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In the modern world, humanity is increasingly concerned about the issue of global climate change on Earth. In the last quarter of the twentieth century, people began to observe sharp warming. The number of winters with very low temperatures has decreased significantly, and the average surface air temperature has increased by about 0.8 °C (Zhong 482). Climate was naturally changing over millions of years, but nowadays, these processes are much faster. It worth mentioning that global climate change can lead to dangerous consequences for humanity. This essay considers factors, which provoke climate change, its effects, and several measures, which are vital to be taken to prevent worsening the situation.
Causes of Climate Change
Climate change implies the difference in the Earth’s global climate over time. The natural causes of climate change are shifts in the planetary orbit, changes in the geomagnetic field, movements of continental and oceanic plates, and volcanic eruptions. Throughout the history of the planet, they have influenced the climate, contributed to its cyclic fluctuations, called ice ages and interglacial periods. However, anthropogenic causes, which are associated with human activity, are added to the natural ones at this stage of existence of the planet (Nuttal, and Crate 10). The main reason for climate change in the 21st century is the greenhouse effect, the impact of which is eight times more intensive than the impact of solar radiation.
The greenhouse effect refers to the process when gases in Earth’s atmosphere trap the Sun’s heat. In other words, the atmosphere plays the role of an impermeable film, and the Earth can be compared to a huge greenhouse. Solar radiation passes through the Earth’s atmosphere and heats the surface, but the heat emanating from the heated surface of the planet, cannot go into space, and remains in the atmospheric layers. The reason for this phenomenon is the accumulation in the atmosphere because of anthropogenic activity of gases; that is why these gases are called greenhouse gases.
The anthropogenic factor contributing to the increased level of greenhouse gases involve different kinds of human activity. Firstly, it is the use of combustible minerals in industry, such as coal, oil, and natural gas, the combustion of which releases a vast amount of carbon dioxide and other harmful compounds into the atmosphere. Secondly, transport represents a huge problem as cars and trucks emit exhaust gases that pollute the air and increase the greenhouse effect.
More than that, humanity encountered the threat of deforestation, as the amount of carbon dioxide in the air increases because of the lack of trees. Another point to be made is that the constantly increasing population affects the demand for food, clothing, and housing. That is why industrial production is growing to ensure all these necessities, which also leads to the greenhouse effect.
Short-term and long-term solutions
The first short-term step is to stop deforestation, plant new trees, and shrubs, as they absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. Using electric vehicles will reduce the amount of exhaust gases (Quaschning 64). Moreover, it is essential to encourage people to use more bicycles, which is more convenient, cheaper, and safer for the environment. One of the most effective long-term solutions to the problem of climate change will be the economical use of energy resources and a limited amount of gas emissions into the atmosphere. Besides, it is crucial to eliminate the burning of coal, oil, and, eventually, natural gas.
However, it may become even the most significant challenge as a huge part of the population live and prosper due to the products made of these natural sources. Nevertheless, people need to employ alternatives when possible, such as plant-derived plastics or biodiesel, and to invest in the change, for instance, by supporting companies, which practice carbon capture and storage.
Furthermore, the use of alternative energy sources based on inexhaustible natural resources, such as solar panels, wind, or water power plants, is actively discussed nowadays. Solar energy, wind, tides, the thermal energy of the Earth’s interior are excellent environmental energy sources. Using them, people get electric energy without burning coal and gas. As for industrial emissions, they must be passed through chemical separators, which are stations for cleaning the outgoing gases from carbon dioxide. Furthermore, the construction of nuclear power plants, hydroelectric power plants, wind, and solar power plants helps to reduce overall emissions into the atmosphere.
Another appropriate solution can be increasing the reflectivity of the Earth. In some countries, people already tend to paint the roofs of new houses in white, which slightly reduces the temperature in the cities. Perhaps, in the future, it will be possible to create a system of giant solar screens in space, which, on the one hand, will produce energy and transmit it to the Earth, and on the other hand, it will close the Earth from the Sun and thus cool it.
Climate change is considered one of the most serious global environmental problems, which humanity faces today. In the worst-case scenario, climate change will cause catastrophic damage to the environment, human health, and the global economy. Unfortunately, only a small number of countries and their governments understand the real, catastrophic threat that has arisen. Transnational corporations, with industry in their power and living off oil, gas, and coal sales, are not going to optimize their processing and combustion. Nevertheless, it is critical to take some urgent measures, such as reducing gas emissions, preventing deforestation, using more eco-friendly technologies.
Nuttal, Mark, and Crate, Susan. Anthropology and Climate Change: From Encounters to Actions. Routledge, 2016.
Quaschning, Volker. Renewable Energy and Climate Change, 2nd Ed. John Wiley & Sons, 2019.
Zhong, C. X. “Causes of global climate change.” International Journal of Global Warming, 2016, pp. 482-495.