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An Inconvenient Truth is a documentary that talks about global warming as championed by Al Gore, the former vice president of the United States. In the film, Al Gore explains the effects of climate change caused by global warming and the reason why leaders across the world need to address climate change as an emergency issue.
Gore states that the leaders are not ready to listen to the truth regarding the grave effects of global warming because it is not convenient for them to hear, and therefore they choose to ignore the truth (8).
In the documentary, frequent hurricanes like Katrina that took place in the Pacific Ocean and the melting of polar ice caps are some of the serious effects posed by global warming. Therefore, the purpose of this essay is to assess the effects of global warming and climate change as presented in the documentary, An Inconvenient Truth.
Causes of Climate Change and Global Warming
Global warming is the average increase in the temperatures of the earth’s atmosphere. From the late 19th century, there has been a continuous increase in the temperatures of the earth. Scientists attribute the rise in the temperatures to the emissions of greenhouse gases, which emanate from human activities.
Venkataramanan notes that, “burning fossil fuels such as natural gas, coal, oil, and gasoline raises the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and carbon dioxide is a major contributor of the greenhouse effect and global warming” (228).
Hence, combustion of fossil fuels and deforestation result in emission of carbon dioxide, which is one of the greenhouse gases that affect the ozone layer. Scientists believe that if leaders and states do nothing to avert the crisis of climate change, people should expect drought, famine, increased sea levels, heat waves, and desertification.
However, many states have put in place various policies to reduce and minimize the effects of global warming on climate. The proposed policies include geo-engineering, reduction of greenhouse gases, and increased public awareness of environmental conservation.
Global warming, which led to climate change began during the industrialization period. Global warming began then due to the increased emission of greenhouse gases from industries, which have continued to increase in the modern society. When factories and business entities use fuels that contain carbon, it results in the formation of carbon dioxide.
The gas released from these industries enters the atmosphere and thickens the layer of greenhouse gases. This causes a relative increase in the temperatures of the earth. Furthermore, activities such as poor farming techniques, which that entails the use of chemicals, excessive use of non-renewable resources, and emissions from industries destroy the ozone layer and cause a subsequent increase in global temperatures.
According to Gore, “global warming along with cutting and burning of forests and other critical habitats are causing a loss of living species at a level comparable to the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs”(9). Thus, it is evident that human activities largely contribute to changes in climate due to the unending hunger and energy requirements.
Deforestation and poor methods of farming are also major causes of global warming and climate change. Since plants and animals use and exchange gases such oxygen and carbon dioxide, deforestation and poor farming methods results in biodiversity imbalance.
This implies that gaseous exchange will take place in an ecosystem where some components are in higher population than are in others, and therefore, cause an imbalance in the storage and use of carbon dioxide.
Venkataramanan asserts that, “all living plants store carbon, when those plants die and decay, carbon dioxide is released back into the atmosphere” (227). Hence, deforestation, poor methods of conservation, and use of chemicals to kill pests and weeds have high impact on climate change and global warming.
Effects of Climate Change and Global Warming
Global warming has many negative impacts on animals and plants that inhabit the earth. Changes in weather patterns, increased temperatures, and glaciations have led to dire effects on the planet and its inhabitants. Schlesinger observes that, currently the world is experiencing increased rates of famines and droughts, scarcity of fresh water and rising levels of sea and ocean water (410).
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According to scientists, climate changes linked to global warming have adverse effects on the health of human beings. For example, the heat waves that took place in 2006 in North America caused the death of many people. Furthermore, if leaders do nothing urgently to stop global warming, glacier parks and polar bears risk disappearing.
Gore highlights example such as melting of ice in the northern polar and hurricanes such as Katrina in the pacific and Atlantic oceans as effects of global warming (8). It is, therefore, vital for the leaders of the world especially from developed countries to come together and devise strategies that will help reduce the effects of global warming and climate change.
Many countries that are near large water bodies like oceans and seas have already seen the effects of global warming. Countries like the Maldives are already looking for areas to relocate because of the rise in water levels. Moreover, many deadly storms, hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones caused by the rise in sea levels are increasing.
Bertelsmeier highlights that many regions of the world are experiencing scarcity of fresh water and increased salinity, which cause substantial decline in crop yields (373). Coral reefs and other species risk extinction because of increased heat on the surface of the earth. Therefore, to minimize the risk associated with global warming and climate change there is a need to use sources of energy that are environmentally friendly.
Furthermore, many ecosystems are changing because of the uncertainty in rainfall patterns. This has led to the scarcity of fresh water, decreased alkalinity of soil, and changes in the quality of food products. Moreover, these changes have caused adjustments of human settlements, agricultural production, and location of animals.
Though these effects are still minimal, and majorly indirect, they might increase if leaders and people living in the world ignore them. Polar bears and other aquatic animals are increasingly dying by drowning, as they have to swim for long distances between the fast melting ice and glaciers.
Global warming is also causing a wide range of visible changes. There are notable changes in the patterns of rainfall in the world. The change in patterns of rainfall owes its emergence to global warming and climate changes. According to Venkataramanan, sea levels continue to rise due to melting of glaciers in mountains, while changes in rainfall patterns and climate is also evident (227).
Thus, diseases like malaria has shifted to new areas because mosquitoes migrate by follwing the changes in climate patterns. Moreover, mountain glaciers are gradually reducing, and if nothing happens quickly, many mountains and ice lands will become extinct.
Since oceans act as carbon dioxide sinks, excessive intake of carbon dioxide from greenhouse emissions, use of gasoline in transport, and chemicals from farms acidifies oceans. Consequently, acidification causes an overall increase in the levels of acidity and temperature of the oceans, which is a threat to aquatic animals and countries adjacent to these water bodies.
According to Al Gore, global warming and climate change is a crisis that leaders across the world should take quick and urgent measures to curb it. Many solutions can be useful in the reduction of the effects occasioned by global warming and climate change. The solutions require participation of the leaders and people living in the world because leaders cannot undertake these preventive measures alone, but need the support of the public.
Venkataramanan notes that, members of the public and leaders must refrain from using gasoline, oil, and coal, as they increase the amount of carbon dioxide (228).
Since carbon dioxide contributes to the global warming, the use of fuels that have high concentrations of carbon increases its emission into the atmosphere. Hence, it is very important for individuals and states to practice ways that can help reduce the effects of global warming.
The use of herbicides, insecticides, pesticides and other harmful farm chemicals should be discouraged. Farmers must be encouraged to use of organic fertilizers and other ways that are environmentally friendly in controlling pests. Another important strategy that is core in reducing the effects of global warming is forestation, reforestation, and reduction of deforestation.
Governments must ensure that there are effective measures, which help in the management and control of forested areas. According to Bertelsmeier, climate changes and global warming are highly dependent on the diverse social and economic human activities that cause emissions of greenhouse gases (372).
This assertion explains the fact that people have the power to regulate the amount of emissions that get into the atmosphere. Therefore, if there is a continuation in the use agricultural chemicals that have chlorofluorocarbons, then the effects associated with global warming and climate change will increase.
The documentary by Al Gore is very instrumental in increasing the level of awareness held by the world concerning global warming and climate change. The documentary brings to the fore the causes, effects, consequences, and possible solutions to the crisis.
During his tenure as the vice president, Al Gore fought for the implementation of the Kyoto protocol, which is an agreement designed to minimize the emissions of greenhouse gases in industrialized nations. He also campaigned for the implementation of carbon taxes that regulate the carbon in fuel by imposing some amount of tax on the content of carbon in the fuel.
The essay also discusses the causes, effects, and probable mitigation measures that can be effective in minimizing the effects posed by global warming and climate change. It also discusses the reasons why the society must embrace environmentally friendly practices in performing their activities so that the emissions of greenhouse gases could reduce.
Thus, industries and business entities should minimize the use of fuels that have high levels of carbon, while farmers should use alternative ways of controlling pests and weeds to reduce emission of chlorofluorocarbons.
Bertelsmeier, Cleo. “Impacts of Climate Change on the Future of Biodiversity.” Ecology Letters 15.4(2012): 365-377. Print.
Gore, Al. An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and what We Can Do about it. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2006. Print.
Schlesinger, Michael. “Causes of Global Warming Observed since 19th Century.” Atmospheric and Climate Scences 2.4 (2012): 401-415. Print.
Venkataramanan, Smitha. “Causes and Effects of Global Warming.” Indian Journal of Science and Technology, 4.3 (2011): 226-229. Print.