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Global warming is a term used to refer to an increase in atmospheric and oceanic temperature due to increased release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. According to research conducted over the years, “the Earth’s mean surface temperature has increased by about 0.8 degrees Celsius, with about two-thirds of the increase occurring since 1980” (Maslin 7-8).
Scientists attribute the increase in atmospheric temperature to human activities such as burning of fossil fuel that release carbon dioxide gas, as well as, methane into the atmosphere. High amount of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere inhibit the release of reflected solar energy into the space, thereby increasing greenhouse effect. Global warming is a contentious issue that has attracted several divergent views.
Some of the debated issues include “the causes of global warming and whether the increase in the earth’s atmospheric temperature is normal or exceptional” (Maslin 7). However, scientific research indicates that the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere has increased due to the emission of greenhouse gases. This paper will argue that global warming is a reality.
Global warming has been on the rise since the take-off of industrial revolution in the 19th century that led to increased use of fossil fuel in industries (Kowalski 45-46). Combustion of fossil fuels has led to the release of high amounts of carbon dioxide, as well as, methane into the atmosphere.
Consequently, the greenhouse gases have accelerated the rate of greenhouse effect, thereby increasing the Earth’s atmospheric temperature. Findings of empirical studies indicate that “the concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane have increased by 36% and 148% respectively since 1750” (Silverstein, Silverstein and Nunn 23).
Increased greenhouse effect is also attributed to how the world population uses land. For instance, deforestation has led to increase in greenhouse effect. Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide have a long life span in the atmosphere. Thus, they are capable of trapping a lot of heat overtime, which is usually released back onto the earth’s surface (Kowalski 9).
In the 20th century, much of the global warming has occurred because of gross product per capita and increase in population growth rate, which accounts for most of the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.
Industrial activities have also increased the amount of soot in the atmosphere. “The effect that soot has on the atmosphere is relative based on whether it is deposited or airborne” (Archer 101). Airborne soot usually has less effect on the temperature of the earth’s surface. However, deposition of huge amount of soot in the atmosphere may result into the increase in earth’s surface temperature.
For example, in rural areas of India, most of the soot produced is engulfed by the atmospheric brown clouds, thereby warming the earth’s surface (Archer 89). Research findings also show that the energy output from the sun has not increased significantly over the years. Therefore, there is no correlation between the increased temperature of the Earth’s surface and the solar output in the last decades.
On the contrary, volcanic activities, as well as solar radiation, have slightly cooled the earth’s climate (Silverstein, Silverstein and Nunn 109). Additionally, climate models also indicate lack of rapid warming when solar radiation and volcanic activities are considered. However, the climate models depict rapid warming when all factors such as human activities are considered.
Similarly, changes in temperature in the various levels of the atmosphere also indicate that heat from the sun has no effect on the current climate change. For instance, “models of climate show that greenhouse warming causes warming of the troposphere but cooling occurs in the stratosphere” (Archer 65).
Through research, scientists have detected occurrence of global warming due to greenhouse gases in a number of areas. For instance, scientists have detected global warming in a number of natural systems such as increase in sea level, decrease in snow and ice, extreme climatic changes, and glacier retreat (Maslin 29-31). Future projections show that the level of seawater is likely to rise due to increased snow and ice retreat.
Similarly, extreme weather conditions are likely to occur regularly if the trend in greenhouse effect continues in the future years. Changes in terrestrial ecosystems also have a link to global warming. For example, “earlier timing of spring events, pole ward, and upward shifts in plant and animal ranges in terrestrial ecosystems” (Silverstein, Silverstein and Nunn 67).
Projections about future changes show that a number of ecosystems will be affected due to high concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, as well as, high temperature. Consequently, the extinction of various ecosystems will likely cause climatic changes.
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Changes in climatic conditions may also cause large-scale abruption of the natural and social systems due to the concentration of carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere (Archer 124). For instance, climatic changes have resulted into adverse weather conditions that have greatly affected human population. Some of the adverse effects have been observed on small islands and high latitude regions.
Adverse climatic changes have also “affected the health status of humanity through malnutrition, flooding at coastal regions, and reduction of clean water supplies” (Maslin 39-41). Increase in population has led to clearing of more land, which has facilitated climatic change. Consequently, most nations are likely to suffer from food insecurity.
For instance, “by 2030 maize production in South Africa could decrease by up to 30%, while rice, millet, and maize in South Asia could decrease by up to 10%” (Kowalski 48). Therefore, global warming remains a threat to humanity.
Failure to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will automatically cause adverse climatic changes because a gas like carbon dioxide has a longer life span of up to centuries in the atmosphere. Hence, increase in greenhouse effect is inevitable.
Despite the scientific research reports released over the past years about global warming, a number of people are still skeptical about the whole issue.
Critics of the released research reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), argue that the computer climate models used by the IPCC are faulty, thereby leading to exaggerated findings about the effect of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (Silverstein, Silverstein and Nunn 89-91).
For example, some critics argue that “present models have large errors and are unable to calculate correctly either the present average temperature of the earth or the temperature ranges from the equator to the poles” (Kowalski 67-69). Additionally, skeptics of global warming argue that the increase in the earth’s atmospheric temperature is resulting from natural climate fluctuation and not a consequence of increased human activities.
A number of them believe that the Earth’s climate has always fluctuated naturally over the decades. Hence, the current climatic changes cannot be linked to human activities that have led to the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. For instance, skeptics believe that the Earth cooled in the last half of the 20th century (1940-1975) when the industrialization took place (Silverstein, Silverstein and Nunn 118-119).
Therefore, opponents of global warming believe that increased use of fossil fuel by human beings has no link to the current increase in the rate of greenhouse effect.
In the United States of America, the cause of global warming is a contentious issue, especially, in the political arena. Climate scientists have reported claims of threats from the oil industry. In particular, the oil industry has threatened to censor scientific findings on global warming.
There are also reports about attempts of the oil industry, as well as, the fossil fuel lobby groups to undermine research on the effect of greenhouse gases on climate (Silverstein, Silverstein and Nunn 76-78). Additionally, the public domain remains divided concerning global warming.
For instance, in some parts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East a number of people are still unconvinced about the role of human activities in the increased warming of the earth. Similarly, in America a number of people still doubt whether there is significant climatic change. However, according to recently conducted surveys, the American population has shown concern over the ultimate consequences of global warming.
However, a majority still attributes the cause of global warming to natural factors and not human activities such as combustion of fossil fuel (Archer 151). On the contrary, other parts of the world have shown concession about the role of human activities in the current climatic changes.
A number of actions should be taken in order to mitigate the rate of global warming. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, mitigation refers to “activities that reduce greenhouse gas emissions or activities that enhance the capacity of carbon sinks to absorb greenhouse gases from the atmosphere” (Maslin 65-67).
Some of the recommended activities that can help to reduce the rate of global warming include reforestation and use of renewable energy sources. Additionally, nations should adopt policies, which will reduce the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere.
In order to realize this goal, governments should collaborate with private sectors, as well as, other nations through Intergovernmental Organizations (Maslin 97). On the other hand, people can also seek ways of adapting to the current climatic changes in order to curb the consequences of climatic change.
Based on the models that climate scientists have used, as well as, observable climatic changes, it is evident that there is increased greenhouse effect on the earth’s surface. Much of the current rate of global warming has resulted from human activity. For instance, this has led to the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Additionally, deforestation has accelerated the rate of greenhouse effect.
However, some people still dispute this fact and link the climatic changes to natural factors such as climate fluctuation. Despite the criticism about the cause of global warming and its ultimate consequences, there is substantial evidence about the negative effect of increased emission of greenhouse gases on climate. Therefore, nations should adopt policies and measures that will facilitate future mitigation of global warming.
Archer, David. Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast. Chicago: John Wiley and Sons, 2011. Print.
Kowalski, Kathiann. Global Warming: Open for Debate. Beijing: Marshall Cavendish, 2004. Print.
Maslin, Mark. Global Warming: Causes, Effects, and the Future. London: MBI Publishing Company, 2007. Print.
Silverstein, Alvin, Virginia B Silverstein and Laura Silverstein Nunn. Global Warming. Minneapolis: Twenty-First Century Books, 2009. Print.