Global warming is defined as sustained increase in the surface temperature of the earth due to activities that cause green house gas emissions. Evidence shows that different economic activities lead to massive consumptions of energy that is derived from the burning of tones of fossil fuels.
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The burning of these fuels release tones of green house gases into the atmosphere which significantly contribute to the sustained increase in the surface temperature of the earth (Przybylak, 2000). The increase in temperature is also facilitated by what is referred to as external forcings and feedback effects.
Green house gas effects result when radiation from the sun is absorbed by different particles and gases found in the earth’s atmosphere. Once these gases and particles have absorbed the sun’s radiation or energy, they later on radiate back this energy in different directions. Scientific research shows that one of these directions is towards the earth’s surface.
The energy thus radiated has the potential to cause a small rise in temperature in the earth’s atmosphere. These gases include carbon dioxide, water vapor, and methane among several other gases. Scientific research and computer simulations indicate that even minor rises in temperature cause a significantly impacts on the earth’s climate. These temperature rises are the major cause of long standing environmental conditions that are being experienced now.
Mathematical calculations indicate that since the industrial revolution, thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide and other green house gases have been emitted into the atmosphere aggravating the green house effects much further. It has been demonstrated that in the last several decades a rise in temperature in the troposphere has been in the range of 0.18 degree centigrade. However a market increase was experiences beginning from the industrial age. On the other hand, temperatures in the lower troposphere have experienced a rise of o.4 degree centigrade.
Temperature changes vary with geographic locations. A comparison of temperature changes on the surface of the earth and the ocean indicates stark differences. Scientific evidence points out that the surface temperature of the earth doubles that of the ocean. According to Przybylak (2000), ocean temperatures rise slowly compared with land temperatures. This is basically due to the fact that the earth has a higher ability to retain heat than water masses which lose their heat much faster.
Another cause identified to be reason for global warming is an effect referred to external forcing. External forcing is a combination of volcanic eruptions, intense solar radiations, and the orientation of the earth to the sun. Jaworowski (1994) argues that thought some of these variations occur after several thousand of years, they have a significant effect on the modifications of the surface temperature of the earth.
Scientific evidence demonstrates that these solar variations significantly modify the temperature of the troposphere while green house gases modify the temperature of the stratosphere. These combinations have a profound effect in modifying the surface temperature of the earth.
Another element that has been identified to be the prime cause of global warming is the feedback effect. Feedback effects are alternate changes of different quantities. Different feedbacks have different effects. Positive feedback has an incremental effect on a quantity while negative feedback has a diminishing effect on a given quantity.
Global warming has been identified to be a positive element increasing the quantity of water vapor in the atmosphere. In essence, it has been demonstrated that water vapor has a significant contribution in global warming. This is achieved through the absorption of heat from the sun which is later on released into the earth’s atmosphere.
Andren, Andren and Sohlenius (2000) argue that high concentrations of green house gases have been identified to be the main factors that have immensely contributed to the rapidly changing global weather conditions. These changes have been evident in terms of unpredictable weather conditions, melting of the ice caps, prolonged droughts, and unpredictable floods. These unforgiving effects are principally caused by green house gas effects.
The effects of global warming are with us now. Rising sea levels have been recorded in this century (Vinje, 1999). These rises have been attributed to activities carried out by human beings particularly the burning of fossil fuels that have released millions of tonnes of green house gases into the atmosphere.
Ecological systems have not been left behind in the onslaught by effects of global warming. Massive migrations of animals have been experienced while some species particularly those that cannot migrate have been driven into extinction. In addition to that, reduced biodiversity has been the consequence of global warming.
Social systems have not been left behind in the onslaught. Regional variations particularly in the unpredictably changing weather conditions resulting in prolonged droughts, unpredictable rainfall patterns, severe floods, have been experienced. Agricultural land is diminishing, forests are disappearing, natural resources are diminishing, and these are being replaced by expanding deserts and semi-deserts. The consequences have been increasing food prices and frequent occurrences of famines on a global scale.
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There is an urgent need to address these issues and these calls upon all and sundry to rise and mitigate the effects of global warming both in public and private sectors.
Andren, E., Andren, T. & Sohlenius, G. (2000).The Holocene History of the Southern Baltic Sea As Reflected in a Sediment Core from the Bornholm Basin. Boreas, 29 (3), 233-250.
Jaworowski,Z.( 1994). Ancient Atmosphere: Validitys of Ice Records, Environ. Sci. & Pollut. Res., 1(1), No. 3, 161-171.
Przybylak,R. (2000). Temporal and Spatial Variation of Surface Air Temperature over the Period of Instrumental Observations in the Arctic. International Journal of Climatology, 20 (1), 587-614.
Vinje, T. (1999). Barents Sea Ice Edge Variation over the Past 400 Years. in Extended Abstracts, Workshop on Sea-Ice Charts of the Arctic (Seattle, Wash. World Meteorological Organization).