-term has discovered that a vast majority of glaciers are moving up slopes because of global warming (Nicholls et al., 1996). The lower end of these glaciers is melting at much faster pace as compared to replenishment of ice on the top. Glaciers store water quite similarly like snowpack, and it provides a steady release of water. However, with the continued disappearance, it would be going to have a severe impact on water supplies in some regions of the world.
Section II: Severity of Global Warming
Global warming has brought about tremendous changes on the face of the Earth. More specifically, it has caused alteration of weather patterns together with different ecological aspects. Under the previous section of problems caused by global warming, the severity of those problems would be discussed in this section.
Severe Weather Conditions
Among the extreme weather conditions is the heat wave. Within the North American regions, different states in the US have been facing severe and recurring cycles of heat waves. Around 37 states have faced the highest summer temperatures in 2010. In some of the regions, it did not cool off at night as well. All around the nation, more than 28 million people have faced this deadly heat wave, and 36 million people have faced hottest summer nights. These extreme weathers have caused severe harm to a young and elderly group of people. Besides that, the people living in urban areas faced the urban heat island effect because of lack of tree covers and more importantly, effects of paved surfaces. The United States faces an average of around 400 deaths every year along with 1800 death each year for illnesses arising from severe heat effects. In 2006, a deadly heat wave had stricken the nation and more specifically, California with the deadliest blow. Also, studies have predicted that the heat waves would become common by 2100 with a rise of 5-9oF in the United States (Knowlton et al., 2008).
Another detrimental aspect of it includes torrential rains and flooding. Among the most severe flooding events has occurred in December 1999 in Venezuela. During the month, the country has faced the record highest rainfalls during the last 100 years; the outcome of rainfall was massive flooding and landslides. The unfortunate event has claimed lives of 30,000 people (Wieczorek et al., 2001). The rainfall was quite unusual as it was quite intense and has taken place in the non-rainy season. Also, it was quite odd that the rainfall was not a result of tropical cyclone or hurricane. The major reason for high death rate was because of building a home at steep slopes of grounds (Wang and Chameides, 2005). Other effects of these torrential raining are overflowing of lakes, rivers, and other water bodies. It enhances the chances of water-borne pathogens to become a part of drinking water systems. Downpours have a potential threat to national health, and it can overflow the sewerage systems enabling it to mix with clean water resources. Exposure to unclean water having pathogens would expose vulnerable people having illnesses of norovirus and giardiasis can cause abdominal pain, headache, diarrhea, fever and vomiting (NRDC, 2015).
Droughts were also become quite frequent and intense because of global warming. Warmer ocean temperature because of global warming results in highly severe droughts. The Western Pacific and the Indian Oceans have become exceptionally warm during 1998 and 2002. During this time span, high temperatures and below normal precipitation were observed within North American, European and southern and central Asian regions. More specifically, the western US has faced the most severe drought in the last 500 years (Webb, 2004).During this period, more than 50% of the United States has faced from moderate-to-severe drought conditions.
Because of the very same heat wave and drought, an additional factor of forest wildfires has developed. In south-central region of Alaska, the world largest outbreak of insects was witnessed in the 1990s. Spruce bark beetles have damaged more than 1.6 million hectares of forested lands that correspond to an area of New Jersey State. However, regions outside of Arctic have faced over 122,000 incidents of fire in 2000 within western United States. States of New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Nevada, Texas, Idaho and Colorado have faced their warmest temperature cycle during the very same period.
On the other side of the picture, the rise of sea levels by melting polar ice-caps and glaciers is another serious concern. The melting of the glacier is also depleting a naturally occurring resource of freshwater into seawater at a rapid rate. Rising sea levels have threatened to deluge low-lying islands and areas. Apart from that, the coastal population is at constant risk of floods, tsunamis and erosion of shorelines. It is also destroying the ecosystem that includes mangroves plantation and wetlands that protect the coasts against severe storms. A 3-feet enhancement in sea levels could easily flood every city within the United States’ East Coast. Around 100 million of the total world, population lives within the 36-inches of sea level that makes them vulnerable and highly susceptible to any natural calamity (Nature, 2015).
Among the ecological effects of global warming is damage to coral reefs. The large-scale bleaching events in the early 1970s have caused severe damage to sea and its ecological diversity.The natural color of corals is because of photosynthetic algae named Zooxanthellae, which lives within corals. Under highly stressful conditions having a temperature rise of 1oC as compared to average summer temperature, corals have to expel the Zooxanthellae thereby leading to the bleaching effect of coral reefs. Under the extreme circumstance, the prolonged bleaching can cause coral’s death. As part of current increasing temperature trend, average ocean surface temperature in almost every tropical region has increased by 1oC during the last century. During the mid of 1997-1998, the largest bleaching events of coral reefs was witnessed. It has damaged more than 15% of total coral reefs in this global warming event. Among those exist, corals that have existed for thousands of years. Also, in the Florida Keys, the bleaching event has been felt for the very first time, and it has caused damage to reefs. In 1996, Hawaii also faced a similar event. Continued warming as part of global warming can cause mass bleaching. Besides that, increase in carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere also poses an enhanced danger to corals. Whenever carbon dioxide is dissolved in seawater, it changes the water chemistry thereby making it quite difficult for corals to make calcium carbonate (Kleypas et al., 1999). Apart from that, other human-induced stresses that contribute to water pollution also creates the loss of coral ecosystem. The very same loss of ecosystem can result in severe economic and loss of tourism in the region.
Different species including that of plants and animals are shifting their yearly cycles because of global warming. More than 80% of the total species that ranges from trees to grasses and from mammals to fish are altering their directions. Around 36 different species of butterflies within a North American region, eight have moved towards North because of their low life expectancy at the southern end (Parmesan and Yohe, 2003).
Outbreaks of Vector-Borne Disease
Most of the infectious diseases that are spread by rodents and mosquitoes are known as vector-borne diseases. Global warming can increase in different ways. The increase in temperature is one of the key accelerators for a growth of the vector-borne disease. It causes maturation of specific disease-causing vectors and their agents. One of the examples is that of Dengue mosquito whose incubation period has decreased from 12 days (30oC) to 7 days (32 to 35oC). The rate of transmission of the disease has increased threefold as well (Patz et al., 1996). Apart from that, the higher average temperatures can also enhance the vector activity season. Also, increase in global temperature can result in heavy precipitation thereby leading to the superfluous growth of these disease vectors (Wang and Chameides, 2005).
Section III: Solutions of Global Warming
Global warming is an alarming and developing situation of a current world having the least concern of authorities and governments. However, there is no single solution for solving this crisis. The development of technological advancement to fight against gas emission and creating green energy can be considered a vital step towards betterment.
Among some of the common solutions, include boosting up of energy efficiency. Energy is the requirement of today’s modernized world. This very energy is used to power, cool and heat our homes, industries and businesses. Energy efficiency technologies can greatly help in reducing the use of energy for achieving similar or higher level of production, comfort or service. By making systems more energy efficient, it is possible to save the huge amount of money and energy. For that, zero energy houses and insulation homes for better efficiency of air conditioning and heating units is a vital step for achieving energy efficiency at homes.
Transportation is another major contributor for global warming. The emissions of carbon dioxide from automobiles have increased enormously as compared to fuel requirement in any other sector. For that, some solutions are available. Development of low-carbon emitting fuels and green fuels is one step. Ethanol-based fuels are quite common in developed countries; however, for better fuel economy, it is vital to have a more effective transportation systems as well.
Renewable energy resources are another good alternative for reducing carbon footprint and subsequently, effects of global warming on the environment. Different energy resources that include the wind, solar, geothermal and most importantly, bio-energy are the key for a greener and better future. Also, the renewable energy resources have the potential to surpass the demands of energy while reducing pollution.
While introducing renewable energy, fossil fuels should have to be ruled out with the passage of time. Decreasing the usage of fossil fuels and more specifically, carbon-rich coal is quite essential for tackling the sudden climate drift that the world is facing nowadays. There are different ways for phasing out fossil fuels. It includes the development of new legislatures and laws that can limit the carbon emission. Apart from that, the inspections of carbon producing plans should have to be conducted on a regular basis in every part of the world regardless of regional and political alliances. Development of carbon sequestration plants is one of the most vital innovations that can help reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Forestation and enhancing the environment for local forests to maintain their ecological diversity is another key step that the government should have to take in their fight against global warming. Global warming can be greatly reduced by planting forests as they have natural ability to capture carbon dioxide. Mangrove forestation can also help in reducing land erosion activities at coastal areas.
Sustainable development is another important element in creating a better environment. Providing financial assistance from different developed and leading countries would support under-developed or developing countries to combat global warming. Sustainable development could be in the form of providing better outlooks to farmers and small-to-medium enterprises (SME) to take environmental friendly measures (Climate Hot Map, 2015).
Armitage (2005) has pointed out the reluctance of politicians in considering the environmental crisis faced by the world irrespective of borders. Moreover, he has pointed out the doubt in politicians for taking steps because of political and economic interests. For that, accepting climatic changes and global warming is the first step to solving the problem. Developing an understanding of it would urge politicians to take fruitful steps to solve these severe and time-sensitive issues. Different platforms including the upcoming December’15 Global Warming summit could play an important role in understanding and mitigating the risk to the environment.
All in all, technological innovations have brought not only comfort in human’s lives; however, it has also created a menace of global warming. Nevertheless, industries play a vital role in driving economic wheel of a country. With these innovations and developments, it is vital to induce and nurture the idea of sustainability. Global warming is surely a reality and has impacted the world in the worst manner possible. Rising sea levels, glacier melting, and extreme weather conditions reflects that the world needs to have solutions to global warming issues. Time is of the essence, and further delay would result in further deterioration of the environment and its ecosystems.
Global warming is not a state’s or country issue; rather, it is a matter of international attention. Moreover, governments of different countries should have to become active to solve this problem and participate on different forums. Global warming would become more prominent with different natural calamities if sincere and timely steps are not taken at the earliest.
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