What is global Warming?: Global warming is the process of a gradual increase in the earths atmospheric and ground temperatures throughout the entire planet. Studies have shown that global temperature has risen by 1 degree Fahrenheit over the last century. Day-to-day activities by humans since the beginning of the industrial era have resulted in the increased emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere, causing a trend of warming at a distressing pace.
Causes of global warming
Carbon emissions – Carbon dioxide traps the heat of the sun on the globe, much like a veritable balloon filled with warm air. On an average day, humans add to the atmospheric level of carbon dioxide in several ways, from power plants to vehicles. Air pollution from industrial plants is increasing at an alarming level despite steps taken to enforce environmentally friendly practices.
Deforestation – Following carbon emissions by humans, deforestation is the next most important cause of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Millions of acres of tropical rain forests are lost each year causing climate change. Temperate forests which serve to absorb billions of tons of carbon are also being cut down at a tremendous rate.
The dire consequences
Weather patterns – Apart from the wildfires caused by scorching hot and dry weather which burns millions of acres of land worldwide, the main cause for concern is drought, which also increases the risk of wildfires. Drought causes crops to fail, causing starvation and diseases in less developed countries where agriculture is the main source of food and income. Conversely, warm temperatures can also cause heavier rainfall and floods. More energy in the climatic system causes hurricanes and tsunamis. Balance of ecology is disturbed.
Health – Smog in certain parts of the world is causing allergies and asthmatic conditions to worsen. The poor air quality also results in weakened respiratory system. Droughts and other eco disruptions lead to the rapid spread of infectious diseases and food and waterborne illnesses such as malaria, cholera and dengue fever.
Wildlife – With ecosystems unable to adapt to the pace of climatic changes, several species are reaching near extinction. From decreasing numbers of polar bears to the danger of extinction of penguins in the Antarctic, this threat has roots in the vast reductions of their natural habitats.
What measures you can take?
Stop pollution! – Cutting down pollution from car emissions and power plants will decrease the rate of global warming to a great extent. Varied technologies for use of alternative energy have already been developed. And, more technology is being developed regularly. We need to continue to make use of current alternative energy resources like wind power and solar power, and we can adopt new technologies as they are developed.
Changes to the legal system – With public support on the rise, laws must be imposed worldwide to cap emissions of carbon dioxide and other green house gasses from industrial and power plants. Tighter standards for appliances such as air conditioners and heat pumps will also strengthen the efforts to reduce emissions.
Make it YOUR problem. – Energy conservation should be addressed in a right way. Reduce your energy bills by opting for little changes such as fluorescent lights and environmentally friendly refrigerators. Make an effort in every little way you can to sustain the planet for future generations. Let us embrace sustainable development.
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* General Biology
Biology 1B – Lecture 1: Introduction to Ecology