Climate Change Essay Example
Experts say that the planet is getting warmer, and “humans are largely responsible for recent climate change” (Climate change: Basic Information, 2013). The problem is that “the planet is undergoing one of the largest changes in climate since the dinosaurs went extinct” (Climate changing 10 times faster than ever in 65 million years, 2013). Some arid areas in Africa over the past 25 years have become even drier. Sandy winds are getting stronger. The problem of drinking water in dry areas of the Earth becomes sharper. Many experts believe that the human race endangers the global ecological system due to global warming caused by the so-called greenhouse effect.
The aim of this work is to study the climate change on Earth. In order to achieve it, the causes of climate change should be investigated. After analysis of the issue, defining the concept of global warming, its impact on humanity and preventive measures will be considered in order to reduce the level of climate change on Earth
The Causes of Climate Change
Climate is defined “as the average weather in a certain place. It includes patterns of temperature, precipitation (rain or snow), humidity, wind and seasons” (What is climate change?, 2012). One cannot disagree with the fact that the Earth’s climate is constantly changing and it becomes a global problem for the humanity. The fact of global climate change is confirmed by scientific observations and is not disputed by most scholars. Nevertheless, there are several opinions concerning climate change. Some scientists use the term of “global warming” and make apocalyptic predictions. Others predict the onset of a new “Ice Age” and also make apocalyptic predictions (Effects of Global Warning, 2009). There are also the scientists who believe that climate change is natural, and there is evidence for that and the fact that catastrophic climate change is inevitable. The evidences of climate change are well known. For example, the increasing temperature on the globe (milder winters, hotter and drier summer months), the melting of glaciers and rise of a sea level, destructive typhoons and frequent hurricanes, floods and droughts in United States, Europe, Australia, etc. The main driver of climate is the sun. For example, the uneven heating of the earth’s surface (it is greater at the equator) is one of the main causes of winds and ocean currents, and the periods of high solar activity are accompanied by warming and magnetic storms. Moreover, climate change is affected by the change of the Earth’s orbit, its magnetic field, the size of continents and oceans, volcanoes. All of them are the natural causes of climate change. Until recently, they were the only power that determined climate change, including the beginning and end of long-term climate cycles such as ice ages. Solar and volcanic activity can explain changes in temperature up to half of 1950 (solar activity leads to an increase in temperature and volcanic – to its decrease). However, recently, another factor of climate change has appeared – the anthropological one that is determined by human activity. The main anthropological influence is the appearance of greenhouse effect, which impact on climate change in the past two centuries is up to 8 times higher than the effect of changes in solar activity.
The Concept and Essence of the Greenhouse Effect
The greenhouse effect is considered as “an increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere leading to an increase in the amount of infrared or thermal radiation near the surface” (What is the Greenhouse Effect?, 2013). The greenhouse effect is of great importance in the process of climate change: “Although greenhouse gases make up only about 1 percent of the Earth’s atmosphere, they regulate our climate by trapping heat and holding it in a kind of warm-air blanket that surrounds the planet” (What is the greenhouse effect?, 2013). The greenhouse gases, which affect the heat balance of the Earth, are steam, carbon dioxide, methane, ozone, nitric oxide and halocarbons.
Greenhouse gases have always been present in the atmosphere in small amounts (about 0.1%) from the time of its formation. This amount was sufficient to maintain because due to the greenhouse effect, the heat balance on Earth is at a suitable level for life. This is called “the natural greenhouse effect”. Nevertheless, the increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere leads to the greenhouse effect and disruption of the heat balance. That is what happened in the last two centuries of civilization. Coal-fired power plants, factory smokestacks, automobile exhausts and other sources of pollution created by mankind emit about 22 billion tons of greenhouse gases per year.
Global Warming and Human Impact on It
Global warming means a gradual increase in the average temperature of the planet caused by rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. According to direct observations of climate (temperature change over the last two hundred years), the average temperature of the Earth has increased significantly, and although the reasons for this are still a matter of debate, but one of the most widely discussed is the anthropological greenhouse effect. Anthropological increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere disturbs the natural heat balance of the planet, enhances the greenhouse effect, and as a result, causes global warming. More facts in favor of the influence of human activities on global climate change have appeared. There are the following ones among them:
1. The Southern part of the ocean has lost its ability to absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide, and this will further accelerate global warming on the planet.
2. In the last five years, the flow of heat coming from the Sun to the Earth is declining, but one might observe not cooling, but warming on the Earth.
The Effects of Global Warming
Global warming will greatly affect the lives of many animals (National Geographic 1996-2013). For example, polar bears, seals and penguins will be forced to change their place of residence, as the polar ice caps will disappear. Many plant and animal species will also disappear, being unable to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. 250 million years ago, global warming has killed three quarters of all life on Earth. Global warming changes the climate on a global scale. The increase in the number of climate disasters, floods because of hurricanes, desertification and reduced summer precipitation by 15-20% in the main agricultural areas, the increase of the temperature level in the ocean, the translocation of the boundaries and many other things are expected to be prevalent on Earth unless any measures taken. Moreover, according to some forecasts, global warming will cause the onset of the Little Ice Age. In the 19th century, the cause of this cold snap was the eruption of volcanoes. The desalination of the oceans because of melting glaciers may be the reason of global warning in the 21st century.
The mankind may be affected in the following way: the lack of drinking water, the increasing number of infectious diseases, poor harvest, the growth of the number of deaths because of floods, hurricanes, heat waves and droughts. The most serious blow can be inflicted on the poorest countries, which are the least responsible for the aggravation of the problem and are the least prepared to the change climate.
The destruction of well-established farming systems under the influence of droughts, irregular rainfall, etc. can actually deliver on the brink of starvation around 600 million people. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the health of hundreds of millions of people could be at risk from the spread of malaria (because of the increase in the number of mosquitoes in flooded areas), intestinal infections (because of the violation of water supply and sewerage systems), etc.
The Measures to Prevent Global Warming
Several documents have been adopted in order to prevent global warming. In particular, in December of 1997 the Kyoto Protocol was adopted. The Kyoto Protocol requires industrialized countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 2013). In 2007, in Bali a new protocol was signed. It expands the list of measures in order to reduce the human impact on climate change (Khor, 2007).
According to the Bali protocol, humanity has to:
- Reduce the burning of fossil fuels. Today, 80% of our energy comes from fossil fuel which burning is a major source of greenhouse gases.
- Use renewable energy sources more rapidly. Solar and wind energy, biomass energy, geothermal energy and tidal energy – the use of such energies becomes a key factor for long-term sustainable development of humanity.
- Stop the destruction of ecosystems.
- Reduce the energy losses in the production and transportation of the energy.
- Use new energy-efficient technologies in industries.
- Reduce power consumption in the construction and housing sector.
- Adopt new laws and incentives. New laws should admit higher taxes to the companies that exceed limits for CO2 emissions, and provide tax incentives to the producers of renewable energy sources and energy-efficient products.
- Create new ways of moving. One needs to encourage the use of new environmentally friendly means of transport, to support public transportation, to develop infrastructure for cyclists.
- Promote and encourage energy conservation and sustainable use of natural resources by residents of all the countries.
All these measures will help to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by developed countries for 80% by 2050, and developing – for 30% by 2030.
Recently, the problem of the greenhouse effect becomes more and more acute (The Encyclopedia of Earth, 2012). Climate conditions in the world require urgent actions. The proof of this are the effects of greenhouse effect, manifested today. Continuous rains cause the increase of water level in rivers and lakes. Overflowing rivers flood coastal communities, forcing their residents to move or experience considerable damages.
The role of humanity in the process of global warming has become apparent. The humanity has to realize its responsibility for global warming. Moreover mankind should be more interested in applying preventive measures to reduce the effects of global climate change. Otherwise, the global disaster will be inevitable in the near future.
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EPA. United States Environmental Protection Agency 2013, Climate change: basic information. Viewed 4 August 2013
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Khor, M 2007, ‘Bali climate talks to decide fate of Kyoto Protocol’, Third World Network. Viewed 4 August 2013
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