The temperature of the air and the sea at the Earth’s surface had been fluctuating until the 1970s and since then, it has been increasing noticeably. This significant increase in temperature is leading to many disastrous events on the Earth. It is internationally recognized as global warming. Global warming is caused by the greenhouse effect, which is a result of natural causes and human activities. As it becomes a worldwide crisis, people have started to come up with effective solutions in order to overcome this potential catastrophe. It is important to study the causes, effects, and solutions of climate change. This essay is going to provide information related to the causes of global warming, following by its effects and then the solutions.
Causes of Global Warming
According to scientific researches, which were conducted from every part of the world, the major cause of global warming is the greenhouse effect. To clearly understand the factors that contribute to global warming, the definition of greenhouse effect should be explained. When sunrays enter the Earth’s atmosphere, some of the rays are absorbed. The rest is reflected back into space. Naturally, greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), fluorocarbons, and ozone form a condensed layer around Earth. These gases prevent heat from reflecting back. As a result, Earth becomes warmer. As greenhouse gases increase noticeably, the process is likely to trap more heat than it used to (The Greenhouse Effect, 2013, Internet). The process detailed above is called the greenhouse effect. There are two major causes to the greenhouse effect, which also lead to global warming. Those are natural factors and human factors (Amber, 2007, Internet).
Natural causes of global warming are divided into external causes and internal causes. Factors that naturally make changes in atmospheric composition are defined as external causes. It includes the luminosity of the sun, sunspots, volcanic eruptions, and the variability orbit of the Earth around the sun. For instance, the total amount of sunlight reaching the Earth rises up by 25% at mid-altitude as a consequence of variation occurs when the Earth orbits around the sun. Another noticeable natural contributor to global warming is volcanic eruptions. Whenever a volcano erupts, it releases large amount of material, particularly methane, into the upper atmosphere which leads to the increase of greenhouse gases concentration (The Causes of Global Warming, 2010, Internet).
The internal cause is a strange interaction between the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. It actually comes from variations in ocean currents and the oceans themselves. Naturally, oceans contain a lot of carbon dioxide due to the ecosystems they support, especially in the top layer which has more pollution than the Earth’s atmosphere. Moreover, as the amount of carbon dioxide in the oceans increases, it also changes the ocean currents and emits more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. As a result, the Earth’s temperature rises (Natural Causes of Global Warming, 2014, Internet).
Apart from natural causes, the sole human causes of global warming are the usage of greenhouse gases. First, carbon dioxide (CO2) is the world’s most emitted greenhouse gas and its major source is from burning fossil fuel.Fossil fuel has been used since the 18th century, when the Industrial Revolution began (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Group, 2010, Internet). People use fossil fuel because it can generate power for their needs in daily life,
especially for transportation. As the world’s population grows, the needs of vehicles are also increasing which means more gasoline is being used and more CO2 is being releasedinto the Earth’s atmosphere. For example, vehicles in the U.S cause thirty percent of the U.S global greenhouse gas emission each year, and one third of that is carbon dioxide (Car Emission and Global Warming, 2014, Internet). Furthermore, natural gas also poses a threat to the ozone layer. People use it to cook food and heat their houses. As a consequence, it produces water vapor and carbon dioxide, which contributes to global warming (Natural Gas,2010,Internet).
In addition, coal is one of the oldest and dirtiest ways to provide energy. Most of the governments around the world allow coal-fired power plants, where man made CO2 emissions mostly comes from, and if those power engines are built more, carbon dioxide emissions are predicted to rise by 60 percent in 2030 (Greenpeace, 2009, Internet). Additionally, people use coal to generate electricity for their living. For example, over 50% of U.S electricity derives from coal because it is cheap and easy to find in the Earth’s crust (Jeff Goodell, 2006, Internet).
Moreover, cement manufacturing also increases CO2. Cement is one of the most important objects in our life. People use it to build shelters, workplaces, and other constructions. The population is rising, so the demand for cement will also rise as people need it to build accommodation and other infrastructure. According to the New York Times, “Making cement means making pollution”, because five percent of carbon dioxide comes from the cement plants (Rosenthal, 2007, Internet).
Besides fossil fuel, deforestation also increases the amount of CO2. For years, trees have been cut by people to build accommodation, plant crops, and raise livestock. However, the removal of trees is becoming more and more severe, especially in developing countries. People mostly cut down trees for the expansion of agriculture, industries, and infrastructure which are all for economic development. For example, infrastructure improvement, which is the necessity to build roads, bridges, dams, canals to assist in importing and exporting goods, has caused a decent amount of deforestation. Furthermore, commercial activities in industrial scale likewise play quite a big role in clearing trees. Soybean production in the Amazon, for instance, has damaged the forest and the fertile land for future crops to grow. Another similar case is palm tree plantations in Indonesia. It helps to produce bio-fuels, but it is also causing devastatingeffects by cutting down forests that located in provinces namely Borneo and Sumatra. Add to this, another factor that is still occurring is poverty, mainly in unindustrialized countries, as it drives people to migrate to restricted areas for prestige quality timber (What are the Major Causes of Deforestation?, 2010, Internet). As a result, since more trees are being cut down, this means carbon dioxide will be less absorbed, and of course, this leads to global warming (Deforestation and Its effects, 2012, Internet).
Apart from CO2, methane is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted throughout the world. It is not only produced by nature, but also human accomplishments from agriculture, particular industry, landfills, and the accidental release during drilling for natural gas. Globally, the agriculture sector is the main source of methane emission. The largest amount of it is produced during the regular digestive process of domestic livestock such as cattle, sheep, goats, and camels. Moreover, methane is also produced when animal dung is stored in tanks. Thus, as population grows, there is a significant increase in food supplement which leads to the rise of methane emissions. In addition to knowing how agriculture contributes to global warming, methane is also discovered greatly in industry sector. The largest sources of methane emission are natural gas and petroleum system. It is released into the atmosphere during the process of production, modification, transportation, and storage of petroleum (Methane Emissions, 2013, Internet). As a consequence, over 60% of overall methane emission is coming from human activities. For instance, recently, about two thirds of global methane emissions come from artificial sources to fulfill human requirements such as meat for food and the burning of fossil fuel for factories and transportation (Climate Change, 2009, Internet). Nevertheless, a number of natural sources such as volcanoes, wildfires, sediment, termites, oceans, and wetlands also release methane. For example, in the absence of oxygen, bacteria in wetlands decompose organic materials that emit enormous amounts of methane in the air (Methane Emissions, 2013, Internet). Indeed, as methane is more efficient at trapping heat to over 50 times more than carbon dioxide, the current global warming trend could still promptly take off (Mark, 2012, Internet).
Another dangerous greenhouse gas, which is also the main factor in the change of the world’s climate, is nitrous oxide. Particularly, the use of organic fertilizers, burning fossil fuel, and the production of nitric acid and soil cultivation practices can produce a powerful greenhouse gas called nitrous oxide (NASA, internet). Nitrous oxide is mostly formed by human activities such as agriculture and industrial processes. Nitrous oxide is the potent greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide and methane because it traps heat and causes global warming. Climatologists assumed that the major cause of the increase in nitrous oxide is the use of nitrogen-fertilizer in agriculture that quickly stimulates the microbes in the soil to convert nitrogen to nitrous oxide and then released into the atmosphere (Sander, 2012, Internet). The storage of livestock manure for the use in agriculture also produces nitrous oxide emissions. When those livestock manure is not used as fertilizer or not used in the fields during grazing, it has to be kept in storage for other treatment or thrown into the animal waste management systems. Theselivestock’s wasted starts to produce nitrous oxide, which then continues to produce bacteria (What’s Your Impact, Internet). As for the industries that generate nitric acid during production of nitrogen-fertilizer and acidic acid when making nylon, also contribute to the global climate change in releasing nitrous oxide into the atmosphere (EPA, Internet).
Fluorocarbon is one of the chemical substances that contains a mixture of fluorite and carbon. Fluorocarbons have no natural source, smell nor color. There are 3 main types of fluorocarbon gases, which are hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulfur hexa fluorocarbons (SF6). These gases are harmless to human through direct contacts, that is why they are used primarily in human daily lives, whether in the developed, the developing, and the under-developed countries. Hydrofluorocarbons are used as flame retardants, aerosol propellants, solvents, and refrigerants.They are also applied in air conditioning systems in both vehicles and buildings.Perfluorocarbons are often used as a by-product in various industrial processes in the fabrication of semiconductors.The electrical transmission equipment also uses hydro fluorocarbons particularly circuit breakers. They are considered to be the most potent among other greenhouse gases. These chemicals were produced as a substitute for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) because they do not deplete the stratospheric ozone layer due to the international agreement (Emission of F-gases, 2014, Internet).Since the 20th century, great quantities of fluorocarbons have been vented out into the stratosphere causing a collision between chlorine, which comes from fluorocarbon, and the ozone layer, that turns the ozone (O3) into oxygen (O2).This means, it allows UV rays to pass through the ozone layer easier (Stop Fluorocarbon, 2014, Internet).
The ozone layer is mainly divided into two layers which are in the stratosphere and the troposphere.Ozone in the troposphere, which is in the lower region of the atmosphere, plays a huge role in heating the Earth. Troposphere is created by both nature and human activities, but mostly results from human actions. It is formed by ozone precursors such as smoke from vehicles, emissions from industries, biomass, and the burning of fossil fuel. Case in point, since the demand of fossil fuel is dramatically high and ongoing, it means more fossil fuel are being burned. As a result, it thickens the ozone layer and blocks the infrared radiation from going back to the atmosphere, undoubtedly leading to global warming (Reay, 2014, internet)
In conclusion, to sum up of what have been written above, the activities of human beings have a stronger influence in global warming than natural causes. These activities have given human not only a convenient lifestyle, but also numerous of dangerous consequences. Thus, people should find various ways to reduce the increasing temperature on Earth and also to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that are being released into the atmosphere each year.
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Class: SP-EAP 6 Word Count: 940
Time: 11:30am -1:00pm
Topic: What role has human activity played in causing climate change?
Global warming, which is also called climate change or greenhouse effect, refers to the uncontrollable increase of the world’s average temperatures. Global warming is caused by many factors, and it also causes many effects as well. This essay will illustrate how global warming can cause catastrophes to both humankind and nature. Therefore, the whole essay will be divided into three parts. There are the effects of global warming on the environment,people, and wildlife.
If global warming reaches a crisis point, the environment will be the one that receives the most harmful damage. Global warming threatens the environment because it can cause a series of problem to the environment. First, due to the greenhouse effect, there will be a dramatic rise in the world’s temperatures. After that, the ice in the pole areas will melt because the temperature is too high. As a result, the sea level will rise up about 20 feet (Gore, "An inconvenient truth", 2006). The rising of the sea level might be a key that activates the chain of disasters, such as hurricane, tsunami, floods, so on. What will happen after the disasters is predictable. The excessive amount of water will erase the existence of London, Hong Kong, Shanghai, New York, Japan, and many other countries with low altitudes (Gore, "An inconvenient truth", 2006).
Moreover, drought also results from Global Warming. Some areas of the world, such as southern Africa, southern Asia, the Mediterranean, and the U.S. Southwest, will suffer in a very long and hot burning summer because of the trapped solar heat. During the period, there will be no more rain, and the rivers will be dry. Even more serious is, the continual droughts can cause wild fires, which produce more and more carbon dioxide that leads to more global warming which causes more droughts. So, it is becoming a vicious cycle. Not until the climate change stops can people escape from the nightmare.
Not only does global warming affect the environment, it also affects people, especially their health. As the temperature continues to rise, heat waves will occur often in many places which causes an immense risk to humans’ health. According to the study conducted by Professor Matthew Huber of Purdue University and Professor Steven Sherwood of the University of New South Wales, extreme heat waves have lethal effects on health which may lead to death or cause other heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke (UCS, 2010, Internet).
Furthermore, global warming contributes tomany other diseases, most of which are caused by mosquitoes. Because of the changes in temperature, more places become suitable for mosquitoes to breed. Consequently, mosquitoes, dangerous disease vectors, increase their amount and this leads to expanding infections of West Nile virus, St. Louis encephalitis, eastern equine encephalitis, LaCrosse encephalitis, and dengue fever to humans which can be dangerous for their lives (UCS, 2010, Internet). On October 26, 2010, the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) reported 832 people in the United States were infected by the West Nile virus, and overall, 1,196 people have died from the disease since 1999 (UCS, 2010, Internet).
Other diseases that climate change spreads across the globe include Malaria and Cholera. In 1991, Cholera, a waterborne disease, got into South America and killed more than 10, 000 people (Struck, 2006, Internet). If more odd diseases continue to scatter, more lives will be taken especially for people who live in a poor condition or low-level health care. The World Health Organization (WHO) concluded more than 150,000 lives each year were lost because of the illnesses caused by climate change (Struck, 2006, Internet).
As extreme weather continues, shortage of water and food production will grow. Extreme rainfalls affect the supply of fresh water and its quality because sewage in the sewer system might flow into fresh water supplies during rainfalls. The rising sea level might also cause saltwater to gush into the groundwater making it unavailable to use again even for irrigation supplies (UCS, 2011, Internet). In addition, due to high temperature, more crops will be destroyed as insects and plant pests survive longer in the heat and reproduce more quickly. Yields are reduced and the global food supply is at risk (UCS, 2011, Internet). The populations are in danger of starvation.
Last but not least, global warming has strong and negative impacts on wildlife. Wildlife refers to non-domesticated animals, plants or other organisms. Wildlife can be located almost everywhere especially in the forests, deserts, and other places (Wildlife, Wikipedia). Wild animals need to live in healthy habitats which usually contain clean water, right temperature, enough food for the species in those areas, and places to raise next generations. However, they will be highly damaged by global warming, and animals cannot survive (Effects on Wildlife, Internet). Neither humans nor animals can adapt to quick temperature changes. For instance, penguins and polar bears used to living only in frozen areas. They will surely die if the ice melts. Some arctic animals have to swim longer than usual to find cold ice to stay on because one of the effects has turned the ice into water while animals in hot areas are starving. Scientists have found that global warming will have effects on almost every kind of wildlife but the most effected ones arepolar bears, penguins, reindeers, and toads(Earth T., Internet).
To sum up, global warming has caused many effects to almost everything all over the world including weather, ocean, ice, people, and animals. In order to prevent the global warming from causing chaos, everybody will have to change their extravagant lifestyle, join forces, and form solutions to solve the problems regarding global warming.
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· Gore, A. (Director). (2006). An inconvenient truth : Paramount.
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Solution for Global Warming
Global warming is an international issue that can be considered as a big challenge for organizations, governments, companies and people around the world to face. In the past, natural events, such as volcanic eruptions or complex variations in ocean currents caused climate changes. However, recently, human activities including deforestation, burning fossil fuel, and overpopulation affect the amount of many greenhouse gases which have an impact on the climate. The consequences are the extinction of many species, unpredictable weather and new diseases. Therefore, solutions are needed, even though these might affect the world’s economy and development. This essay is going to describe some solutions connected to the development of renewable energy, and less polluting transportation. There are also some personal solutions that can be used at home and business in order to deal with global warming.
To answer to the main causes of global warming, which are the burning of fossil fuel and the use of natural gases, renewable energy resources are crucial. Investing money into the high-tech renewable technology is a good way to reduce the dependence on fossil fuel-fired power and carbon dioxide emissions. Firstly, renewable energy comes from the hydroelectric power which “is currently the world’s largest renewable source of electricity accounting for 6 percent of worldwide energy supply or about 15% of the world electricity" and the first choice to gain the power rather than burning oil, coal for energy. It can generate electricity for larger requirements and it is not involved with global warming. In addition, its price is acceptable. For example, 60 percent of electricity comes from the hydroelectric power in Canada. Canada is a major electric contributor to New York, California, New England, the Upper Midwest, the Pacific Northwest (Stuart.B, Internet)
Wind power is considered as another renewable energy. The wind moves the turbine, which changes mechanical energy to electrical energy. The wind turbines use no water, and no fossil fuel, but it can create electricity for people’s demand. For example, Texas is the first state which produced electricity from wind power and provides 3 percent of the state’s electricity. This power prevents carbon dioxide emission for about 8.6 million metric tons every year (Environment America Research and Policy Centre, 2008).
The most recent renewable energy is solar power. The function of this is to capture the radiation of the sun to create electricity and it is considered environmentally friendly. There are 2 types of it. The first one is Solar Photovoltaic (PV), which can produce electricity when the sunlight hit the semiconductor material; it creates electric charges and transfers it through a circuit to make electricity. The requirements for electricity are high, so it is a good idea to use solar PV because PV technology can reduce the expense. It is available to use at home, in the industries, and it is better than burning the coal, or oil. For instance, solar photovoltaic can prevent carbon dioxide pollution for nearly 15,000 metric tons in 2007 in New Jersey. The second type is solar thermal power, which is the combination solar thermal power plant with the stored thermal energy that is able to provide electricity even at the night time. It can be used in a large scale. It is really successful in the American South-West states which have more than 400 MW of solar thermal power plant capacity to generate power (Environment America Research and Policy Centre, 2008).
Another main cause of pollution is traffic, especially in urban areas. In many cities in the world, the local authorities strive to find solutions in order to reduce the traffic jams as well as the discharge of CO2. They develop public transportation and also individual transportation, which is different from cars.
In the past, rivers were the important ways of travelling. Today we have re-discovered that boats are very useful. They can carry many people quickly from the suburb to the city. Generally, one or several rivers and canals pass through a town. That is the case which happens in Bangkok, well known for traffic congestion. This year, Bangkok Metropolitan administration has launched a new boat service on a canal created during the reign of Rama IV (1851-1868). Boats are equipped with GPS. The line will be connected to the MRT and the BTS sky train. Thus, commuters of Bangkok have more transportation choices so they do not need to use their cars so much and CO2 emissions from cars are being cut down. (Wancharoen, 2014)
Subways and sky trains are likely to be the most convenient public transportation in urban areas. That is why many modern cities should have them so the investment is very important. Currently, there are a lot of new metro projects; for example, projects in the Arab countries and in the European countries. One of the most ambitious projects is taking place in Paris, obviously in the suburb. In fact, it is easy to move from suburb to the city of Paris by train or by bus, and it is more difficult to move from one place to another place in the suburb. Therefore, people need their cars, and the traffic increases as well as the air pollution. The French Government and metropolitan authorities of Paris have decided to create a new subway line around Paris. It is a part of the “sustainable development strategy for the region”. The future line will be 200 km with 72 stations. 2 million passengers a day are expected.
Although the rise of public transportation shows a positive perspective, we still need other transport choices. Cars have changed the people’s way of life. In spite of negative effects, such as pollution, traffic congestion, and noise, cars are the most important inventions of the last century. Perhaps it is time to move to electric cars or hybrid cars. Carmakers, drivers and governments are increasingly aware of the environmental stakes. Recently, a Guardian’s article indicates that the number of electric cars has multiplied by a factor of 4 since 2011 (Vidal, 2014). Today there are 400 000 electric vehicles worldwide, including 194 000 in the US and 74 000 in Japan. Even though this market has risen, we should not be too optimistic: this type of vehicles will represent only 2-3% of the market in 2020. In addition, electric cars are not completely neutral in term of CO2 discharge, because in any case we need to produce energy.
One way of moving without causing pollution is riding bicycle. Some cities encourage the use of bicycle because it is silent, not expensive and good for health. In Asia, Taipei is a perfect example. Its bicycle rental system, Youbike, is a big success. It is almost free. There are 50 000 people use it each day. (Youbikeridership nears 20 millions, 2014.)
Apart from the solutions that were mentioned above, personal solutions are also important as it is a part of human activities, which has also contributed to global warming. These solutions include what we can do at homes, for our lifestyles and business. In order to cut down global warming, we need to use a recycle, reuse, and reduce routine that can help to reduce waste and save environment from CO2. In addition, we also need to plant trees beside our houses as you know trees can absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. At home, some of us may have a more than 5 years old air conditioner or regular light bulbs. These are also affecting our environment, so we need to change our light bulbs to the LED light bulb, change our air conditioners every 5 years and also buy energy efficient products, which mean we use less energy and electricity (Larry West, Internet). Furthermore, businessmen and businesswomen should invest in helpful research about clean energy and green building that can encourage people to save the environment (Natural Resources Defense Council, Internet). We need to educate people in our communities about this issue and solution as well, so we can fight against this altogether.
To sum up, there are many possible ways to solve this issue, but in order to succeed, everyone needs to take in action together without wasting our time to be able to stop this from causing more problems. Each of us plays an important role in saving the world from global warming and be responsible for our actions that cause this worldwide issue.
Stuart.B, MEng, MBA (unknown year): HYDRO-ELECTRIC POWER Available from: http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~kagan/phy367/P367_articles/HydroElectric/hydroelectric.html
Environment America Research and Policy Centre (2008): Global Warming Solutions that Work Available from:http://www.environmentamerica.org/sites/environment/files/reports/Global-Warming-Solutions-that-Work.pdf
[Author unknown.] (2014). ‘Youbike ridership nears 20 million: Taipei City.’ Taipei Times, 2 May. Available from: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2014/05/02/2003589396 [Accessed 5 May 2014]
[Author unknown.] (2013). ‘Grand Paris Express contracts awarded’. Railway Gazette, 13 September. Available from:http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/urban/single-view/view/grand-paris-express-contracts-awarded.html [Accessed 5 may 2014]
Vidal, J. (2014). ‘Electric car sales speed up as UK plugs into global trend.’ The Guardian, 3 May. Available from:
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Wancharoen, S. (2014). ‘New canal boat service gets under way’. Bangkok Post, 26 April. Available from: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/406699/new-canal-boat-service-gets-under-way [Accessed 5 May 2014]
Larry West (Unknown). ‘Top 10 Things You Can Do to Reduce Global Warming’. About.com. Available from:
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Natural Resources Defense Council (unknown). ‘Global Warming Solution’. NRUC organization. Available from: http://www.nrdc.org/globalwarming/solutions/step4.asp [Accessed 6 May 2014]
In conclusion, global warming is a complex issue that should be taken seriously. Although both natural causes and human activities contribute to global warming, human activities have a stronger impact. When one understands the causes of global warming, one will be able to assess the current environmental situation and possibly find new solutions for this concern.