The world’s future is jeopardized by a problem that has become all too popular in today’s mass media: global warming. For the last century, the concentration of carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases” has created a “blanket” that traps solar radiation that bounces off the earth’s surfaces, absorbing heat and steadily increasing global temperature. “Over the last 50 years, the average global temperature has risen at the highest rate ever observed, with 15 of the 16 hottest years ever recorded by NASA occurring since 2000.” (MacMillan). Global warming is now at work, as shown by the increased number of extreme weather conditions since the early 2000s. The extreme weather events referred to include longer heat waves, more powerful hurricanes, heavier rainfall, and an increased frequency of droughts such as what was experienced in California in 2015. The consequences of global warming are bound to increase as the levels of carbon dioxide emissions increase. The effects of global warming will eventually end life on earth in the long term, turning Earth into another Mars- like wasteland.
The effects of global warming in the present day have already led to the loss of the lives of thousands of individuals and the loss of property worth millions of dollars. The has not been a slowdown in the average global temperatures as intimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report (Karl et al. 1469). The end of all life on earth will be a drastic effect of global warming based on the following premises: an increase of the surface temperature of the earth past a critical point of 100ᵒ C/ 212ᵒ F; the depletion of oxygen in the atmosphere on a global scale; and the intersection between heat, humidity, and people. This would effectively end all forms of life on earth. It would be just another planet that shows signs that life might have existed at some moment in time. All oceans will be all dried up, and the earth will be just rocks and dust.
One way through which global warming will effectively get rid of all life forms on earth is through the increase of mean surface temperature beyond a critical point of 100ᵒ C thus making the earth inhabitable by all life forms (Siegel). The relationship between the Earth and the Sun is such that, during the day the Earth absorbs solar radiation which it radiates back at night. This normal relationship should yield an average surface temperature of – 18o C/ 0o F. However, this is modified by factors such as carbon dioxide, clouds, and water vapor to a much higher average of about 33o C/ 59o F. This was necessary in the formative years of the planet since higher temperatures could support life. However, a lot has changed since then, including the very nature of the sun. The sun releases more energy now than it did it earlier on in the formation of the solar system. This trend is likely to heighten in the future. This is further compounded by the release of greenhouse gases from Earth due to human activities such as burning fossil fuels. The tipping point will be when the mean surface temperature of the Earth passes the critical point of 100o C/ 212o F. The environment will be too hot for any of us to survive. Temperatures even half the critical point are usually unbearable and lead to the loss of life during heat waves. Imagine if surface temperatures of Earth were equal to the boiling point of water!! No form of life would survive these temperatures and as such life would cease to exist.
The second means by which global warming can eventually lead to the destruction of life on earth is by the depletion of oxygen levels on Earth. About 70 percent of oxygen found in the atmosphere traces its origin to the seas and oceans due to the activity of phytoplanktons which produce oxygen as a by- product of photosynthesis. Water temperature, which is influenced by global warming, is a major determinant when it comes to the rate of oxygen production by the phytoplanktons. “An increase in water temperature of the world’s oceans of around 6o C could stop oxygen production by phytoplanktons by disrupting the process of photosynthesis; the result of this is the depletion of atmospheric oxygen on a global scale which would likely result in the mass mortality of animals and humans” (Sekerci and Petrovskii 2326). Depletion of oxygen would be catastrophic for all living things that depend on aerobic respiration.
The intersection between heat, humidity, and human beings provides another explanation for the demise of life on planet Earth. The normal temperature of the human skin is 35o C. “When the wet- bulb temperature of the air exceeds that level, it becomes physically impossible for the body to shed its own metabolic heat and cool itself, especially by evaporating sweat” (Katz). In such conditions, even the fittest individual would die within 6 hours. Even temperatures slightly below the 35o C are hazardous for vulnerable populations such as the ill, the elderly and children. Even working outdoors at such temperatures puts a strain on the body. With increasing global warming the threshold would regularly be attained within the calendar year. In the recent past, thousands have died in India due to heat waves. If this were to happen on a larger scale, the physical capabilities of man would be severely tested, and soon enough people would start dying due to extreme heat. The end result would be the complete eradication of life on earth.
Some may say that global warming is not a real thing and it is not happening as we are forced to believe by mainstream media. There are quite a number of arguments against climate change and its potential to wipe mankind off the face of the Earth. There have been published reports over the past year that have maintained that surface temperatures of Earth are on the decline and as such the catastrophic consequences of global warming are just a hoax. One would also argue that the lack of scientific consensus with regard to global warming challenges the argument set forward. There are thousands of scientists who believe that global warming is not happening. The final objection would be the accuracy of climate models used to determine the fate of the Earth with regard to global warming. This could be attributed to the use of various assumptions by scientists as they estimate the impact of different factors.
The legitimacy of global warming cannot be put into doubt. The bulk of literature review over more than two centuries provides evidence as to the gradual warming of surface temperatures on earth using a variety of methods. Despite dissenting opinions, advances in technology over the past decade have indeed proved that global warming did not stop in 1997 as numerously cited by opponents. Karl et al. (1469) employed holistic climate modeling using a variety of tools and were able to make corrections to the report that had previously been put forward by IPCC. The use of modern technology has enabled researchers to eradicate errors due to making assumptions in the modeling process. The model reviewing over 100 years of data collection shows a discernible trend of rising surface temperatures. This is evidence enough of global warming even to opponents of global warming. Opponents of global warming oppose evidence- backed studies without providing alternative explanations for the recent upturn in extreme global weather events which coincide with rising surface temperatures of Earth.
Global warming is a real threat to the world we know and life in general. The rising temperatures of the sun, the decreasing oxygen levels, and the interaction of high temperatures with humidity all provide plausible explanations as to the demise of life on Earth. It is not some fantasy or science fiction but something that is already happening and could mark the end of the human domination of Earth unless proper measures are put in place to slow down the rate of global warming.
Karl, Thomas R., Arguez, A., Huang, B., Lawrimore, Jay H., McMahon, James R., Menne, Matthew J., Peterson, Thomas C., Vose, Russel S., and Zhang, Huai- Min. “Possible artifacts of data biases in the recent global surface warming hiatus.” Science, 348. 6242 (2015): 1469- 1472.
Katz, Cheryl. “Will Global Warming Heat Us Beyond Our Physical Limits?” 15 December 2015. Web. 25 July 2017.
MacMillan, Amanda. “Global Warming 101.” NRDC. 11 March 2016. Web. 25 July 2017.
Sekerci, Yadigar, and Sergei Petrovskii. “Mathematical Modelling of Plankton–Oxygen Dynamics Under the Climate Change.” Bulletin of Mathematical Biology 77.12 (2015): 2325–2353.
Siegel, Ethan. “How Global Warming Will Someday End Life on Earth.” 19 July 2015. Web. 25 July 2017.