The occurrence of increased average temperature in the earth’s surface air and water bodies in the recent decades and its projected continuation constitutes global warming. These increments in temperatures are due to higher amounts of green gas concentrations, which warm the surface and lower atmosphere thereby increasing the green house effects On the other hand, natural phenomena such as volcanoes and solar variation have also impacted on global warming(1).
Increased global temperatures results into other changes such as sea level rise, changes in precipitation patterns that result in floods, droughts and glacier retreat. These adverse effects of global warming have sparked off serious debate especially after Intergovernmental Panel on Climatic change (IPCC) projected climatic models that global surface temperatures are likely to increase to 6.40C (2.0 TO 110F) between 1990 and 2100.(2)The debate focuses on world scale regarding, what, if any, action should be taken to adapt to expected consequences or reduce future warming. There is however a general agreement that affirmative action should be taken to avert further crisis.(3) To this effect, most governments have signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol aimed at reducing the green gas emissions, which cause global warming.
The major challenge to this process is that industrialized nations who are the major contributors of green house gases such as America are reluctant to make this worthy commitment(4). The main aim of Kyoto protocol is to reduce “Anthropogenic Climatic Change”(Human induced changes).It is believed that implementation of the Kyoto protocol will plummet these climatic changes. However, thermal inertia of the earth’s ocean and slow responses of other indirect effects would still cause further warming but at drastically reduced levels that are not very harmful (at 0.90f) as indicated by climatic changes studies.(5) The scientific consensus indicates levels of green house gases due to human activity.
In 1824, Joseph Fourier discovered the green gas effect, and Svante Arrhenius investigated it quantitatively in 1896.Green house effect is the process by which absorption and emission by infrared radiation by atmospheric gases warms a planet’s atmosphere and its surface(6). The green house gases include natural ones such as water vapor, carbondioxide, methane, ozone and nitrous oxide. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon and methane have increased by 31% and 149% above pre-industrial revolution times since 1970.This occurrence has been attributed to fossil fuel burning and other anthropogenic causes such as deforestation.(7)Further, carbon dioxide levels are expected to increase due to ongoing fossil fuel burning processes around the globe. And land use change. This will depend on uncertain economic, technological and natural developments.(8)
IPCC projected increase of methane from melting permafrost peat bogs in Siberia may lead to significant additional sources of green gas emissions.(9) Thus, the effect of global warming including sea level rise, extreme weather events, stream flows, and change in rainfall patterns, increased deaths, displacements and increased economic losses projected due to extreme weather may even be exacerbated by increased population densities.(10) There is also expected reduction of ozone layer, intensity and frequency of hurricanes and worse, spread of diseases such as malaria and other epidemiological related ailments.
A typical example is the current heavy rains experienced in Britain, which scientists have attributed to be, and effect of global warming.(11) The scientists, lead by Peter Stott at Hadley center, have used computer models in finding evidence to predict the course of global warming which all show heavy rainfall as it is documented in the local daily, The Independent. The effects of these rains have been disastrous with many Britons fleeing their homes.(12)
Britain is currently making headlines in the world media; only because of the destructive results its citizens are experiencing from the heavy rains. The new Prime Minister called a crisis meeting with the top leadership of his government in response to this crisis.(13) The rains have left many Britons desperate and in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Droughts attributed to global warming currents witnessed in several parts of the world such as Sub-Saharan Africa has left their citizens in famine and utter penury,(14) malnourished only to depend on aid. Surely the world cannot continue like this, it is only prudent, affirmative action is taken to avert this situation
Just as it is called Global warming, it needs global solution, which calls for nothing other than global input. Participation of the whole globe is necessary without exclusion of any particular state or individual. Efficiency in the use of energy (Use of renewable energy) is a major step to reduce global warming to reduce dependenc4 on oil and other fossil fuels that cause global warming. Currently, over 70% of USA electricity comes from fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and oil in contrast to only 2% from renewable energy sources(15). We should therefore focus on sources such as wind, solar, georthermal and bioenergy to generate our electricity instead of fossil fuel sources that increase global warming emissions.
It is indeed true that these measures need radical step. Fortunately, we have the solutions, and the energy to implement them(16). What we lack is the will. The steps we make will in most cases save consumer’s money. Radical measures include total overhaul of our practices, where instead of Deforestration, we should plant trees in bare lands. Deforestation accounts for 20% of global warming. We should therefore protect threatened forests(17). Most scientists believe postponing these measures would require much more input once severe consequences occur than if we had implemented them today.
Pollution of the atmosphere needs to stop forthwill, it will become an irreversible damage and we had better stopped the practice. Carboon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for about 100 years.(18) Pollution practice would require more duration to reverse its effects on global warming, we better prevent this. Waste damping particularly in water bodies such as rivers needs to be addressed to avoid decomposition and subsequent release of carbon dioxide that would increase the green house effect in the atmosphere.(19)
We must also strive to reduce the production of Chlorofluorocarbons that are powerful green house gases and ozone depleters .(20) For such a radical course, legislation control from the central government in different democracies and even globally is apparent. However, individual citizens must institute in themselves the required environmental standards to make it their own initiative to act on this end. For instance it would be wiser to use a push mower to cut your lawn instead of a power mower(21). Or have a low water-use machine. It is also wise to reduce the water heater thermostat heating degree. Buying energy efficient compact fluorescent bulbs for most used lights in the house is also important.
A solar water heater system instead of electric or other fuel use is wiser move. In addition, an individual should drive a fuel-efficient car or a new hybrid gasoline electric vehicle. Insulating homes, installing energy efficient showerheads and even tuning up of the furnace are some of the basic steps individuals should implement to reduce global warming(22). Wise and committed person (not necessarily an environmentalist) should also contact his or her utility company for a home energy audit check for poor insulations or energy-inefficient places in the home.
Other credible moves to reduce global warming by individuals include wrapping up the heater in an insulating jacket. Workers should also consider leaving their cars at home for some days and then walking to work or alternatively using public means of transport. Recycling of wastes newsprint, cardboard, glass and metals are also better alternatives to using non-renewable that emit green gases after use.(23) People should also consider buying food and other products with less packaging or reusable packaging instead of those in non-recyclable packaging.
I believe most measures outlined above are but mere common sence, very achievable if we introduce discipline amongst ourselves.(24) Drastic reduction of global warming will have much more benefits that would outweigh possible risks involved in its implementation. We as humans must entitle ourselves to tackle the anthropogenic causes of global warming to treat the world we live in(25).
The world’s leading scientific authority on global warming documents that the warming of the last 50 years has been due to anthropogenic (human caused) green house gases. The panel, after monitoring current trend of human approach to the envoiroment, further says the rise could be by 50C this century.(26) This would represent twice the entire warming after the last ice age 12000 years ago and it would take place in 100 years. Shocking!
More confirmation to human destructive trends on the atmosphere were detailed in the recent statement by the American Geophysical Union that there is no known geological precedent for the transfer of Carbon from the Earth crust to the atmospheric carbon dioxide. Inequalities comparable to the burning of fossil fuels, without simultaneous changes in other parts of the carbon cycle and climate system( 27).
We must therefore strive to achieve our aim through all means including institutionalization of global warming reduction programs such as developing systems to clean our electric power plants, currently using coal to produce electricity. This should be converted into plants that burn cleaner natural gas.(27) In addition, harnessing clean, abundant energy of the sun and wind is a viable measure to solving the global warming problem. We have what it takes to make the globe a better place to live in.
The havoc global warming has caused the earth is perhaps the greatest. From its effects such as floods, droughts we have seen, read and understood the implications of destroying our atmosphere.(28) Millions of lives have been lost through its related effects. Implementation of the possible solutions outlined in this essay, provides the framework for improving our livelihood in the globe. For this worthy course, every single individual or nation on the globe must play an active role through involvement in the pragmatic measures aimed at alleviating global warming from the world.This should be done today.
1,2,3 .Revkin, Andrew C, Rise in Gases Unmatched by a history in ancient ice, The New York times, 2005-11-05
4-9Tans, Peter, Trends in Atmospheric carbon dioxide, Mauna Loa.National oceanicand Atmospheric Administration.
10-14Hansen, James; et al (2006-09-26) Global temperature Change
PNAS 103 14288-14293
15-23Purse, Betham V, Philips (Feb 2005) Climate change and the recent emergence of bluetongue in Europe (2) 171-181
24-28Harte, John, et al, Shifts in Plant Dominance Control Carbon Cycle Response To Experimental Warming and widespread drought environmental research letters