Global warming refers to “the rising average temperature of the earth’s atmosphere and oceans” (Houghton, 2004, p. 14). The rise in the temperature of the atmosphere began towards the end of the nineteenth century and is expected to continue rising. This report has been written due to the adverse effects associated with global warming.
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Scientists have proved that increase in global warming is a direct threat to human life and all other organisms that live on the earth’s surface and water bodies. The negative effects of global warming include climatic changes which in turn reduce food supply and cause destruction to ecosystems and habitats (Maslin, 2007, p. 34).
The objectives of this report are to identify the causes of global warming, to highlight the expected effects of global warming and to identify ways of reducing global warming. The scope of this report is limited to the natural causes of global warming, as well as, the causes attributed to human activity. Additionally, the report will cover the existing and potential effects of global warming on all living organisms.
The data or information used in this report was collected through a review of existing literature on global warming. Consequently, a number of primary and secondary data sources were used.
The primary sources included research findings published or posted on websites of leading research institutions such as NASA. Secondary data sources included textbooks and journal articles on global warming. The information posted on research institutions’ websites was chosen due to its reliability and ease of access. Institutions such as NASA are renowned for excellent research on climatic and geological matters.
Thus, their findings can be considered reliable. Similarly, information from textbooks and journal articles are reliable since they are normally verified before being published. The selected data sources dates from 2001 to 2011. The search results from websites were quite positive in terms of quantity and quality of information, as well as, ease of access. However, accessing data from textbooks and journals was limited by access restrictions to databases and libraries.
Analysis of Findings
Causes of Global Warming
In general, the findings of the research indicate that global warming is attributed to natural phenomena and human activities. The main findings on the causes of global warming can, thus, be explained as follows.
External forcing are those “processes that are external to the climate, but influence the climate system” (Weart, 2008, p. 45). The main types of external forcing include volcanic activity, changes in the earth’s orbit and solar luminosity.
These processes “affect the climate by changing the composition of the atmosphere” (Elliot, 2008, p. 67). Changes in solar luminosity and increase in volcanic activities in the nineteenth and twentieth century are the main causes of recent climatic changes (Weart, 2008, p. 47). Changes in the earth’s orbit have significant but slow effect on climate change.
This is attributed to the fact that changes in the earth’s orbit takes place over a very long period of time. Thus, the effects might not be felt immediately. Currently, the orbit cycle is expected to be at a cooling stage which should cause an ice age. Contrary to the expectations, empirical research reveals a rapid increase in global temperatures. The sudden increase in temperatures is an indication of global warming.
Particulates and Soot
Volcanic activities and pollution caused by human beings releases particulates into the atmosphere. The particulates reflect sunlight away from the earth, thereby causing a cooling effect (Dinar, 2009, p. 63). The cooling effect leads to a process referred to as global dimming. Global dimming refers to a steady decline in direct irradiance on the surface of the earth. Soot can cause either cooling or warming effects. Soot usually absorbs solar radiation, thereby heating the atmosphere and cooling the earth surface (Leroux, 2005, p. 67).
Greenhouse effect occurs when “absorption and emission of infrared radiation by atmospheric gases warm the earth’s lower atmosphere and surface” (Hardy, 2003, p. 74). The main greenhouse gases that cause global warming include water vapor, carbon dioxide, ozone and methane (Metz, 2010, p. 98).
The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is mainly increased by human activities such as burning fossil fuels. Increase in deforestation has also led to significant increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (Saddlerback, 2009, p. 56). Greenhouse gases can also be released into the atmosphere through volcanic eruptions.
Variations in the “amount of solar energy reaching the earth’s surface have also contributed to global warming and climate change” (Mary, 2009, p. 68). Rapid increase in solar activities has warming effects on the stratosphere. This observation has been explained by the fact that the sun’s magnetic activity normally deflects cosmic rays (Haldar, 2011, p. 79). As a result, formation of cloud condensation nuclei is reduced, thereby causing climatic changes.
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Feedback is a situation whereby a change in one quantity leads to changes in a second quantity and vice versa (Elliot, 2008, p. 122). Thus, feedback has the potential of amplifying or diminishing any process that cause global warming. Water vapor feedback is considered to be positive while irradiative cooling is considered a negative feedback (Laurie, 2006, p. 47).
Effects of Global Warming
Significant rise in global temperature will result into proportionate rise in sea levels. Thus, the precipitation pattern will change and deserts will probably expand. Intense warming is expected to occur at the Arctic, thereby causing retreat of glaciers, sea ice, as well as, permafrost (Spencer, 2005, p. 89). Increase in warming is also expected to cause extreme weather conditions such as droughts, heavy rainfall, and heat waves.
Warming and the underlying changes in climate will differ from one region to another. Scientists believe that human beings will not be able to survive if the global temperatures rise above the preindustrial levels by four degrees. Additionally, other species will be extinct in most parts of the world. The climatic changes associated with global warming are likely to affect human beings and other species in the following ways.
Climatic changes are likely to cause natural disasters such as severe floods, wildfires, heat waves and storms. These disasters will cause injuries and lose of many lives in many parts of the world (Brooman, 2001, p. 93). Predicting natural disasters such as floods is often very difficult. Thus, most countries are often caught unawares, and this leads to lose of many lives and destruction of other species. Increase in air temperatures encourages spread of diseases, which further threatens the survival of human beings.
Food supply heavily depends on the weather conditions such as rainfall, temperatures and humidity. Reduction in rainfall will lower food production since crops, livestock, as well as, fish can not survive without water (NRDC, 2011). As temperatures increase, underground sources of water such as boreholes will dry up.
Rivers and water reservoirs such as dams will also dry up. Thus, irrigation will not be possible. Lack of sufficient food supply will lead to low productivity and possibly extinction of mankind. Additionally, climatic changes are likely to affect water use. In particular, it will affect the quality, as well as, quantity of water for domestic and irrigation purposes. For instance, rising sea levels can cause contamination of coastal groundwater.
Climatic changes are not only costly to cope with, but also require a lot of time to manage. Disasters such as floods and wildfire cause destruction to infrastructure and property (Leroux, 2005, p. 117). Repairing the damaged infrastructure or building new ones normally cost a lot of money which might not be readily available. Besides, natural disasters attributed to climatic changes normally disrupt economic activities.
The injuries and diseases caused by such disasters also increase medical expenses. As food production decline due to changes in climate, the cost of food tends to increase. Additionally, many countries have had to set aside a significant amount of their financial resources to cater for any disasters that might arise from climatic changes.
Global warming is expected to significantly change or limit land use. Precipitation will increase as the atmosphere holds more water due to warming. Land ices such as glaciers, and ice sheets will rapidly melt as global warming intensifies. Water from the melting ice coupled with expansion of sea water will lead to arise in sea level.
The resulting impact will be a reduction of land surface area as water occupies more land space (Andress, 2010, pp. 51-64). Besides, the draughts caused by climatic changes will make a better part of land inhabitable. The habitats of other living organisms will also be destroyed.
Climatic changes will affect the ocean chemistry in a number of ways. For instance, it is likely to increase or decrease the salinity of the ocean, the level of acidity will increase and the supply of nutrients will reduce (Ashenfelter, 2011, pp. 143-148). These changes will negatively impact organisms that live in oceans and other water bodies such as rivers and lakes. Most of the species living in water bodies will, thus, become extinct.
In general, research findings reveal that global warming can not be reduced or stopped through a single solution. Consequently, a set of strategies or approaches must be used simultaneously in order to reduce emission of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. The following strategies can be used to reduce global warming.
Improving Energy Efficiency
The energy used in homes, business premises, as well as, industries for heating or cooling purposes is one of the main causes of global warming. Thus, conserving energy through energy efficiency technologies become apparent. Such technologies facilitate the use of less energy to get the same level of service or production (Green-space international, 2011). Examples of energy efficiency technologies include the use of florescent tubes instead of regular bulbs.
The emission of greenhouse gases in the transport sector grows faster than in any other sector. The rapid rise in emissions in this sector is attributed to the increase in demand for transport services in the last decade. Reducing emissions in the transport sector can be achieved by reducing the amount of petrol used per mile by encouraging the use of fuel efficient cars, trains and aircrafts (Dauncy, 2001, p. 58).
By switching to the use of low-carbon fuels, the emissions in the transport sector can be reduced significantly (NASA, 2012). Vehicle miles can be reduced by encouraging walking and cycling over short distances. Additionally, a reliable and fuel-efficient mass transportation system will help in reducing the number of cars in use. Thus, carbon emission will significantly reduce.
Revitalizing the use Renewable Energy
This involves encouraging the use of renewable sources of energy and discouraging or terminating the use of fossil fuel. Energy sources that can be renewed include solar, wind, as well as, geothermal power (NASA, 2012). Empirical studies reveal that the renewable energy sources have the ability to meet most countries’ energy needs. The use of nuclear power should also be encouraged since it involves less emission of greenhouse gases.
Forests and Agriculture
Deforestation and agricultural production account for approximately thirty percent of heat-trapping emissions. Consequently, global warming can be reduced by discouraging deforestation (Hardy, 2003, p. 231). Sustainable food production methods can also help in reducing global warming.
Both poor and developed countries contribute to climate change through emission of greenhouse gases. However, the developed countries have greater resources and technologies to fight global warming than developing countries. Thus, developed countries should assist developing countries to adopt low-carbon technologies through financial assistance (Elliot, 2008, p. 156).
The objective of this report was to indentify the causes of global warming, the effects of global warming and how to prevent global warming. The main conclusions that can be drawn from the investigation are that global warming is caused by human activities and natural occurrences.
Human activities such as “burning fossil fuels and natural phenomena such as volcanic eruption emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere” (Dinar, 2009, p. 51). As a result, the atmospheric temperature increases, thereby causing climatic changes (NASA, 2012).
The changes in climate as a result of global warming are a direct threat to survival of human beings and other species. In particular, such climatic changes lead to destruction of habitats, increase in the spread of diseases and reduction of food supply. Given the adverse effects of global warming, reducing emission of greenhouse gases is highly recommended (Elliot, 2008, p. 158). This can be achieved by adopting energy efficiency technologies, focusing on sustainable development and encouraging the use of renewable energy.
The primary sources of data helped me to focus on the research topic by providing information on the most important aspects of global warming. For instance, having realized the significance of the effects of global warming through the primary sources, I decided to concentrate on the causes, effects and solutions to global warming. The internet sources and print items such as books were the most useful.
The internet sources were useful since they had the latest information while the print sources had detailed information about the topic. The mitigation strategy is the most interesting part of the report. This is because it enabled me to realize that global warming can be reduced. Thus, human beings and other species can be saved from extinction.
This report has enabled me to acquire the skills needed to plan, design and complete a report in time. Students who intend to complete a similar report in future should focus on early planning and utilizing reliable sources of information in order to succeed. Given the difficulty in accessing some secondary sources of data such as textbooks, I may use a different method of collecting data in future. For instance, I may use interviews to collect data.
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NASA, 2012. Global Climate Change. Web.
NRDC, 2011. Global Warming Solutions. Web.
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