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There is little doubt that our earth is undergoing a gradual increase in temperature: global warming is real. Baffling statistics by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) indicate that the earth’s temperature has risen by roughly 0.6 degrees Celsius, the highest since the mid 1800s, further reports indicate that the duration from 1997-2003 were the hottest years ever recorded.
Worst is yet to come as the United Nations committee on climate has predicted a temperature rise of between 1.8 to 6 Degrees Celsius by the end of the century which enough to melt all ice and polar caps (IPPC, pg. 2). This would spell disaster as many countries, cities and towns will be submerged, including the Netherlands and New York City. The threat is real and unless we act appropriately, almost half of all earth will be under the sea at the turn of the century.
Natural or man-made?
In the past few years, the threat of global warming has appeared real and this has led to debates over who or what was responsible for the condition. The media, politicians and the general population have been divided on this topic.
Skeptics argue that human activities man is not the leading cause of global warming, they assert that climate will change continuously, as it has in the past, human activities not withstanding (Singer, pp. 1). However, to understand the actual cause(s) of global warming, we need to understand how the process occurs.
Global warming is mainly contributed by Greenhouse gases, this consists of water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and Ozone. The highest contributor of these gases to the atmosphere is man. The Industrial Revolution had greatly increased the amounts of CO2, CH4, chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere with levels of CO2 and CH4 increasing by 40% and 150% respectively since the mid 18th century.
These values are the highest during the last 650,000 years, the last time CO2 levels were higher than this was roughly 20 million years ago (IPPC, pg. 1). The high levels of CO2 have been caused by burning fossil fuels and de-forestation, man is the cause of both (Simon et al, pp. 79).
A recent study examined more than seven million studies of temperature, salinity, and other factors that affect the world’s water systems collected by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and compared them with predictions from computer simulations.
The study found out that natural occurrences in the atmosphere, such as volcanic eruptions and the sun’s activities, could not sufficiently account for global warming. Simulations based on human activities, however, exactly corresponded to the observations (Henderson, para. 6). The study eliminated all possible causes of global warming and was left with one culprit: man. The study also simulated past and future consequences of global warming and the findings were nothing to be admired and cannot be merely dismissed.
Global warming could cause disastrous effects in the future, for example, a study undertaken by a team of scientists led by Ruth Curry of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution found out that 20,000 square kilometers of ice in the Arctic melted between 1965 and 1995 (Henderson, para. 10). Continued melting at this rate could destabilize the ocean currents that keep Britain warmer than other European countries.
The evidence that man is responsible for global warming is admissible, therefore, solutions to global warming lies with us. The solution to global warming is quite simple, one does not have to make long journeys or spend large amounts of money, rather, implementation of the strategies that are outlined below will assist in averting this menace (Pearson, para.4).
The first step is energy efficiency. This is a very large topic and covers almost all facets of energy use contributing to global warming. Energy efficiency involves adoption of energy forms that limit global warming, also referred to as alternative or renewable energy. The three main sources of these energy forms are the sun, tidal and wind energy.
Other forms include hydroelectric, geothermal, diesel and biodiesel energy forms. Solar and wind energy present us with a greener and more environmentally friendly energy options, besides being renewable, they can be harnessed from almost anywhere on earth.
Another simple process of keeping global warming in check is to plant trees around the house, school or in any open field. As simple as it may sound, this goes a long way to eliminating the Greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, making the earth cooler. Other outdoor activities such as using bicycles or walking over short distances instead of using a car are very pivotal in reducing the levels of Greenhouse gases.
We should strive to recycle materials around the house, especially non-biodegradable types such as packaging material. Plastic packaging bags can be re-used to reduce the environmental damage related to these materials. The manufacturing process of plastic bags also leads to an increase in CO2 in the atmosphere.
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If everybody follows these rules, we would be helping ourselves and even the future generations by preserving the earth. If all of us take a role in preserving the earth, the cumulative effect would be significant to cause a drop in the level of Greenhouse gases, hence the earth’s temperature.
Henderson, Mark. New proof that man has caused global warming. Times Online. Web.
IPCC. Summary for Policymakers. Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
Pearson. Mastering biology. 2010. Web. <https://www.pearsonmylabandmastering.com/northamerica/masteringbiology/>
Simon, Eric, Reece, Jane, Dickey, L. Jean, and Dickey, Jean. Campbell Essential Biology. San Francisco: Pearson, Benjamin Cummings, 2010.
Singer, Fred. Global Warming: Man-Made or Natural? Imprimis. Vol 36, No. 8, August 2007.