Facts on Global Warming
Facts on global warming suggest that global warming is an issue we seriously need to be concerned about today, because it has a potentially large impact on our survival and existence tomorrow.
Facts on Global Warming: Definitions
While the term “global warming” broadly means the heating up of the Earth’s atmosphere, in today’s context, it is usually used to refer to the heating up of the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans to a point where the delicate balance in nature is disrupted.
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Facts on Global Warming: The Greenhouse Effect
One of the important facts on global warming is that global warming is mainly an outcome of the green house effect.
What is the greenhouse effect? The definition of the greenhouse effect is the warming that results when heat is trapped. This process is similar to how the glass house (known as the greenhouse) works. The glass house traps the sun’s heat energy within and maintains the temperature optimally warm for plants to grow.
On a larger scale, the greenhouse effect that the Earth experiences keeps the planet at an optimally warm temperature for life. This warming effect is the result of green house gasses trapping the sun’s energy within the Earth’s atmosphere.
To keep the Earth’s temperature optimal – sufficiently warm for life but not too hot, an equilibrium exists in nature to moderate the amount of carbon dioxide (a major greenhouse gas) in the atmosphere. This equilibrium is maintained by the carbon cycle. It is when the equilibrium is upset and the balance tilts in the direction of over-warming that global warming occurs. The excessive carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere also leads to other issues like ocean acidification.
Facts on Global Warming: Causes
There are the two main causes of the greenhouse effect and global warming on Earth – natural and man made.
Facts on global warming show that some of the natural contributors of greenhouse gasses into Earth’s atmosphere include volcanic eruptions, changes in solar radiation and swamps. Volcanic eruptions release copious amount of dust and debris as well as huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Changes in solar radiation from the sun caused by sunspots and other changes to the sun’s activity can also create changes in our planet’s temperature. Wetlands and swamps release greenhouse gasses like methane that trap the sun’s heat within our atmosphere.
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In turn, the man made causes of greenhouse effect and global warming include deforestation and the burning of fossil fuel, like coal and natural gas, which releases greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. Fossil fuels are used in factories, industries and the various modes of transportation. The green house gases emitted constitute air pollution. Interesting facts on global warming show that an estimated 1/3 of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere come from the burning fuel in cars, buses and other forms of transportation.
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Facts on Global Warming: Effects
There are many different effects global warming can have on our climate.
Global warming disrupts the temperature in the ocean and causes polar ice caps and glaciers to melt. The glaciers melting can in turn lead to rising sea levels which threaten areas near the coast.
In addition, some plants and animals go extinct because they can’t survive in a warmer environment.
There’s also global warming climate change that have brought us more extreme weather conditions in recent years. We have seen changes in the weather from more intense hurricanes to worse drought conditions. This in turn could lead to famine in many parts of the world and higher food prices in others.
Global warming has also been associated with the increased frequency and impact of El Nino. Read about the causes of El Nino, El Nino effects and the relationship between El Nino and La Nina.
Global warming has also been associated with increased ozone depletion. This means that it is not sufficient to tackle the issue of our thinning ozone layer by stopping the use of CFCs alone. Reduction in our emission of green house gases is also part of the equation.
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Facts on Global Warming: Mankind’s Role
Many scientists believe that anthropogenic global warming is responsible for the unnatural warming of the Earth for the last 150 years.
Indeed, facts on global warming show that many of man’s activities contribute to global warming, especially when carried out carelessly.
When forests and vegetations are cleared to make way for homes, farms and factories, carbon that is usually captured and stored in the trees and plants now remain in the atmosphere, trapping the sun’s heat energy within.
Carbon dioxide can also be released from buildings. Facts on global warming suggest that building maintenance, temperature control (such as through air-conditioning) and cleaning can account for nearly 12% of carbon dioxide emissions.
Not surprisingly, the creation of electricity can have a negative impact on the environment. It is estimated that nearly 40% of carbon dioxide emissions come from the burning of fossil fuels to produce electricity.
Many people believe that the problem of global warming has been building for years and will only get worse as time goes on.
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The Global Warming Controversy
However, the facts on global warming are not without controversy.
The main aspects of the global warming controversy include – (i) whether there really is an increase in the global temperature, (ii) whether man is the main cause of this increase in global temperature, and (iii) the accuracy in predictions on additional warming and the other consequences of global warming.
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Some scientists, who claim that global warming is fake, cite examples that some portions of the planet are cooling rather than warming. Others claim that despite the increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, the temperatures in the lower troposphere have not shown any warming trend for over twenty years.
There are also some scientists that point out factors affecting temperature gathering spots, such as airports – these spots used to be located in fields, but now cities have grown up around them and created a heat island leading to warmer readings.
There are also arguments against global warming that claim that the atmosphere is just too big for man to have a significant effect on.
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On the other hand, there are also equally compelling evidences to show that global warming is actually happening, and Man is the main cause of this warming.
Research shows that the present day increase in global temperatures actually took place over the past hundred years or less – a rate much faster than what the natural climate cycles could have brought about.
Data from NASA show that Greenland has lost 150 to 250 cubic kilometers (36 to 60 cubic miles) of ice per year between 2002 and 2006, while Antarctica lost about 152 cubic kilometers (36 cubic miles) of ice between 2002 and 2005.
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This debate on global warming will likely continue to rage for years to come.
Science is imperfect, and what we cannot prove or disprove does not mean it does not take place.
Are we going to wait for the truth about global warming to be ascertained, before we do something to change our irresponsible ways of life and stop global warming?
Looking at the way we live today – over-consume, dispose without consideration, pollute – it is not hard to see, based on logic alone, that it is not sustainable. Our resources will run out in time to come, our environment would so polluted it is no longer fit for living.
Choosing to act only when we have obtained the evidences for global warming is really deny-today-pay-tomorrow. By then, it could be too late – global warming could become self-sustaining, that no matter what we do, or don’t do then, it would no longer make a difference.
Regardless of how the outcome of the global warming debate turns out – whether global warming is real or not, whether Man is the main cause of global warming or not – it is really only ethical that we, as humans, live responsible and sustainable lives, and do so NOW.
For, we are after all, just another species on Earth. What right do we have to wreak havoc on this planet that is actually shared with many other species, many of which have been here longer than we have?
Peter Warshall (ecologist from the Whole Earth Catalogue) pointed out in the movie The 11th Hour that “one species (i.e. humans) is taking over so much of the resources of the Earth that it’s leaving very little for other creatures to live with it.” Similarly, David Suzuki (Scientist, Environmentalist and Broadcaster) rightly said that “the tragedy of our existence is that we’re an infant species. Not only are we hastening the conditions for our own demise, we’re taking down – according to the United Nations Environment Programme – 50 to 55,000 species a year are going extinct because of us.”
We need to understand that as a species, we have the potential and power to create havoc for many other species, and ourselves, in a very short time. And we also need to understand that with this power comes responsibility. We have the responsibility to ensure that we live in harmony with other living creatures and our only home, Earth.
Even if we don’t do it for other living things, we need to do it today, for ourselves. Planet Earth could very well survive human’s destructive activity, beyond what we ourselves could, and after humans become extinct, happily regenerate other forms of life on it. It would only be our own loss if the human race does not treasure what we have today.
Facts on Global Warming: Stopping It
One of the main strategies to easing the global warming crisis is to get the world to emit less carbon dioxide into the Earth’s atmosphere.
To do so, the international community has discussed in depth and introduced international climate change policy, such as the Kyoto treaty, implemented carbon emission reduction measures such as carbon credits trading, where organizations buy carbon credits, i.e. pay for polluting the atmosphere with carbon dioxide.
To reduce the carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, the scientific community is also exploring carbon sequestering, and seeking ways to address the problems and costs associated with carbon storage.
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However, these efforts alone are not sufficient.
Given the rate at which carbon dioxide is being released into the atmosphere today, there is a need for larger scale efforts. Only when there is interest from all sectors – scientists, governments, individual consumers, corporations, etc can there be more concerted effort to stop global warming.
While you may think that stopping or reversing global warming is too big for just one person, there are many things that each of us can do to contribute.
The first and most important step is to decide to live a green life. This is an important step because intentions direct actions.
And when you have decided to go green, here are some important things you can do
Read more about what does going green mean.
Living a green life helps you reduce your carbon footprint – the carbon dioxide that could be released directly or indirectly as a result of your activities could be reduced. Read more about what is a carbon footprint and how you can calculate your carbon footprint using a carbon footprint calculator.
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