Global warming means increase in earth surface air temperatures. The increased air temperature has several effects that degrade the quality of life on earth.
Higher temperatures lead to glacier melts with consequent rise in sea levels. It also leads to changes in the quantity and timing of rainfall, affecting agricultural yields. Other consequences include extreme weather conditions, desertification of large land areas and increases in mosquito-borne diseases.
Global Warming Causes
Earth absorbs most of the heat radiated by the sun and reflects back the remaining part. Greenhouse gases such as water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane and ozone trap the reflected heat. Thus prevented from escaping, the reflected heat adds to the warmth of surface air.
An overwhelming majority of our scientific community agrees that human activities have a significant impact on global warming. Factories emitting smoke, fossil-fuel-burning vehicles and even the burning of firewood lead to increased emission of carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is one of the “greenhouse” gases that trap the heat from the sun.
The warmer air leads to increased water evaporation, and water vapor is another greenhouse gas that traps the heat. Another human activity that leads to global warming is the felling of trees for timber and firewood.
Global Warming Effects
Warmer air temperatures cause glaciers to melt, with the resultant water flowing into the oceans. This leads to rise in sea levels that can submerge populated areas, including whole countries such as the Maldives.
Global warming leads to changes in climate. Climate change reduces agricultural yields and increases the intensity of extreme weather events such as flooding and cyclones.
Tree felling has its own impact. Unless each tree cut down is replaced by planting one or more trees in its place, formerly wooded areas become deserts (or hot concrete jungles). Trees absorb carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Lesser numbers of trees mean higher concentration of carbon dioxide.
Changes in weather, precipitation levels and land use patterns can lead to extinction of species, and increase in the incidence of mosquito-borne and other kinds of diseases.
Global warming effects are thus diverse and highly disruptive to human existence.
Reducing Global Warming
Global warming consequences are thus is too serious to be ignored. Remedial action is complicated by the fact that some individual scientists disagree with the consensus. According to some, the cyclical climate patterns are nothing new. The earth has gone through such cycles and survived several ice ages. (Earth might have survived, but not earth dwellers such as dinosaurs).
Despite the controversy, governments are taking steps to protect the environment. An attempt is being made to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to penalize the emitters. In several countries, the law requires that each felled tree must be replaced by planting two new saplings.
At an individual level, we too can contribute. For example, we can:
* Burn less fossil fuel by going in for fuel-efficient small cars, or even better, using public transport
* Reduce energy consumption by switching off appliances when not needed
* Use energy-efficient light bulbs and heating devices
* Minimize the use of timber-based products such as paper, and fossil-based products such as plastic
* Recycle paper and plastic products
The general consensus is that human activities such as fossil-fuel burning, tree-felling and other practices lead to global warming. Global warming has several disruptive effects as outlined above. In addition to governments, we as individuals can do much to reduce global warming.