Saturday, 3 December 2011

Global Warming: A serious threat to earth and its life forms


In recent years, Global warming has been a hot topic of discussion. It is considered by the scientists as a serious threat to the existence of our Planet Earth and its climate. The changing climate and the increasing instability in its pattern is an evidence of Global warming though most of us have little knowledge and awareness about its causes and grave consequences.

What Is Global Warming?

In general terms, global warming can be described as the increase in the temperature of earth’s atmosphere, and the consequent increase in the temperature of oceans and land masses. This increase in the temperature is due to the concentration and building-up of Green House Gases (commonly known as GHG) in the earth’s atmosphere. Green House Gases include carbon dioxide, methane, water vapour and nitrous oxide. However, these gases are naturally present in the earth’s atmosphere and do important function in the natural process of green house effect by retaining the heat and protecting the earth’s atmosphere. These green house gases actually warm the earth and help it to sustain itself and maintain the surface temperature for the survival of life forms. But the human activities and wrong environmental practices have added a negative contribution to this natural phenomenon of green house effect. As a result of this, these gases have increased in their content and got collected in the atmosphere. And made the atmosphere to re-trap more heat, and causing climate to turn warmer. Thus, certain human activities lead to an alteration in this natural process which basically doesn’t have any ill-effect. We can say global warming is the man-made result.

Causes of Global Warming

1. Pollution emits from human activities like burning of coal, oil and gas, excess use of vehicles, toxic residues from industries and factories producing more developed products, is one of the prime causes of global warming. Since industrial revolution, fossil fuels have been mined and burned to produce coal, gas and oil. Burning fossil fuels release green house gases as the by-product in the atmosphere. Besides, vehicles like car and truck are also contributing to this effect. Coal power plants and cars emit highest amount of coal. It has been estimated that burning fossil fuels has increased the content of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 75%.

2. Deforestation is another factor behind the global warming. Large scales of forests have been destroyed for the sake of industrialization and agriculture without adequate reforestation. This again resulted in the increase of green house effect. Cutting of trees has increased the level of carbon dioxide as trees intake carbon dioxide for the process of photosynthesis. Burning of wood further releases carbon which gets combine with the oxygen in the atmosphere and form carbon dioxide that subsequently causes green house effect. Nevertheless, Climatic changes can also be caused by the change in the circulation of the oceans, changes in the earth’s orbit and also the changes in the intensity of the sun itself.

Effects of Global Warming

It is an undeniable fact that for past few years, weather has been unstable and many natural calamities like hurricanes, earth quakes, floods, are occurring frequently and with severe intensity. Keeping this in mind, we can analyze that global warming can be one of the factors for these catastrophes. Some of the visible effects of global warming are:

1. Climatic changes or weather changes. We can experience the abrupt changes in the climatic conditions. There is a rise in the average temperature of the earth. In last few years, heat waves have been occurring with more frequency and last longer. Stronger storms and hurricanes are also frequently visiting. The behavior of the winds has also being affected.

2. With the rising temperature of the earth, landmasses and sea water level has got affected. Polar ice caps have melted along with glaciers, causing higher and warmer sea levels. Melting glaciers in inappropriate time can cause severe water shortages. Rising sea levels can cause floods and warmer sea surface levels will stimulate more intense hurricanes. It is anticipated that sea levels can increase from 4 inches to a high of about 40 inches by the end of this century, if global warming continues uncontrolled like this.

3. Warmer climate will also lead to the displacement of plants and animals. Those who depend upon lower temperature regions to survive will need to move to higher elevations and latitudes. And those who cannot adapt will extinct.

4. Another phenomenon that is related with global warming is the El Nino, though global warming is not directly causing it but the increase in the temperature can add to its severity and frequent occurrences.

5. Global warming will also affect the nature of the winds and can make a harsher and drier climate. Water from heavier rainfall will evaporate quickly because of warmer climate and will not stay long to irrigate the land.

Measures for reducing global warming:

The growing instability in the weather foretells that this can cause calamity in the near future if we don’t take adequate steps to check it. There are important things to know in this context and to follow some simple steps.

1. To stop the green house emissions from the power plants, hydrogen power is one of the preferred solutions. In some countries, filters are produced to purify the content of the gases released into the air.

2. We can prevent pollution from vehicles like cars by opting for more environment friendly vehicles such as hybrid or electric cars. The proposed idea of using ethanol in place of gasoline in cars is also seems to be a constructive step.

3. We can also follow few simple steps like using a fluorescent light bulb over an incandescent light bulb. This can save energy and will help in reducing a ton of carbon dioxide pollution in the atmosphere. Using other energy efficient appliances can also preserve energy. It will further decrease the misuse and interference of human beings with the earth’s climate and nature.

4. We seldom think about natural resources like water and electricity. We should not waste these valuable resources. One should not let tap water run for hours; should close the lights which are not in use; don’t use the air conditioner or the room heater when the windows are opened. These are small practices which can make significant difference.

5. Cutting of forests and trees must be stopped. For this, papers should not be wasted and should be used in both the sides as far as possible. Recycling of papers is an effective measure to limit the paper and tree waste.

6. Instead of using cars for short distances, we can go by walk which will benefit our health also.

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