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According to Solomon (2008) “global warming has become a question for citizens and not only for scientists (p.1).” “Global warming has implications on our quality of life-it affects our nutrition, and brings about adverse changes in natural phenomena such as increased severity of tropical storms, hurricanes and so on” (Solomon, 2008, p.1).
Tackling it though necessitates us to make hard decisions with regards to our lifestyle for example opting for the more costly but energy saving and less carbon emitting fuels, and even harder decisions for industry players who have to be willing to or be obliged to participate in the added cost of investing in environmental sustainability technologies.
Global warming the biggest threat in 21st century
The main argument behind global warming has been the world’s increasing dependency on fossil fuels which when combusted gives off carbon dioxide as an unwanted by-product into the surrounding air. This is believed to be the primary cause for increased concentration of carbon dioxide (Fuchs, & Sullivan, 2007).
Global warming occurs when these gases become trapped within our atmosphere, where they absorb heat and cause temperatures to rise. Korgen (2006) goes ahead to inform us that because nature has its way of spinning off heat for example through tropical storms and hurricanes, increased global temperatures has led nature to produce stronger and more destructive tropical storms and hurricanes.
Other adverse effects of global warming according to Ramin (2007) “are increased malnutrition, increased range of infectious disease vectors, and increased mortality as a result of stronger natural phenomena such as floods, droughts and heat waves” (p. 1320). The issue of malnutrition arises because of unpredictable weather patterns, prolonged droughts and increased flooding.
These phenomena will be felt in counties that are still developing and will further cause an extra crisis in addition to already existing food shortage. These effects will not only affect the present generations but will also affect the generations to come. Korgen (2006) specifically highlights the rapidly declining fish population as a specific danger on one of man’s key source of nutrients.
According to Ramin (2007) warming also prolongs the reproduction season for some vector insects while shortening the duration it takes for the malaria parasites to mature. Malaria is already the largest killer in Africa and therefore we do not want to imagine the situation as global warming progresses.
Ramin (2007) therefore appeals to all of us to reflect on the potential impending catastrophe due to global warming especially on the world’s more vulnerable populations residing in the least developed nations. This does not imply that the first world countries are protected from the harmful effects of global warming. The developed countries for instance manifested their inability to contain the adversities caused by global warming such as the heat waves that were experienced in Europe.
However, if global warming were such a simple issue then it would not still be stirring debates all over the world. The fact is that emerging economic giants such as India, China and the Asian tiger economies have heavily relied on fossil fuel-based economic growth and they would not be willing to forego the inroads they have made in the past decade because of global warming.
According to Yan and Crookes (2007) “China follows the United States as the second largest energy consumer and it is the third largest energy producer, after the United States and Russia” (p.110).
The commonly used approaches to mitigate global warming around the world are three. The first approach is the use of policies developed by governments or policies made through public private initiatives. The final approach is to come up with practical carbon management strategies.
“Most governments have enacted laws that promote environmental sustainability but at varying degrees, funding for research and development of green technologies has largely been scarce for the developing world” (Fuchs, & Sullivan, 2007, p.113). Our best bet probably is with carbon management strategies.
Carbon management strategies employed must balance community values with profitability. “Businesses exists for the fundamental purpose of making profits, China and the US have problems with ratifying the global climate change protocols because of the anticipated effect it will have on their industries and economy” (Korgen, 2006, p. 112).
In addition to that we need to train a new generation of scientists with near-perfect, doctoral-level understandings, and a willingness to work collaboratively with experts in the different disciplines.
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However, this debate about global warming is not yet settled. The ‘Competitive Enterprise Institute’ (CEI) filed a lawsuit challenging data in the US national climate report that implied that the global warming debate is over. According to Cooney (2004) the CEI accused the national climate report for being alarmist and a product of junk science.
‘The hockey stick graph’ that had been officially sanctioned as the evidence of global warming by the UN ‘Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’ (IPCC) was repudiated by the Wegman Committee as flawed. Unless policies are adopted to cut down emissions of carbon and improve on carbon biosequestration among other implementations like equalizing the health systems of the world, the effects of global warming are likely pose a great threat by living with us and generations to come.
Cooney, C.M. (2004). Lawsuit challenges data in national climate report. Environmental Science & Technology.
Fuchs, M., & Sullivan, C. (2007). Balancing carbon management and renewable fuels production. BioCycle.
Korgen, B. (2006). Global warming, dangerous storms and biomass losses in the oceans. Sea Technology.
Ramin, B. (2007). Climate of change. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 177 (10), 1320.
Solomon, L. (2008). The Deniers. New York: Richard Vigilante Books.
Yan, X., & Crookes, R. J. (2007). Study on energy use in China. Journal of the Energy Institute,80 (2),110-115.