“As per NASA, “the global average surface temperature rose 0.6 to 0.9 degrees Celsius (1.1 to 1.6° F) between 1906 and 2005, and the rate of temperature increase has nearly doubled in the last 50 years. Temperatures are certain to go up further.”, “According to the IPCC 2007 report, sea levels will rise by 7-23 inches by the end of this century due to global warming.”
According to the multinational Arctic Climate Impact Assessment report compiled between 2000 and 2004, the average temperature in Alaska, Western Canada, and Russia have risen at twice the global average.”, “The Arctic ice is melting rapidly.
By 2040 the region is expected to have a completely ice-free summer or even earlier.” 2016 was the hottest year on record, according to separate analyses by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
It was also the third year in a row to set a new record for global average surface temperatures.” Global warming is a threat to the Earth, and in recent years it has grown too much as a problem and needs to be fixed at the earliest. We must understand what is causing warming at an alarming rate.
What is Global Warming?
Global warming is the remarkable increase in Earth’s atmospheric temperature due to human activities in a very short time. To be precise and accurate with the definition, every one-degree rise in temperature in the period of one hundred to two hundred years is called global warming—the average air temperature near the surface of the Earth increases.
A special report published by the IPCC in 2018 gave an edge to the estimate further. Human beings and human activities have been responsible for a worldwide average temperature increase of between 0.8 and 1.2 °C (1.4 and 2.2 °F) of global warming since the time industries were not established, and most of the warming observed over the second half of the 20th century could be attributed to human activities.
It predicted that the global mean surface temperature would increase between 3 and 4 °C (5.4 and 7.2 °F) by 2100 relative to the 1986–2005 average should carbon emissions continue at their current rate.
The estimated rise in temperature was based on a range of possible scenarios that accounted for future greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation (severity reduction) measures and uncertainties in the model projections. Some of the main uncertainties include the accurate role of feedback processes and the impacts of industrial pollutants known as aerosols, which may counteract some warming.
The over the release of greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide has led to Earth’s Warming. However, we need to understand that it is true that these gases are important for the existence of life on Earth. Still, their release in excess can be bad for the environment in the form of global warming.
How does global warming work?
Some light from the sun which approaches Earth is reflected by the atmosphere of the Earth or the surface of the Earth, but most of it is absorbed by the surface and is warmed after this Infrared (IR) radiation is emitted from the surface.
Some IR radiation escape to space, but some are absorbed by the atmosphere’s greenhouse gases (especially water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane) and reradiated in all directions, some to space and come back towards the surface further warms the surface and the lower atmosphere.
This repeated process causes Earth to warm even more every year, and a one degree Celsius rise is seen every hundred to two hundred years.
What are the gases involved in Global Warming?
The burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil releases water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, ozone, and nitrous oxide, the prime greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide is the most common greenhouse gas.
Between about 800,000 years ago and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide’s presence in the atmosphere was estimated to be about 280 parts per million (ppm, meaning there were about 208 molecules of carbon dioxide in the air per every million air molecules). As of 2018, the average carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 407.4 ppm, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information.
Apart from these gases, fluorinated gases also cause global warming. These gases are also called F-gases and include hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).
“In 2014, the top carbon dioxide (CO2) emitters were China, the United States, the European Union, India, the Russian Federation, and Japan. These data include CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion, as well as cement manufacturing and gas flaring. Together, these sources represent a large proportion of total global CO2 emissions.”
A list of some other gases which have contributed to the increase of global warming is as follows:
- Sulfur Hexafluoride.
The most common reason for Global Warming is carbon dioxide emission by the burning of fossil fuels. “Human activities release around 37 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.”, “Since the industrial revolution in 1700, the level of carbon dioxide on earth has increased by 34%.” Fossil fuels are the most dangerous contributors to global warming.
Deforestation has made the situation even worse. Plants and trees play an important role in absorbing the excess carbon dioxide and maintaining the climate and the environment, keeping it fresh and healthy. Clearing trees is not a wise choice. It is depleting the Oxygen too.
Livestock like sheep and cattle graze and emit methane, a greenhouse gas too, and overgrazing can result in larger amounts of methane in the atmosphere. The burning of coal for the production of electricity releases greenhouse gases. The industries use certain harmful chemicals, and they work like greenhouse gases.
Overfishing has resulted in the loss of species and has caused global warming. Oil drilling is responsible for producing both methane and carbon dioxide. It contributes to climate change and is toxic to the environment and the wildlife it surrounds. Pollutants from power plants are responsible for maximum carbon emissions alone.
The harmful gases from the accumulated waste in the landfills, which starts decomposing, are poisonous to wildlife and contribute to global warming. The other causes include volcanic eruptions and forest fires that emit a considerable amount of greenhouse gases and contribute to climate change and global warming.
Effects of Global Warming
The most notable effect of Global Warming can be seen on the ice caps. Due to global warming, the ice caps are melting, and the sea level increases.
“The ice sheets have been retreating since the end of the last ice age, about 11,700 years ago, but the last century’s warming has hastened their demise. A 2016 study found that there is a 99% chance that global warming has caused the recent retreat of glaciers; in fact, the research showed, these rivers of ice retreated 10 to 15 times the distance they would have if the climate had stayed stable.
Glacier National Park in Montana had 150 glaciers in the late 1800s. Today, it has 26. The loss of glaciers can cause the loss of human life when icy dams holding back glacier lakes destabilize and burst or when avalanches caused by unstable ice bury villages.”
“According to NASA, the 13 smallest values for maximum winter extent of sea ice in the Arctic were all measured in the last 13 years. The ice also forms later in the season and melts more readily in spring. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the January sea ice extent has declined 3.15% per decade over the past 40 years. Some scientists think the Arctic Ocean will see ice-free summers within 20 or 30 years.”
Due to global warming, already dry areas or deserted areas are becoming drier, and many places have experienced droughts.
“The study predicted an 85% chance of droughts lasting at least 35 years in the region by 2100. The main driver, the researchers found, is the increased evaporation of water from hotter and hotter soil. Much of the precipitation that does fall in these arid regions will be lost.”
Earth is facing extremes in weather, and hurricanes and typhoons can be more intense as the planet warms. Moisture is getting evaporated. Oceans act as natural carbon sinks, that’s good for the atmosphere, but it is not a good thing for the marine ecosystem.
Oceans can absorb dissolved carbon dioxide and create a balance. Still, this dissolved carbon dioxide reacts with seawater, and the pH of water declines, which means it becomes acidic, and the process is called ocean acidification.
This increased acidity can eat away calcium carbonate shells and other skeletons on which many marine organisms may be dependent for survival. Due to global warming, coral bleaching has also been seen. Global warming boosts air pollution levels too.
“A 2015 study reveals that vertebrate species are going extinct at a rate that is 114 times higher than it actually should be. The situations could become worse if the situations are not controlled at the earliest.” Global warming is causing colder areas to become hotter, thereby becoming more vulnerable to diseases.
What can be done to control global warming?
The first thing we need to do is stop the use of fossil fuels and start using renewable energies like solar energy, wind energy, etc. We can stop using personal vehicles unnecessarily and start using public transport most of the time. Carpooling can be helpful in this.
We can control the infrastructure and construction activities. Instead of deforestation, choose aforestation. Discourage deforestation and plant more and more trees! Throw the garbage in the dustbin and recycle as much as you can.
Use energy-efficient appliances and reduce water wastage. Don’t waste food. LED bulbs use 80% much less energy than the other bulbs, so they prefer using them. Along with energy-efficient appliances, we can use fuel-efficient vehicles too. Pull the plugs out after use.
We can recycle old clothes and take our shopping bags with us to the market and avoid the use of plastics too. Don’t use lights during the daytime. Use clean fuel and save energy. Instead of using dryers to dry your clothes hang them on the clothesline in the Sunshine. Start composting and save water. Create awareness. Don’t waste food and don’t drink bottled water.