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What is Global Warming

Extensive discussions have taken place in the last few decades in different media on climate change and global warming. Judging from the ongoing debate, global warming is a major concern today. The increase in political resolutions, enormous scientific discourse, and continual coverage of global climate change indicate that global climate change is now a major distress. If the earth’s temperatures continue to rise unceasing, all the gains realized through civilization could be eroded within a short period of time. The phenomenon has already affected many countries negatively. Since the start of the 19th century, global temperatures have been increased significantly. As a result, large icebergs have continued to melt, leading to a rise in sea level. Scientists have also observed that mountain glaciers are retreating quickly. Additionally, countries in different parts of the world have recorded changes in weather patterns. Over the past decades, some countries including Ecuador and Peru have witnessed extensive flooding which in addition to causing damage to property has resulted in the loss of many lives of people. On the other hand, other parts have been affected by extended periods of drought.  The phenomenon has caused widespread concern, prompting different countries to allocate considerable resources in an effort to combat it. However, success has been slow.What is Global Warming

According to Hardy (2003), global warming is the continuing increase in the average temperature of the earth. Scientists have demonstrated that it begins the moment the light and heat from the sun reaches the earth. About 30% of this energy is reflected back to space by clouds, ground or water surfaces, and atmospheric particles. The remaining fraction is absorbed by oceans, land, and air and is responsible for maintaining the temperature of the planet and its atmosphere at a level that supports life. As the earth warms up, it radiates some of the absorbed solar energy in form of infrared rays and thereby cools itself. However, some of the radiation is reabsorbed by greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and O3 in the atmosphere and reflected back to the earth, thereby causing the temperature of the planet to rise.What is Global Warming

Global warming relates directly to the course health and human ecology. It is evident that this area of study concerns itself with ecological factors that influence health, exploring the effect of various economic activities on the environment, and studying various forms of pollutions to inform the human race on the best way to make use of ecosystem while preserving it for the future generations. Therefore, it focuses on studying human activities in different forms of environments. In most cases, these interactions end up damaging biophysical as well as the ecological systems that are in the world (Moore, 2007). Over the past few centuries, human actions have altered natural environmental systems that have existed in the earth for thousands of years resulting in the climate change that has been experienced over the past three decades. It is important for everyone to understand that these systems play an essential role in sustaining life processes and without them, human health would be at risk. Moreover, depletion or disruption of these processes would render it impossible to solve health inequalities. With the current environmental destruction, it difficult to attain a number of goals such as those set by the UN to improve human health by the end of the millennium (Moore, 2007).

With regard to the human and ecological application of global warming, its impacts on the planet are increasingly becoming visible. Between July and August 2003, a killer heat wave hit Europe, resulting in the hottest summer to have been experienced on the continent over a period of more than 500 years. More than 30,000 people lost their lives. The continent’s vital sectors such as agriculture, energy, and forestry also suffered a loss of more than $15 billion as a result of the heat, wildfires, and drought experienced during that period (Wang & Chameides, 2005). Other countries including the US and India have also experienced dangerous heat waves that have claimed thousands of lives.What is Global Warming

The data that has been gathered by researchers indicate that the rising global temperatures have resulted in an increase in precipitation intensity. In 1999 for instance, the extensive flooding experienced in different parts of the South American continent resulted in the loss of lives of more than 30, 000 people (Wang & Chameides, 2005). The huge amount of rainfall was experienced in other countries such as Peru and Ecuador resulting in huge damages. While this was happening in Southern America, large swaths of Southern Europe, Central and Southern Asia, and North America experienced below-normal precipitation that was accompanied by high temperatures. In some parts that included the western US, the situation persisted until 2004, marking the longest severe drought to have hit the nation for over a period of 80 years. Scientists attributed this climatic change to strangely warm waters in both western Pacific and the Indian Ocean that they believe is as a result of global warming. In this century, it has been identified that insects now inhabit forests where it was previously too cold to the extent that they could not survive. In Alaska for instance, large populations of spruce bark beetles have emerged. In 2004, the region experienced its warmest summer that caused a devastating wildfire. What is Global Warming

The most evident impact of rising global temperature has been the rising sea-level. In the 20th century, the average rise of seal levels ranged from 10 to 20cm representing ten times the normal rate during the past 3,000 years (Wang & Chameides, 2005). Over the coming years, the rise will accelerate if large ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland collapse. Already, different places in the world have started to experience the negative effects of a rising sea level. In Bermuda for instance, recently drowned trees can be seen at the edge of its mangrove forests. It is projected that with the accelerated global warming, many parts in Bangladesh and the eastern US will be submerged or experience the worst flooding ever, resulting in loss of densely populated land.

Scientists have identified that mountain snowpack is an essential freshwater reservoir (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 2007). In the past five decades, however, snowpack along the Cascade Range and the Rocky Mountains has been shrinking as a result of the rising global temperatures (Wang & Chameides, 2005). It has also been discovered that in the western US, springtime snowmelt starts nine days earlier. The consequence has been very low stream levels in the dry summer months that follow. It is evident that solving water shortages experienced in western US will be difficult unless the challenge of global warming is addressed fully. Glaciers have been retreating in almost all mountainous regions, thereby threatening tourism and causing severe water shortages. Over a period of almost 200 years, more than 50% of the ice in Glacier National Park, Montana has been depleted. While Venezuela had seven glaciers four decades ago, it now has just two. Since 1912, more than 82% of ice on Mt. Kilimanjaro has melted away, with the greatest portion disappearing over the past two decades.What is Global Warming

A similar situation has been experienced in other places such as the polar region where ice and permafrost have over the years disintegrated (Wang & Chameides, 2005). The Antarctic Peninsula has experienced 2°C rise in temperature resulting in the disintegration of Larsen B ice shelf. If more ice continues to melt, global sea level will continue to rise. The Ward Hunt Ice Shelf, which was the largest in the Arctic, broke into two, destroying a freshwater lake that supported a rare microbial ecology. There has also been an increase in the destruction to coral reefs during the past three decades as a result of mass bleaching. Scientists have already established that such damage to corals is as a result of excessively high temperatures. Researchers have analyzed over 1, 500 species including fish and mammals and established that the majority of them are shifting to higher elevations or altitudes and changing their normal yearly routes as a result of the rising temperatures. If the situation is not addressed, it will lead to disruptive economic and ecological changes that can cause entire species to become extinct.

According to Brath et al. (2015), climate science started nearly 200 years ago following description and explanation of greenhouse effect by Joseph Fourier. In 1896, Svante Arrhenius who was a Swedish physical chemist carried out extensive studies on the effect of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide gas on the climate. By the mid-20th century, scientists had come to the conclusion that global warming as a result of the increased concentration of greenhouse gases. 1992 saw the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change by 196 countries with the ultimate goal of stabilizing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to protect climate system from being interfered with through human activities. Presently, all parties in this convention meet exchange mutual responses and views about climate change. The Kyoto protocol that was adopted in 1997 in Kyoto Japan came into effect in 2004 (Wewerinke & Yu, 2010). Its aim was to ensure that developed nations reduced greenhouse gases to the levels that existed before the 1990s by 2010. However, it expired in 2012 without achieving much gain given that some Western countries including Canada had already pulled out. In 2009, different countries came together and drew the Copenhagen Accord, marking the first time in history that countries recognized the threat posed by greenhouse gases and the need to maintain global temperatures rise below 2°C. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the only legally-binding treaty that has been established to guide all international actions aimed at addressing climate change.What is Global Warming

I developed an interest in global warming the moment I discovered that our generation will be the first one to inherit severe problems as a result of climate change due to our failure to take care of the environment and ecosystem in which we live. This realization prompted me to learn more. With time, I learned that human actions are the main causes of global warming. Moreover, if humanity is the cause of climate change, then it is possible to control and eventually stop it altogether through appropriate human interventions. Peer-reviewed literature indicates that the earth has increasingly become warmer as a result of greenhouse gases that trap heat from the sun, preventing it from escaping into space. Human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels, industrial processes like the manufacture of cement, and clearing of land have been mentioned to contribute to large amounts of greenhouse gases responsible for raising global temperatures. Global warming is, therefore, a huge problem that needs to be addressed by every human being if we are to pass a sustainable planet for the next generation.

Experts addressing the problem or global warming indicate that to fully the problem, large-scale and collective actions are needed. It is upon entire countries and states to use clean energy systems. Subsequently, several accords have been reached, the latest being the Paris Agreement of 2015 where countries pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Unfortunately, the US pulled out of the deal. It is evident that some societies have continued to put off action making the risks to increasingly become severe. All countries in the world should continue to invest in energy sources that emit zero greenhouse gases. They include hydroelectric power or using solar and wind energy as opposed to relying on thermal power plants. As world leaders develop policies that will hopefully curb the rate of greenhouse gas emissions, we should develop habits that although small, may cumulatively have a big positive impact on the environment in which we live. The best approach would be to adopt a circular economy with the aim of mitigating resource shortage. We should shift from non-renewable sources of energy and use renewable ones instead. Furthermore, we should avoid using toxic chemicals and device better methods of disposing of waste.What is Global Warming

It is evident that global warming poses a great threat to maintaining a healthy ecosystem that can continue to support life. Unfortunately, human beings have a serious vulnerability of wanting to feel comfortable as long as they do not perceive any imminent crisis. This, in turn, can hamper efforts aimed at making long-term plans to address the current situation. Therefore, it is important for every person to be informed about global warming and to be involved in implementing the solutions. I would try to influence individuals, industries, and businesses to work harder in implementing long-lasting solutions that will bring down the amount of greenhouse gases being emitted each day.

 

 

References

Brath, B., Friesen, T., Guerard, Y., Jacques-Brissette, C., Lindman, C., Lockridge, K., … & Walke, B. J. (2015). Climate change and resource sustainability: An overview for actuaries. Canadian Institute of Actuaries, Canada.

Hardy, J. T. (2003). Climate change: Causes, effects, and solutions. John Wiley & Sons.

Moore, G. S. (2007). Living with the earth: Concepts in environmental health science. CRC Press.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.(2007). Impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptation in developing countries. Climate Change Secretariat (UNFCCC).

Wang, J., & Chameides, B. (2005). Global Warming’s Increasingly Visible Impacts. Environmental Defense.

Wewerinke, M., & Yu, V. P. (2010). Addressing Climate Change Through Sustainable Development and the Promotion of Human Rights. South Centre.