We live in a time in which the very existence of the human race is under constant threat from numerous factors. The truth of the matter is the world we live in is under constant change. While some of the changes may be positive, others may have overtime proved to be problematic. One of these issues is global warming. Global warming is one of the largest problems that the world has to contend with in today’s world. Rarely does a day pass by without the mention of global warming accompanied by a prediction of the grim future that awaits humankind as a courtesy of this phenomenon. Global warming is an issue that has elicited numerous unending debates. Almost all scientists are in agreement that temperatures in the world are on the rise. However, they do not all agree as to what causes the rise in temperature or the rate of change. As such, one the most fundamental questions that arise from the debate about global warming is, how much the temperatures are likely to rise, how soon that is likely to be, what the likely effects are, and what the possible solutions might be. The fact that climate is a deeply complicated issue implies that there is a lot that we are still not aware of global warming. This analysis aims to critically evaluate the issue of global warming with a particular focus on the causes, effects, and likely solutions.
Global warming is by far the most worrying threat to the survival of the planet as of today, leave alone the threats of disease, war, or even famine. Scientists agree that the planet is getting hotter and the marked increase in global temperatures that has been observed in the past couple of years has largely been driven up by human activity, key among them being pollution (Cline, 1992). This implies that man is his biggest enemy and the number one threat to his existence. The news about global warming essentially predicts a bleak future for the world. Global warming is not just a myth conjured up by scientists to scare us, but it is a natural condition that affects the world more and more each day, and it is here with us.
More often than not, many people often complain all through the winter season, and the reasons for their consternation are understandable. What with the shoveling of endless amounts of snow and concern that pipes might freeze? Nonetheless, people are in consensus that varying temperatures are a part of their lives now and they have learned to cope, adapt, and live with them. However, the question that probably most people have never contemplated is whether something that seems so obvious like snow will be here forever. To many people it a no-brainer, none of us has ever critically thought of the possibility of irreversible changes occurring and the world as we know it being no more. However, that possibility is all the more probable given the emergence of global warming as a real threat to humans and the world at large (Root et al., 2003). The global warming phenomenon is a natural condition that is without a doubt a threat to the existence of the world we know.
The question of global warming continues to elicit endless debates with stakeholders holding different views. This in itself is enough proof as to how much global warming has evolved to become such a flashpoint of contention in society. Views from both sides of the debate have heralded a transformation of the subject from a theory based on facts to a mythical issue shrouded in all forms of uncertainty. On one side, there is the “green battalion” who bemoan the destruction that humankind. On the other hand of the debate, there are the individuals who downright refuse to believe the global warming theory in its entirety.
However, it is worth noting that behind both points of view, the arguments put forth are more often than not shrouded in confusion, misunderstanding, and a general lack of knowledge. For more than one hundred years, the theory on the potential anthropogenic causes inherent in global warming has been in existence. In this time, scientists from all over the world have collected evidence on global warming. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that the majority of the general public live in the dark, unaware of the impact their activities continue to have on the planet (Peters et al., 2013). An even larger number of people continue to question whether the global warming theory is indeed fact or fiction.
According to Nordhaus (2013), global warming is the increase in the earth’s temperature, a phenomenon that is caused by the continued discharge of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Carbon (IV) oxide, a greenhouse gas, is the leading cause of global warming. Upon emission into the atmosphere, the greenhouse gasses form a blanket, which subsequently traps heat thereby leading to an unmitigated increase in global temperatures. The first proponent of this theory was a Swedish chemist known as Arrhenius. In 1896, Arrhenius proposed that “doubling the level of carbon (IV) oxide in the atmosphere would lead to a rise in global temperatures by about seven degrees” (Cline, 1992). However, just like people receive the notion of global warming with skepticism, Arrhenius’ proposal was also skeptically taken. In addition to this, another factor that scientists have identified as also contributing to global warming is deforestation, which when coupled with greenhouse emission leads to global warming.
In today’s contemporary society, various players have contributed to the convolution of the global warming discussion. While scientists have always alluded to and even conducted research on the topic, the entry of the media into the discussion has mostly served to add even more confusion to the topic. While scientists track climate change and then publish their findings in scientific journals, the media simply picks up and hypes these findings in their articles, a move that only serves to add to the confusion regarding the topic.
While there are many gasses in the earth’s atmosphere, most of them occur naturally and are harmless. As explained earlier, carbon (IV) oxide emissions usually lead to a significant increase in global temperatures. Most emissions of carbon (IV) oxide originate from the burning of fossil fuels (Nordhaus, 2013). Of late, the number of cars on the roads has increased markedly, and since cars are one of the most notorious sources of CO2 emissions, the amount of gas let out into the atmosphere is staggering. Crutzen et al. (2016) contend that motor vehicles and other vehicles directly contribute to the production of approximately 1.5 billion tons of carbon (IV) oxide every year.
Furthermore, power plants that use coal to produce electricity emit upwards of 2.5 billion tons (Crutzen et al. 2016). It is worth noting that the so-called first world countries, notably the United States of America as well as China are the main culprits when it comes to the emission of greenhouse gasses. While the United States can be lauded for being pro-active in leading the war against greenhouse emissions by taking the necessary steps, some countries are doing the opposite, most notably China and India which lead pollution statistics.
Scientists investigating the global warming phenomenon have identified several effects of global warming. They affect the environment as well as human civilization. The major impacts of global warming include the climate change. This is one of the major effects of global warming whose impact is undeniable as almost everyone in the world can attest to have witnessed the extreme weather changes. Some parts of the world are today experiencing longer and more rampant recurrences of drought. According to Dai (2013), some parts of the world largely covered by deserts have witnessed high temperatures never recorded in history before.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in conjunction with other reputable meteorological institutions have kept records of global temperature. Records from the past several decades point to one worrying trend that shows that annual global temperatures have consistently been on the rise (Crutzen et al., 2013). Another effect and pointer to the unprecedented increase in global temperatures as a result of global warming is the continued rise in sea levels. Furthermore, the number of floods occurring in different parts of the world have also increased markedly. In the Northern Hemisphere, glaciers continue to melt under the increased global temperatures. As a result, more and more icebergs continue to drift into the ocean thus posing a grave danger to both cruise and cargo ships traversing the waters of the northern hemisphere. Peters (2013) notes that there have been recollections of icebergs drifting far to the south of Greenland, a testament to the magnitude of global warming.
Another notable effect of global warming is a change in water balance. Even though it is only natural that we expect to experience changes, it is worth noting that future fluctuations in water balance are likely to have major impacts in some parts of the world. Changes in sea level continue to attract most of the publicity, but the availability of water in the aftermath of global warming is likely to be just as serious. In addition to this, the problem of water shortage is likely to be even more expensive to solve. Cline (1992) contends that in the future, the parts of the world that are warmer will have to contend with the problem of water shortage while in other parts of the world that are wetter will be significantly wetter than they are at the moment. It has also become significantly difficult to make correct forecasts concerning future precipitation because global warming makes it hard to predict such things. Furthermore, the effect of this phenomenon on the ecosystem as well as the cycle of agricultural changes is also significantly difficult to predict.
Human health also stands to suffer as a result of global warming. For instance, in the year 2003, heat waves in Europe resulted in the demise of around twenty thousand people and more than a thousand more in the Indian sub-continent (Root et al., 2003). Heatwaves have also been discovered to be a direct result of global warming and as evidenced above, are just as dire as the projected long-term effects of global warming. Changing climate has also led to newer cases of spread of some major tropical diseases.
However, despite the doom and gloom of the possible effects of global warming, there are solutions that can be implemented to counter this phenomenon. First and foremost would be reducing dependence on fossil fuels and turning to renewable energy. For instance, instead of using cars on gasoline, hybrid cars have been touted as the cars of the future (Dai, 2013). The use of wind turbines to produce electricity can reduce and even eliminate the burning of coal, the biggest contributor of carbon (IV) oxide.
In conclusion, to defeat global warming, concerted efforts have to be made between governments, individuals, and institutions. However, it would be important first to acknowledge that global warming is a problem and it is real. Humankind has been at the forefront in perpetrating destruction against the planet, and it would only be fitting that we are at the forefront in the battle against global warming.
Cline, W. R. (1992). Economics of global warming. The Peterson Institute Press: All Books.
Crutzen, P. J., Mosier, A. R., Smith, K. A., & Winiwarter, W. (2016). N2O release from agro-biofuel production negates global warming reduction by replacing fossil fuels. In Paul J. Crutzen: A Pioneer on Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate Change in the Anthropocene (pp. 227-238). Springer International Publishing.
Dai, A. (2013). Increasing drought under global warming in observations and models. Nature Climate Change, 3(1), 52-58.
Nordhaus, W. D. (2014). A question of balance: Weighing the options on global warming policies. Yale University Press.
Peters, G. P., Andrew, R. M., Boden, T., Canadell, J. G., Ciais, P., Le Quéré, C., & Wilson, C. (2013). The challenge to keep global warming below 2 C. Nature Climate Change, 3(1), 4-6.
Root, T. L., Price, J. T., Hall, K. R., Schneider, S. H., Rosenzweig, C., & Pounds, J. A. (2003). Fingerprints of global warming on wild animals and plants. Nature, 421(6918), 57-60.