Global Warming is the unequivocal and continuing rise in the earth’s average temperature (IPCC, 2013). It is one of the most important issues that people around the world have been concerned about. According to NASA, the earth’s average temperature has almost doubled in the last 5 decades. There are many factors contributing to Global Warming and they can be classified into two groups namely natural events and human activities. This essay aims to demonstrate the two main causes, the effects and lastly the solutions to climate change.
EAP6- SP 18:00-19:30 Dated 16-06-2014
Climate change is now a vital issue all over the worldbecause this global problem effect on human life in the future. That is why it is becoming an interesting topic among scientists. Climate change is the long-term of weather conditions which relate to changing in temperature, precipitation, winds, and other factors. (Causes of climate change, 2013). Several causes of climate change were defined as natural causes and human activities which are the two main root causes of climate change.
What is Greenhouse Effect?
First of all, to comprehend about the main causes of climate change clearly, it is helpful to understand one element that should explained when talking about climate change “The greenhouse effect”. A greenhouse effect is the natural process of the sun, the atmosphere and the earth that operate together in the same approach as the greenhouse. Sun produces energy to the glass in term of rays of light that the plants, soil, and other substances in the greenhouse are wrapped up this energy from the sun. And the majority of this absorbed energy is transformed to heat that make the greenhouse get warm by catching this heat. What is more, the radiation of the sun warms the earth while the heat is not able to fully escape the atmosphere, it is the reason the Earth keeps getting hotter. According to report of Marc Lallanilla, water vapor and clouds, which are greenhouse gases, produce about 80-90 % of the earth’s natural greenhouse effect, but carbon dioxide, methane, and some of minor gases are also a part of greenhouse gases. Obviously, greenhouse effect is divided into two factors. (Lallanilla, 2013). There is natural greenhouse effect that keeps the earth’s climate warm and habitable. Additionally, there is also man-made greenhouse effect, which comes from extra greenhouse gases by cutting down trees, releasing dangerous chemical substances from factories, vehicles and burning fossil fuels such as gasoline, coal, oil and natural gases into the atmosphere, which seem to be warming the earth more and more. For instance, approximately 30 percent of the radiation striking earth's atmosphere is immediately reflected back out to space by clouds, ice, snow, sand and other reflective surfaces. In contrast, 70 percent of incoming solar radiation from the sun is connected with the oceans, land and atmosphere. As the radiation of the sun heat up, the heat of the oceans, land and atmosphere spread to the Earth’s atmosphere. Additionally, a similar greenhouse effect (phenomenon) happened in a car parked outside during a sunny day. Inside the car is warmed by solar radiation. Thus, the outgoing thermal radiation is blocked and trapped inside the car's closed windows. These two pictures below explain how greenhouse effect works.
The Greenhouse Effect
(Source: Marc Lallanilla, LiveScience Staff Writer | June 25, 2013 09:48pm ET )
Natural Causes of Climate Change
Climate change is a change in global or regional patterns. Human activities and nature are the two main causes of climate change. There are two types of natural factors: internal and external causes.
Internal Natural Causes:
Volcanic eruption is one of the most dangerous natural disasters which can cost thousands of lives in a blink of an eye. Directly, the eruptions of volcanoes increase the temperature in that region. Indirectly, according to Exploring the Environment, “An erupting volcano can eject vast amounts of ashes and gases into the atmosphere” (Exploring the Environment, unknown). Most of the erupted gases are water vapor and there is also a small amount of carbon dioxide which only causes a small impact on global climate. However, the release of Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) goes up to the stratosphere and floats around the planet and combines with abundant water then turns into sulfuric acid (H2SO4) droplets called aerosols. It impacts the climate because after a few years sulfuric acid enters the lower atmosphere absorbs and traps heat especiallytrapping the heat from the sun. For instance, thousands of years ago, the heat from sun splash to the planet and almost one hundred percent is reflected back. Nevertheless, nowadays because the amount of aerosols in the atmosphere is still increasing, a lot of heat could not get out and the planet is getting warmer.
Another internal natural cause is continental drift. Continents have been moving for millions of years already and it is still happening. The movement changes position of water bodies and physical features. For example, when cycles related to long term changes in the earth’s orbit combine to produce colder weather in this hemisphere, summer temperatures are not sufficient to melt the snow from the previous winter. As more snow accumulates, it reflectsto sunlight in huge amount, this causes further cooling and the rapid onset of an ice age.
One other factor where the Earth itself can shift its own climate is when its axis is tilting. This factor is normally called obliquity or Natural tilt. According to MilutinMilankovitch, a 19th century astronomer, the Earth’s axis is currently tilting at a fixed angle of 23.5o. This tilt creates what is called seasons like autumn, spring, summer and winter. In fact, if it was not for the tilting of the Earth’s axis, human and other living organisms on Earth would have only encountered one season in their lifetime. There would be the same season all year in every year. On the other hand,Milankovitch’s studies also showed that around every 100,000 years, the axis tilts back and forth between 22.1o and 24.5o. This event carries on for 40,000 years. When the tilt decreases, Earth will have colder summer and colder winter. While if the tilt increases, it will be the other way around. This phenomenon have been known to have caused ice ages in the past. In spite of the fact that the natural tilt of the Earth’s axis currently does not occur, it is also considered a factor that determines the shift in the Earth climate. (Przyborski).
External Natural Causes:
Aside from all the internal causes, there is one factor which occurs externally which can shift the earth’s climate as well. Without a doubt, sunlight or sun radiation is the major source responsible for sustaining all living organisms on Earth. However, there is an event called the 11-year sunspot cycle. To further understand about the 11-year sunspot cycle, it is helpful to understand what sunspot actually means. Sunspot is basically a patch or hole which shoots out the sun’s magnetic field or solar flares. In those 11 years, the sunspots steadily rise to the point where it is called the solar maximum and decrease back down again to what is called solar minimum. When the sunspots cycle reaches solar maximum, the sun gets brighter due to the brightness of its magnetic fields and solar flares coming out of the sunspots. Therefore, the Earth gets warmer. The temperature will rise 0.2o Celsius. (Riebeek, 2010).
Anonymous (2013). Causes of climate change. Retrieved May 05, 2014 from http://www.climatechange.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=1A0305D5-1
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Milankovitch, M. (n.d.). MilutinMilanko (1879-1958). . Retrieved May 20, 2014, from http://www.earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/Milankovitch/milankovitch_2.php
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Riebeek, H. (2010, January 1). Is Current Warming Natural? Retrieved May 6, 2014, from http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/GlobalWarming/page4.php
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Fourth Draft: Human Causes of Climate Change
Burning of fossil fuels contributes to a high carbon dioxide emission, which cause global warming. There are three types of fossil fuels: coal, petroleum and natural gases.
Coals have been being used as the largest resource of fossil fuels for generating the electricity, heat, and industrial purposes. Due to the high content of carbon dioxide in coal, it emits a high percentage of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, more than other fossil fuel, when it comes into combustion (Biologicaldiversity.org, 2014). By 2012, 41 per cent of global electricity was generated by coal-fired power plants and it accounted for 39 percent of U.S electricity, which was around 83 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States (Worldcoal.org, 2014).
Petroleum, which emits about three-fourths of carbon dioxide from the combustion of coals, is the second largest source of carbon dioxide production (Biologicaldiversity.org, 2014). It plays a vital role as the energy sources for global transportation because billion of cars, trucks and motorcycles burn petroleum to operate, and it simultaneously releases atmospheric carbon dioxide, which increases the Earth’s temperature. In 2009, 32.8 per cent of global energy was generated by burning of petroleum and globally emitted 36.7 per cent of carbon dioxide (C2es.org, 2014).
Natural gases contribute to the emission of greenhouse gas and they release only half amount of carbon dioxide compared to the burning of the coal (Biologicaldiversity.org, 2014). Because of the lower carbon content in natural gases and the higher efficiency, which gas can be generated into electricity, shifting from coal to gas in electricity conversion will reduce the greenhouse gases emissions by 50 per cent (D.Lason, 2013).
Deforestation is a well-known factor that contributes to greenhouse gases, which causes climate change. The causes of deforestation are all from human activities. There are three main reasons such as urbanization, subsistence farming and commercial agriculture (Rita, 2011). Firstly, the modern lifestyle leads to urbanization. As the daily needs always go up continuously, the standard of living is always changing according to the development of society, so people need to move to the place where they can find a job in order to make sure they can have an adequate salary for living. As the result, the cities need land to build more buildings, more accommodations and more amusement parks. Consequently, forests need to be cut down for these facilities.
Secondly, the farmers practice subsistence farming. Farmers have a traditional method of changing land to plant crops, so forests are still cut down. Lastly, commercial agriculture leads to the devastation of forests. When small agricultures turn into a large agribusiness, investors need space to invest and also to farm on it. That is why forests need to be cut down due to the needs. Turning to the effects of deforestation, trees play an important role in absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and releasing oxygen back in reverse. In spite of being harmful to humans, carbon dioxide is really important for photosynthesis as it is used to produce carbohydrates, fats, and proteins and so on to make up the trees. If people keep removing trees from the earth’s crust, the polluted air such as carbon dioxide, the toxin in the atmosphere will be spread everywhere (What are Some Human Activities that Contribute to the Worsening Effect of Global Warming?,n.d). Finally, the thickening amount of air pollution increases the earth’s temperature as it reduces the net long wave of radiation from the sun (Gavin, 2007).
Some other gases, which are produced by human activities, play a vital role in contributing to global warming.
Methane is another major source that contributes to the climate change. It accounts for 20% of the greenhouse gases and its lifetime is about a dozen years in the atmosphere. In spite of the methane’s concentration is lower than carbon dioxide (CO2), it traps the heat 21 times greater than carbon dioxide (CO2), (BBC, 2009). This gas comes from 2 main sources: natural processes and human activities (EPA, 2014). In natural processes, bacteria break down organic bodies, which convert it into methane and are spread out to the atmosphere (BBC, 2009). Furthermore, wetlands also cause the emission of methane too. However, two thirds of the methane emissions are caused by human activities. In industrial sectors, the burning of fossil fuel emits lots of different kinds of gases and one of them is methane. Thus, the presence of methane in the air is unavoidable. In agriculture, most of the animals produce methane through their digestive processes. Last but not least, waste in the landfill also generates methane, which causes global warming (EPA, 2014).
Nitrous oxide (NO) is part of the greenhouse gases, which causes global warming. With the small amount of it presents in the atmosphere, its effect should cause no any significant change in the temperature. However, with this tiny amount (about 0.1% only), its side effect does make changes to the temperature. It is about 200-300 times stronger than CO2 (BBC, 2009). The most common sources of NO are for the use of Nitrogen base fertilizers, burning of fossil fuel and wood, and from the breakdown of nitrogen in the soil (EPA, 2014).
Besides methane and nitrogen, which are also considered to be the main greenhouse gases, others gases such as Hydrofluorocarbons(HFCs), Perfluorocarbons(PFCs), Sulphur-hexafluoride(SF6), Water Vapour(H20) and Ozone(O3), are seen as the sub-factors of global warming that are powerful and last for a long time. These gases are daily emitted by human activities into the atmosphere. HFCs are used in the refrigeration in all aspects that may lead to 20 000 times more potent than CO2 and last for 260 years. This gas is used to replace the CFCs which both caused global warming and ozone layer depletion with their powerfulness and a long lifetime in the past. PFCs and SF6 are applied in semiconductor manufacturers, and they are 10000 and 20000 times correspondingly more powerful than CO2 as they can stay up to 50000 and 3200 years respectively. In addition, Water vapour (H2O), which is emitted daily by human in domestic or industrial activities such as kitchens or food industries, are tiny. It may not be a serious greenhouse gas; however, it may make the greenhouse effect worse while being held by warm air. Lastly, Ozone layers, which defend the lives from the Ultra Violate ray, can also trap the surface heat while it is inflected from the earth surface (Greenpeace International, 2006).
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12. Worldcoal.org,. (2014). coal electricity, coal power plants - World Coal Association. Retrieved 12 May 2014, from http://www.worldcoal.org/coal/uses-of-coal/coal-electricity/
Climate Change: Effects
The increase in the amount of Carbon dioxide does not only cause the rise in temperature but also melted ice. The ice of both North and South poles has been melting which cause the rise in ocean and sea levels (Davis, 2006). According to Davis, the heat has been melting the ice in an extremely rapid rate. In fact, the water temperature has also grown to become warmer (Davis, 2006). Consequently, some parts of world’s continents have been flooded which influences heavily on human and wildlife.Obviously, the warm temperature, resulted from inadequate ice, might harm the lives of polar bears. When the oceans become warmer, the ice is melted rapidly and the polar bears would have to face extinction (Davis, 2006). Furthermore, melted ice and the rise of sea levels also have some impacts on human’s lives. Based on the average rate, sea levels will have risen of 4.2mm per year from 2000 to 2080, IPCC estimated. It is a fact that there are approximately 240 million people around the world who have migrated from their national borders and up to 20 million have been displaced from their homes because of flooding (Werz, 2012).People have less clean water to drink and use for their daily lives. Also, this issue makes the situations in their areas dangerous and they have to leave the places to find other appropriate places to live temporarily.
More than this, high temperature is one of the main effects of climate imbalance. Time after time, human keep producing greenhouse gases which trap more heat in the earth’s atmosphere (Hamburg et al, 2006, 34-41). Studies illustrated that during the last 30 years, the earth’s temperature has risen. According to Environment Protection Agency, one record documented during a decade from 2000 to 2009 indicated that the temperature was the warmest of the period (Guide to Global Climate Change, 2013). Scientists have noticed that higher temperature can cause bad effects on human and nature. The heat waves can be dangerous for people’s health. It causes illnesses such as heat cramps and heat stroke, or even death. For example, in 2003 heat waves in Europe caused about 50,000 deaths, and in 1995 there were more than 600 deaths in Chicago (Guide to Global Climate Change, 2013). Furthermore, while heat waves are likely to happen again and again, it will also increase the temperature of air. In this case, it causes wind velocity to become higher and increases water attitude in high latitudes. The more heat presents in the atmosphere, the more water would evaporate. It is an importantfactor which leads to heavy storms. For instance, some countries thatdo not have any experiences with heavy storms are actually facing the curious problemsof those environmental changes.
In addition, the global warming would also give vastinfluences on both animals and plants. According to researchers, global warming would be mainly about the increasing of the earth’s temperature and Carbon dioxide rate in the earth’s atmosphere. The huge rise of Carbon dioxide and Chlorofluorocarbons in the high atmosphere will accumulate, and create the troposphere ozone which is a major contributor to the greenhouse effect (Hamburg et al, 2006). It has also been stated that some plants in the world would not be able to grow because the world is rapidly getting warmer. The water will evaporate in the high temperature and the soil, which is a keyfeature for crops to grow, will erode at the same time(Wight, 2014). Nowadays, some parts of the world have faced some serious problems which are related to droughts. These are the reasons why some plants cannot adapt to thetransformation of the water and the outside heat. The meteorologists have indicated that the global warming impact was not only on certain types of crops, but it also harms some animals because their lives depend on the natural resources (Davis, 2006). As a consequence, this natural catastrophe would lead to the extinction of animal in the world.
Lastly, climate change can make a big impact on social lives. The rise of temperature can cause many problems on public infrastructure and economy. For example, the greenhouse gases have brought the earth to face the natural disasterlike floods, storms, droughts, tsunamis or hurricanes, which can destroy people’s houses, farms, infrastructures, and some fine buildings (Davis, 2006). Moreover, according to a 2009 report made by the International Organization for Migration produced in cooperation with the United Nations University and the Climate Change, Environment and Migration Alliance, climate migrants will have increased from 200 million to 1 billion by the year 2050. It has been stated that, “environmental drivers of migration are often coupled with economic, social and developmental factors that can accelerate to a certain extent mask impact of climate change” (Werz, 2012). It is also an essential economic issue when the way of living has changed in order to adapt to the new environment, plus the cost of prevention and improvement after the natural disaster is accordingly high to handle.
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1). An Inconvenient Truth. (2006), Film, Davis Guggenheim. Paramount Classics: United States.
2). Author unknown, (2013). Guide to Global Climate Change [Online]. United States, Environmental Protection Agency. Available From: http://www.epa.gov/climatestudents/impacts/signs/oceans.html [Accessed 02 May 2014].
3). Hamburg, S., (2006). ‘Common Questions about Climate Change’ in Slaght, J. (Ed) English for academic study: Reading and Writing Source Book. Issue in Society., Garnet Publishing Ltd: UK.
4). Werz, M., et al, (2009). Climate Change, Migration, and Conflict, Addressing Complex Crisis Scenarios in the 21st Century [Online]. United States, Center for America Progress. Available From: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/security/report/2012/01/03/10857/climate-change-migration-and-conflict/ [Accessed 06 May 2014]
5). Wight, E., (2014). ‘Droughts, flooding, disease: the reality of a Cambodia that has been hit by climate change.’ The Phnom Penh Post [Online], Available from: http://www.phnompenhpost.com/7days/droughts-flooding-disease-reality-cambodia-has-been-hit-climate-change [Accessed 08 May 2014].
Australian Centre for Education
Solutions To Global Warming
Although there are many causes and effects of global warming, there are some solutions.
To begin with, recycling disposable old things is a main solution to improper waste of used materials, which is one of the main causes of global warming. For example, plastic wastes, which cost the most damage of all the wasted materials, consist polyethylene that releases CO2 when it is heated (Project Green bag, Internet) Since plastic bags are reusable, they should be reused in order to cut down the large amount of waste that being produced everyday.
Dealing with the population growth is also a key solution to prevent climate change. Because the population is increasing, the non-stop demands of humans also become a crucial problem. There are 3 key solutions to this complicated issue. One of the solutions is that governments of countries with large population on the world should set a “One child policy” in their countries. This policy will help the world’s population growth increase gradually, but not significantly. For instance, China, which runs one child policy in their country, successfully dropped its population growth from 0.73% to only 0.49% in 2012 (The Statistic Portal, Internet). It is predicted that this decreased amount will help China achieve its 2020 commitment to cut down pollution.
Moreover, environment study should be included in the education system because only education can change people’s behaviors. In addition, providing workshops that focus on the problems of global warming can also help people learn and be aware of these issues.
Almost every human being knows about the greenhouse effects. However, there are only a few people who bother to care about the earth and bring their knowledge into action. There are plenty of actions to express our knowledge and bring them to life. In order to spread the knowledge extensively to the world, we should write down all of the important ideas and make books about what we know and publish them. Furthermore, people should be encouraged to compose songs about climate change problems and insert some messages to let people know that this world is the only place to live and there is no second world (Inconvenient Truth, 2006). People can speak up in their community and create short educating videos about climate problems so the viewers will be able to understand the meaning more easily (Inconvenient Truth, 2006).
Reducing dangerous gases is one helpful solution to climate change. There are some gases that have a lot of bad impacts on the earth such as Carbon Dioxide, Methane (natural gas), Nitrous oxide, Chlorofluorocarbons, Tropospheric Ozone, Stratospheric Ozone, et cetera (Reading & Writing source book, 2009). Unsurprisingly, most of these above gases are caused by human activities. There are several strategies to reduce these green house gases. One possible point is that we humans should try to shorten working hours of each big industry, which causes polluted air every day, since it is impossible to shut down those factories that correspond to human needs. Another idea is to reduce our use of electricitybecause electricity generation produces the large amount of CO2 (Reading and Writing, 2009).
The horrendous effects of gasoline-used transportation towards global warming can be averted by four supporting solutions. Since the past decades, useful techniques have been given to prevent transportation’s impact on the environment. Firstly, people should try to avoid utilize vehicles that require a lot of fossil fuels and turn to use alternative fuels instead (Transportation and Global Warming, N.D). Secondly, the idea of traveling with many people in one vehicle such as using public transportation and sharing car seats with other people can also help save our environment. Furthermore, keeping automobiles on check and up-to-date can also help prevent climate change as well as save money (Transportation and Its Impact on Global Warming, 2009). Finally, riding a bike or walking does not only help prevent global warming, but also provides good exercises and cuts down traffic congestion.
Almost everything everyone uses every day requires the use of chemical substances that cause climate change. However, if everyone could shift away from using the chemical substances and turn to use renewable energies, that would be the resolution to the global warming issues and the earth world be a better place. There are many kinds of renewable sources such as wind, sun, hydropower, biomass energy, hydrogen, geothermal energy and ocean energy. These energies are very beneficial at making the earth healthier, providing heat and light, producing electricity, providing fuels for transportation, powering energy, et cetera (Top Seven Renewable Energy Sources).
Reforestation helps improve the quality of the environment as well as of human life (Lovekar, 2013). As trees help reduce pollution and mitigate global warming, many East Asian countries have successfully managed to reverse deforestation. For instance, China has shown a tremendous change in converting land areas to forest cover in the last decade. As a special initiative for reforestation, China has also declared a “Natural Tree Planting Day” in the country. Moreover, some of developed countries are very proactive, such as Germany, Canada and the United States, which also have taken an initiative and are in the process of increasing their forest areas through reforestation.
To sum up, there are 7 suggested solutions to the climate change issue, namely recycling the usable materials, limiting population, reducing dangerous gases, putting knowledge into action, using public transportation and renewable sources, and reforestation. People all over the world should take the above-suggested solutions into consideration since the world is turning worse from time to time.
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From the above explanation, it can be concluded that the natural events and the human activities are responsible for the rise of sea level, natural disasters and health problems which demand effective solutions such as recycling reusable materials, reducing gases, sharing transportation, using renewable sources and reforestation. So we humans should take the global warming issue into consideration and bring all the solutions above into actions.