In its simplest definition, Global Warming is “the gradual increase of temperature of the earth’s surface.” Over the last 100 years, the average temperature of the earth has risen by 1.4°F (0.75°C). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) projects another 2 to 11.5 degrees F increase of earth temperature over the next century.
Previously, the reason for the increase in earth’s temperature was primarily natural. The natural increase of earth’s temperature was always within the safe level for humans and other life forms on planet. But the current ever-increasing rise of global temperature is caused mainly by the release of various greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by human activities.
Major Causes Of Global Warming
There are some important causes of global warming. But the most notable cause of global warming is increasing quantity of greenhouse gases that include carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane and fluorinated gases. These gases are released into the atmosphere by various human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.
The greenhouse effect is a natural process that traps heat in the atmosphere to keep the earth warm enough to sustain life. Without the release of the natural greenhouse gases, the earth would be too cold for human beings, animals, plants and other lives. But the excessive release of greenhouse gases make the earth too warm and have many negative effects for life on earth. Thus, human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases are the prime cause of global warming.
Producing electricity, powering vehicles and machinery are some common ways to burn fossil fuels such as oil and coal. These activities significantly increase the level of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. As trees take in carbon dioxide, cutting down, trees is another important reason for the ever-increasing amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The use of synthetic fertilizers, livestock manure management, and fossil fuel combustion are the reasons for the increased amount of Nitrous oxide in the atmosphere. Finally, Fluorinated gases are released into the atmosphere by refrigerators, manufacturing and cooling applications.
Effects of Global Warming
In a broad sense, global warming is the reason for harming the earth’s physical environment as well as the climate. Following are the most notable ways global warming is harming our environment:
Because of the global warming, arid and semi-arid areas are getting more and drier than before. Researchers have found a significant change in rainfall patterns and water cycle change in recent decades. They believe the prime reason for this shift or change is global warming. So, the water shortages are causing an intense amount of distress for people living in dry regions around the world. This whole process of water shortage and change in water cycle is being called as desertification.
Increased Melting of Snow And Ice
Maybe the not visible effect of global warming is the increased amount of melting down of snow and ice. The current level of melting of snow and ice is much faster than in the past. Scientists have found it in the Himalayas, Alps, Alaska, Rockies, Andes, and Africa. Melting down of ice is especially widespread in the Earth’s poles. Since the 1960s, the thickness of the Arctic ice has decreased by 48 percent. The perennial ice cover in the Arctic is melting down at the rent of 11.5 percent every decade. Over a million square miles of the icy sea surface has vanished just in last 30 years.
Sea level rise
Melting down of ice and snow is increasing the sea level as well. Since 1880, the overall sea level of the earth has risen by 8 inches (21 cm).
Some islands such as Kiribati, Maldives, Seychelles, Torres Strait Islands, Solomon Islands, Micronesia, and Palau are expected to go completely underwater within the next century or so. Scientists predict that depending on how the earth responds to the climate change and global warming; the earth sea level can increase from 16 inches to 56 inches from 2009 to 2100.
Ways To Lessen Global Warming
There are so many ways governments, local organizations, NGOs and even individuals can contribute to combat global warming. Following are some of the most notable ways to lessen the impacts of global warming:
Reduced Use of Fossil Fuel
As consumption of fossil fuels is one of the major reasons for global warming, governments and environmental organizations must create policies to reduce the use of various fossil fuels. We can contribute even in individual levels by using solar powers and other renewable energy in our home and office. Use of energy efficient appliances such as energy bulbs too can play a significant role in lessening the greenhouse gas effects.
As trees consume carbon dioxide, we need to plant as many trees as we can. We also need to find alternatives to cutting down trees. Even policies can be made to prevent cutting trees in certain areas and encourage planting trees.
The increased amount of waste generation contributes to global warming both directly and indirectly. Waste decomposing in the landfills generate methane and various other greenhouse gases. Re-designing products with recycling and reuse in mind, and reducing consumption patterns are great ways to reduce waste.
Cities around the world consume a significant amount of energy purifying and distributing water which to contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. So, we must be careful when using water to consume less water and conserve for future.