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Ali Jepperson Geography 1000 November 6, 2013 Professor Kent Simons

Global Warming

The natural greenhouse effect has been a part of the basis of life on Earth since the early atmosphere formed. Without it, our planet would be a frozen mass. Over the last three decades, the greenhouse effect has received considerable attention from the media and the general public. Data gathered from many different sources had indicated that the climate of Earth is becoming warmer. Global Warming is a very controversial topic in our world today. It has become the warming trend known to the public. (Weart) Many people believe it is causing a lot of damage to our Earth. Others believe it would take a long time before something major happened. Today, we can see many evidences of global warming, such as melting of the ice caps, a hole in the ozone layer, etc. The vast majority of atmospheric scientists accept the conclusions that the global climate is warming and that human activity is very likely the cause of most of the climate change. It is primarily in the arena of politics, economics and public policy that strong disagreement about global warming remains. (Council) The disagreement centers especially on what should be done to address global warming. Before scientists and the public can find solutions to the problem of global warming and what they can do to fix it, they have to know the reasons why the Earth is heating up. Finding evidences and studying about the Earth is essential for finding a resolution. Between 1906 and 2005 global average temperature increased by 0.74 degrees Celsius. Based on instrument data of

temperature since 1850, 11 of the 12 warmest years on record occurred between 1995 and 2006.Average temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere during this time period ate likely to be higher than at any time in at least 1300 years. (Horner) Ice caps and glaciers decreased in both hemispheres, contributing to sea level rise. If the seas and oceans rise, that could cause damage to homes, businesses, farms, livestock, and can be very dangerous to us. Not only do they see that the global temperature is increasing, scientists have found that between 1900 and 2005 statistically significant increases in average precipitation were observed in parts of North America, South America, Central and Northern Asia and Northern Europe, while decreases in average precipitation were observed in Southern Africa, South Asia and around the Mediterranean. They have noticed that since the 1900s, longer and more intense droughts have been observed over wide areas. (Hess) So the question is what is causing all of this to happen to our world? These observed increases in global temperature and the secondary effects of this warming correlate very closely with an increase in greenhouse gas concentrations tied to human activity. Human activities are increasingly altering the Earths climate. Scientists and their evidence strongly indicate that natural influences cannot explain the rapid increase in global temperatures. Human activities are the blame for the increasing temperature of our world. The greenhouse effect has a big part in this. At the beginning, it was stated that the natural greenhouse effect is good for us and helps keep our Earth warm. But because of the increase in the human activity with all of the greenhouse gases, it has become worse and is causing harm more than it is helping. Scientists call this the human-enhanced greenhouse effect. (Horner) Since the industrial era began, human activities have increased the concentrations of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane, tropospheric ozone and chlorofluorocarbons in the

atmosphere. As the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere increase, more terrestrial radiation is retained in the lower atmosphere, thereby raising global temperatures. (Council) Carbon dioxide is thought to be responsible for about 64 percent of the human-enhanced greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide concentrations have been rising steadily since the Industrial Revolution. Carbon dioxide is a principal by-product of combustion of anything containing carbon, such as coal or petroleum. Many other greenhouse gases have been added to the atmosphere by human activity. Methane is produced by grazing livestock and is a by-product of the combustion of wood, natural gas, coal and oil. Nitrous oxide comes from chemical fertilizers and automobile emissions. Chlorofluorocarbons are synthetic chemicals that were widely used as refrigerants and as propellants is spray cans until recently. (May and Zoe) Many of these gases, and many others, are being released into the atmosphere at accelerating rates. There are many consequences that come with global warming. By driving too much, using too much power, and relying too much on fossil fuels, man is causing global warming that will be disastrous to the planet. I found some statistics and consequences from Physical Geography: A Landscape Appreciation that I thought were very interesting. I would like to share a couple just to show how the Earth is affected by global warming. Over the next two decades climate will warm at a rate of about 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade. Sea ice is projects to diminish in the Arctic and Antarctic in all emission scenarios, with summer sea ice disappearing in the Arctic by the end of this century in some scenarios. Precipitation is likely to increase in high latitudes and likely to decrease in the subtropical areas over land. Along with that, it is very likely that heat waves, heavy precipitation events and hot extremes will occur more frequently. (Hess) It is common to know the consequences of the temperature, the ice caps and how the environment will change. But some consequences dont get announced as much. These

consequences affect the plant and animals around us and their environments. As climate changes, some plant and animal species will exhibit shifts in their distributions; wildfire risk will increase in areas of decreased rainfall. Also, with the increased global temperatures, risk of species extinction may increase. Among the most troubling findings, global temperatures are projected to continue increasing and sea level to continue to rise even if the concentrations of greenhouse gases are stabilized immediately. (May and Zoe) All of this information is devastating to hear and the continuation on the global temperature increase can be dangerous. Now that we know the causes and consequences of global warming, we can finally answer the question, what can we do to stop the increase in temperatures and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions? We, as humans, must act now. There are many solutions that have been thought of to try and reduce these emissions. A very popular solution is called The Kyoto Protocol. (Horner) This was one of the first important steps to cut back carbon emissions. In 1997, the participants in the Kyoto Protocol to the United States Framework Convention on Climate Change agreed that all emitters of carbon dioxide would cut greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2012. 185 countries have ratified the agreement, but the United States has not. This agreement was a historical first step. There are many more to follow it. This strategy was announced to all countries to try and reduce the emissions, but there are still many things we can do as a community to do our part. Conserving our resources is one of the simplest strategies we can use to help reduce emissions. Being aware of our own resource use can be a helpful first step toward conservation.(Horner) We can do this by burning less fossil fuel. We can take small steps that can add up. We can drive less, take public transportation, use energy-efficient lighting, improve home insulation and simply turn off the lights. They have put into play two approaches

that help countries cut back on greenhouse emissions. The first approach is called the Cap-andTrade system. This system places declining limits, or a cap, on carbon emissions from industries. Industries that emit less than their carbon allotment can sell their remainder to industries still emitting too much. The second approach is called a carbon tax. This system simply penalizes industries that emit more than an established emissions cap. There are many other systems or ideas that the world is using to help this reduction. I think that the best things we can do as a people, are the simple ideas I mentioned up above. If each of us does our part in the community, I think we can see a definite change. In my opinion, I dont really worry too much about the topic of global warming. Its not something that I focus on in my everyday routine. I hear about the consequences here and there a little. Things are mentioned on the news, the internet and other media, but honestly, I dont really pay attention. This is probably the most I have ever learned about global warming and what it does to our Earth. I knew that it did cause damage to our environment and the way we live, but I have never known this much and in so much detail. There are many things that were stated we can and have been doing to help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions. Some of these ideas and strategies are very extravagant and we let the government and politics deal with those. As a community, as cities, as towns, we can do so much to do our part in helping the emissions go down. It is stated that the humans are the cause of the warming. If they are blaming us, lets prove them wrong and do our part to stop it. We can drive less or carpool to work. There are many advantages to this option. We can get the exercise we need from walking to our destinations rather than driving. I understand that some places are too far to walk and thats when we can use the car, but if its just down the street, walk. When we carpool, we can meet new people and make friends on our way to work. This can also happen if you take public

transportation. When the public provides something for us to use, we should take advantage of it. There are many other things we could do every day to help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions. Turn off your lights, use natural gas, use energy efficient lights and much more. If everyone does their part, we can save our environment, our plant and animals and most importantly, our Earth.

Work Cited

Council, Natural Resources Defense. Global Warming Facts, Causes and Effect of Climate Change: An Introduction To Climate Change. 8 November 2011. http://www.nrdc.org/globalwarming/. 12 November 2013. Hess, Darrel. Physical Geograhpy: A Landscape Appreciation. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2011. Tenth Edition. Horner, Christopher C. The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism. Washinton, DC: Regnery Publishing, n.d. May, Elizabeth and Caron Zoe. Global Warming For Dummies. Wiley Publishing, n.d. Weart, Spencer R. The Discovery Of Global Warming. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, n.d.