Global warming is everywhere around us. You cannot pass a day without hearing something about it. If some of you ar enot clear on what this is, global warming refers to the rise in earth's average surface temperature. It is the effect of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. When greenhouse gases such as water vapor, nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide and methane trap the sun rays (light and heat) in the earth’s atmosphere, the surface temperature rises and this is known as the greehouse effect. This is a natural process of nature to retain the warmth that has made it possible for survival on earth. So then what is all the commotion on global warming? Some of the scientists think that this is not a big deal as it could be a general climatic shift going on and nature can take care of itself without us interfering. We do not have enough historical data on the temperature rise and shifts from the past to look at the current data and panic. But many scientists differ in opinion on this. There seems to be an increase in the amount of greenhouses gases which has led to an increase in global warming. As to how this will play out is something we might not know in our lifetime but nevertheless if we think it is going to affect our future generations then we must take measures to stop so that ours and our fellow earthlings progeny carries on without getting extinct.
What causes Global Warming?
There are two main causes of global warming.
Natural causes: When the methane gas (type of greenhouse gas that traps heat) is released from the wetlands and the arctic tundra, it increases the atmospheric temperature of the Earth. Another natural cause of global warming is that the earth goes through a cycle of climate change that usually lasts about 40,000 years.
Man-made causes: One of the major man-made problems is air pollution. It is mostly caused due to combustion of fossil fuels. The fossil fuels are made of organic matter. When these fuels are burnt, they emit CO2 which is the most harmful greenhouse gas. Growing population is another man-made cause. More people leads to usage of more resources like food, transportation modes etc. Hence, more methane gas is released due to excessive cultivation and burning of fossil fuels. Increase in population makes the global warming problem worse because humans breathe out CO2. Deforestation has also contributed towards global warming. Forests are natural carbon sinks; they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during photosynthesis.
What are the effects of Global Warming?
Some of the drastic effects of global warming are listed below:
Melting glaciers: The oceans are fed water by the glaciers and ice caps that melt during hot summer. But with the increasing heat, the amount of glacier and ice cap formation has gone down considerably due to which the sea level is expected to elevate between seven and 23 inches by the end of this century. It is estimated that in the coming years rise in seal level could lead to countries like Netherlands, Bangladesh, Marshali Islands and Egypt loosing good chunk of land under water. Until now these glaciers and snow capped mountains have served as natural air conditioners but with the melting of the upper layer of ice sheets, the below dark asphalt land is getting exposed to sunlight that absorbs more heat making the climatic conditions warmer.
Agriculture: Global warming is expected to bring extreme diversifications in climatic conditions due to which there will be more regions that will be facing paucity of water resources which means more land will have to be brought under irrigation resulting in hike in the prices of agriculture products. Similarly, unseasonal heavy rainfall in some areas hit the crop production badly causing severe plant diseases resulting in fewer yields than average.
Ocean acidification: With the rise in temperature, more evaporation of water-bodies will take place. As a result, excessive formation of clouds will lead to more rainfall causing immense climatic differences in various parts of earth.
Climate: The climatic change could alter the frequencies of tornadoes and hurricanes. Some other extreme weather conditions caused due to global warming are heat waves, strong tropical storms and wildfires leading to huge damage to the ecosystem. In 2003, Europe faced one the most disastrous onslaught of heat waves when more than 40,000 people succumbed to death due to severe hot conditions.
Plant life: Forest fires due to high temperature and heat waves have been destroying plant ecosystem in huge amount. The forests are shifting to the Arctic Tundra which was once the snow-clad surface. The species that are unable to shift is expected to become extinct in this process of transition. The whole schedule of plant life cycle can go a massive change and the flowers will bloom and the fruits will ripe in altogether different season, much before or after the insects that pollinate become active thereby restricting the horizontal growth of different plant species naturally.
Animal Life: The animals are shifting to higher altitudes and those who are incapable of doing so are facing extinction. According to research by wildlife research scientist Martyn Obbard, lack of appropriate environmental and food conditions have made the polar bear a lot skinnier. It is feared that if the conditions in these regions are not restored polar bears will be wiped off completely from earth's surface. The number of Adélie penguins in Antarctica has decreased to 11000 from 32000 in past three decades. Butterflies and foxes have already shifted their habitat to higher altitudes.
Ocean life: Polluted, warm and infected sea-water is expected to kill many sensitive species from of the ocean floor and more cholera infection causing bloom of algae is expected. This will stunt the growth of other sea weeds and can work as trap for the delicate animal life and restrict their movement.
Health: Increase in overall temperature world wide is expected to lessen immunity of the global population. The continuous outbreaks of malaria, brain fever (dengue) and Hanta virus in different parts of the world is the resultant of global warming conditions and the mosquitoes causing malaria are expected to increase by 65 % due to favorable warm conditions. According to Harvard Medical School, the occurrences of kidney stones and related renal diseases, are expected to rise. Skin diseases, especially skin cancer is considered to be indirectly caused by global warming.
Air pollution: Increase in the amount of carbon dioxide and other green house gases in the atmosphere will decrease the quality of air we breathe and are exposed to causing several respiratory and eye related disorders. Rise in the temperature of air due to heat trapping gases can make the air relatively more volatile and toxic.
Global economy: With the agriculture field getting harshly hit due to global warming, the food production will become costlier and the supply is expected to be comparatively less. Frequent wildfires, slow tree growths and increase in pests is already affecting the timber industry that has brought down the revenue of timber revenue in US from $ 2 billion to $1billion. Resource dependent industries and states that rely on agricultural products and energy supply are going to be worst affected by the reduction in hydro-electricity production and agricultural raw materials.
What are the warming signs of Global Warming?
Some of the facts on global warming are:
The NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) has stated that since 1880, the temperature all over the world has gone up by 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
Some parts of Western Canada, Alaska and Eastern Russia have witnessed rise in temperature two times more than other parts of the world.
Ice in the Arctic region is melting fast. It is estimated that by 2040, the region will have its first ever ice-free summer. The indigenous cultures and polar bears have suffered the most due to Arctic sea ice loss.
The mountain glaciers are melting fast. The Montana’s Glacier National Park used to have 150 glaciers during 1910 as compared to only 27 in 2011.
How can we stop Global Warming?
Start using highly efficient CFL bulb instead of incandescent bulb. The CFL bulbs are energy efficient and provide ample light using relatively less amount of electricity as compared to incandescent bulb.
Regularly inflate your tiers. This helps to enhance the average run of your vehicle thereby reducing use of petroleum gas .
Regularly keep a check on the air filter of your car and change it when necessary. The filter is used for long takes up more energy and gives out highly toxic fumes.
Try reducing garbage by purchasing products without or very less packaging. Instead use recycled plastic, paper and glass. This will help control the piling of toxic pollution and decrease the utility of resources per person in turn decreasing the carbon footprint.
Promote and practice carpooling whenever possible to save fuel use.
Always keep the electrical appliances unplugged when not in use because as long as the plugs are attached to the board, some amount of electric flow is constant which ultimately is wasted.
Turn off light, AC and fan whenever you leave the room to save wastage of power.
Try to make use of cold water as much possible to save energy use needed for heating water. Instead try using solar heater.
Eat more vegetarian products like fruits, grains and vegetable that takes comparatively less resources for production.
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