Greenhouse gasses accumulate in the earth’s surface, forming a mirror that reflects heat radiation on the earth’s surface. In cases where the air is polluted by green house emissions, then these greenhouse gasses block the reflected sunlight radiations from reflecting back to the atmosphere, leaving them just at the earth’s surface.
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This increases the temperature on the earth’s surface. This is not only harmful to human beings, but to all living organisms including plants and animals.
When these gasses are released in large amounts, they result into global warming. This is the increase in the temperatures of the earth’s air surface and the subsequent increase in the water levels. It results from numerous human activities that emit gasses that prevent the radiation of sunlight back to the atmosphere.
Generally, when sunlight reaches the earth’s surface, an amount of it is reflected back to the atmosphere at a higher wavelength; when this happens, the earth’s temperatures are regulated.
This paper looks at the causes of increased emissions of greenhouse gasses and their effects. It also looks at some of the solutions that can be adopted to remedy this situation, which include use of renewable energy sources, nuclear energy, conservation farming, and regulatory measures.
Causes and Effects
Green house gasses cause the heating and cooling of the earth. Global warming occurs when these gasses exceeds a certain limit. Some of these gasses are released to the atmosphere through natural process although most of them result from increased human activities; some of these activities are agriculture, deforestation, and industrialization.
As forests are converted into farmland and cities, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere mainly because all living things contain a given amount of carbon dioxide and when they die, carbon dioxide accumulates in the atmosphere.
If forests and grasslands are cleared, large amounts of carbon dioxide stored in them are released into the atmosphere, increasing the volume of the greenhouse gasses (Union of Concerned Scientists 2).
For a long time now, oceans have been known to store a lot of carbon dioxide. They act as a carbon sink and can hold back more than 50 times of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. However, thermal stratification of the oceans has resulted in a reduction of the ocean’s ability to hold carbon dioxide.
Ocean’s can now hold very little levels of carbon dioxide leaving the rest in the atmosphere, which consequently results in global warming (U.S. Department of Energy 4).
On the other hand, the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causes oceans to acidify, leading to the death of the plants found in the ocean thereby weakening the ocean’s ability to store carbon.
Globalization and technological advancement has contributed immensely towards the increase in the number of industries in the world. In the process of production, fuel is required to run some machines; however, this fuel is a major source of pollution to the environment.
Fossil fuels, for example, emit gasses (when burnt) that are harmful to human beings and the environment at large. The commonly used nonrenewable energy resource is fossil fuels, which comprise come in different forms such as coal, natural gas, and petroleum. These fuels have been used for along period since industrial revolution.
They are easy to use because they just need an easy combustion. Although they are easy to use, this combustion results in air pollution that greatly affects the environment. The consumption of fossil fuels by the energy infrastructure is one of the greatest sources of greenhouse gasses, which are responsible for recent global warming and climate change concern (U.S. Department of Energy 2).
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These activities Releases three types of gases that make up the greenhouse gases
- Carbon dioxide
- Nitrous Oxide (Anon. “Cause and effect for global warming” 3)
The following chart shows the annual emission of greenhouse gases by sector
Source: “Cause and effect for global warming.” Time for change, 2007. Web.
From the above chart, it is clear that power stations releases the highest percentage of greenhouse gases (21.3%) especially methane and carbon dioxide. Agriculture byproducts release 40% and 62% of methane and nitrous oxide respectively.
This graph shows the carbon dioxide emissions in tons over the last 200 years (1800-2000).
Source: “Cause and effect for global warming.” Time for change, 2007. Web.
From the above graph, it is clear that the total amount of carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere has been on the increase since 1800. Petroleum seems to be emitting a lot of carbon than all the other fossil fuels. This is because most people rely on petroleum energy sources since it is believed to be cheaper and easy to use. Cement production releases the lowest level of carbon followed by natural gas.
Renewable Energy Sources
Kyoto protocol that was ratified in Japan, on 11 December 1997 and was aimed at being fully implemented by 16 February 2005 recommends for adoption of clean technology. The main aim of the protocol was to ensure that emission of green house gases (carbon gases) was reduced by 5% (below their level in 1990) by the end of 2010 (U.S. Department of Energy 3).
The clean energy blueprint investigated on ways of promoting diversity in production of energy and its conservation, and looked into the cost effective methods. It recommended the use of alternative methods of generating energy and emphasized on the use of renewable sources such as wind and geothermal.
The use of renewable energy is both cost effective and friendly to the environment. For instance, running water is used to create electricity in the hydroelectric systems. Another type of renewal energy that can be used for sustainable environment is the solar power. This energy is got directly from the sun by use of solar panels.
In addition, wind energy has been used throughout history; it has been used to power boats, to drive windmills, and many other uses (Union of Concerned Scientists 3). Differences in temperature and atmospheric pressure cause movements in the air, which is known as the wind. This movement is then transformed into energy by use of a generator.
Another source of power is Geothermal power, which is generated when the radioactive elements heats the earth’s crust (Cubby 50). This heat is then carried by water or magma to the earth’s surface and it becomes detectable in the form of hot springs as geysers. This heat can be used to power turbines leading to the generation of electricity. Biomass is one of the well-established sources of energy and among the oldest in the world. Stored plants energy is converted to produce biomass energy that can be used for lighting and heating
In devising a reaction strategy, the Australian government has put emphasis on so-called ‘no regrets’ measures; those that offer industry net benefits as well as addressing the greenhouse gas outcome, or at least those that have no net cost in the long run.
It gives the impression that a comparable no-regrets strategy will as well be necessary to persuade farmers to espouse new practices, and the linking of emission lessening through preservation tillage with enhancement of soil quality will be indispensable (National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Committee 72).
The objectives of tillage require the use of manifold cultivations, the frequencies of this cultivation being dictated by the existing climatic conditions and understanding of the farmers.
Even though the traditional tillage practices in many countries were at first imported from European agriculture, they have advanced into an assortment of locally modified practices. In the modern times, there is escalating understanding that the soil is not only a significant constituent of our production system, but that it plays a vital role in the preservation of local, regional, and international environment quality.
At the farm level, conservation farming has become more and more conventional and it is anticipated that some form of this structure is accomplished on more than fifty percent of land across all states (Commonwealth of Australia 57).
Use of nuclear energy reduces emission of carbon to the environment. Nuclear fusion reaction produces heat, which in turn heats water that produces electricity. In countries that use nuclear power, their waste from fuel (that they use) is minimal; it is estimated to be 1%. This means that nuclear energy produces far less industrial waste than fossil energy. Emissions produced from a nuclear energy can be tapped and used for other factors (National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Committee 74).
Uranium and plutonium, that are major components of a nuclear energy plant, can be tapped up to 95% and used to make mixed oxide oil. As demand for fuel in industries is growing, national oil reserves and oil wells are draining; they are highly depleted, and since they take a long period to mature, relying on them for generation of electricity can be seen as a short-term measure. Moreover, nuclear energy can be manufactured in laboratories so that if well regulated, it can be the future energy source.
Emerging technologies are being developed to reduce or eliminate these greenhouse emissions. Anticipated carbon dioxide emissions gradually augmented from 1988 to 1995 and it is probable that it may increase further by the end of this year. To control the amount of carbon dioxide released from industries, most governments have put strict regulatory measures, such as, the use of the cap-and-trade.
This is a market-based method for controlling carbon dioxide emissions by use of tradeoffs and incentives. In this method, an aggregate cap is sought in all the energy sources, which are then allowed to trade among themselves as a way of establishing the source that emit a lot of pollution to the environment (Fischer 101).
Under a rate-based baseline-and-credit plan, firms are prescribed a performance standard spelling out the target industry emission rate (Dewees 513). An emission rate represents the emission technology level of a firm and is the amount of pollution that is emitted per unit of output.
A carbon tax would be an efficient control method because it will discourage companies from releasing gasses into the atmosphere. However, in order to achieve the desired results, the tax should increase as the level of gasses released increase for it to reduce carbon dioxide emissions (National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Committee 72).
The most effective way to reduce the level of carbon emissions is the use of renewable energy sources. By use of these sources, the greenhouses gasses caused by combustion of fuel will reduce since most of the renewable sources are clean and inexhaustible. These renewable sources cannot be exploited as compared to the non-renewable ones because they are replenished naturally.
Most of these sources are harvested in their natural form and thus requires very little operation costs. Solar energy is the simplest to manage since solar panels can be fixed on existing buildings and it does not interfere with other land activities
As greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere, global warming occurs. The consumption of fossil fuels by the energy infrastructure is one of the greatest sources of greenhouse gases, which are responsible for recent global warming and climate change concerns. The Government’s goal is to play an active part in global efforts to stabilize atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations to avoid reaching dangerous levels, and to adapt to the climate change that is now inevitable.
The global demand to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is receiving great concern presently. The most effective way to address this problem is to utilize the renewable energy resources, which are clean, and release minimal amount of gases. Utilization of nuclear power can also counter the problem of global warming.
Anon. “Cause and effect for global warming.” Time for change, 2007. Web.
Commonwealth of Australia. National Greenhouse Response Strategy. Canberra: Australian Government publishing service, 1992.
Cubby, Ben. “Renewable May Cost Less Than Coal Power.” Fairfax Media, 2009. Web.
Dewees, David. “Emissions trading: ERCs or allowances?” Land Economics 77(4), 513-526.
Fischer, Carl. “Combining Rate-Based and Cap-Based-And-Trade Emissions Policies.” Climate Policy, 3S2, 89-109.
National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Committee. National Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1995 with Methodology Supplement Environment Australia. Canberra: National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Committee, 1997. U.S. Department of Energy. “Energy Sources.” Washington, DC. Web.
Union of Concerned Scientists (USC). “Clean Energy Blueprint: A Smarter National Energy Policy for Today and the Future.” Union of Concerned Scientist, 2010. Web.