All About Global Warming
Published at - August 11, 2021
10 min read
It’s not an alien concept to our Mother-Earth to alternatively be warmed and cooled. It has happened before and it’s still happening. The difference is, it took millions and millions of years for the earth to warm up before the advent of humankind. In contrast, today we have managed to do it in 200 years.
I know it is nice to have a big house with an abundance of modern energy, an automobile that burns fuel but runs very fast, a nation full of industries to produce modern goods that makes our life easier. But at the same time, the environment around us is changing. Mother-earth, which has granted us air to breathe, water to drink and resources to feed on, is losing its balance. We, by our ruthless act, are destroying the wildlife, polluting the air, water and soil and thus warming up the earth. Our indulgence is causing our planet to lose its delicate balance. Global warming is one of the results of our sins.
What is Global Warming
Global warming is the unusually rapid increase in Earth’s average surface temperature over the past century primarily due to the greenhouse gases released by people burning fossil fuels. Climate scientists have warned us, that the planet would get warmer as we burn fossil fuels and release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Global warming is not a new phenomenon. Earth has experienced climate change in the past, although without our contribution. The Earth we inhabit today has witnessed global warming and the mass extinction of life before. A marked change in atmospheric carbon was the feature of all five mass extinctions that occurred before the era of sapience. Global warming is the long-term warming of the planet’s overall temperature. Though this warming trend has been going on for a long time, its pace has significantly increased in the last hundred years due to the burning of fossil fuels. In previous events, it had taken volcanic activity up to one million years to dredge up enough carbon from within the earth to trigger a catastrophe. By burning millions of years worth of living organisms all at once as coal and oil, we have managed to do so in less than 200 years.
Burning fossil fuels including coal, oil and natural gas cause the greenhouse effect. The term greenhouse effect is derived from the ‘greenhouse’. A greenhouse is a structure with walls and a roof made chiefly of transparent material, such as glass, in which plants requiring regulated climatic conditions are grown. As the sunray penetrates the structure, the heat that comes with it cannot leave the structure. Similarly, The greenhouse effect is when the Sun’s rays penetrate the atmosphere of the earth, but when that heat cannot escape back into space. It is caused by the gases produced by burning fossil fuels. The gases that result in the greenhouse effect are called greenhouse gases. These greenhouse gasses are carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, water vapour, methane, and nitrous oxide. As they increase in the amount in the atmosphere uncontrolled and we run out of mechanisms to mitigate them and maintain a delicate balance, the greenhouse effect occurs. The excess heat in the atmosphere has caused the average global temperature to rise over time, otherwise known as global warming.
How Does This Happen
The earth is surrounded by its atmosphere. It is basically a layer of gases retained by Earth's gravity. Earth’s atmosphere protects life on Earth by creating pressure allowing for liquid water to exist on the Earth's surface, absorbing ultraviolet solar radiation, warming the surface through heat retention and reducing temperature extremes between day and night. This atmosphere is vital for life on our planet. However, when affected by greenhouse gases, this atmosphere becomes responsible for global warming.
Now let us come to the process of this specific calamity we are talking about. Every day a huge amount of energy travels to earth from the sun. The energy penetrates the atmosphere and creates a great amount of heat. This energy is not just necessary, it’s vital. Every living organism would perish without it. It is the primary source of energy on our planet. When solar energy bounces back off the earth, some amounts of energy are lost in their way. However, a considerable amount still escapes our planet. After the sunset, the earth cools down. As we have stated before, this solar energy is vital for the existence of life on the earth.
Now, we might ask- ‘what is wrong with global warming?’ If the warming of the earth is vital, then the heat is not a bad thing after all. It is about the amount of heat that stays and leaves the earth that matters. Absorbing some energy and reflecting the rest keeps a delicate balance of warmth. Therefore, the warmth remains just right. When the earth absorbs more energy than necessary, it causes a problem. Why would the earth absorb energy more than necessary? It never does. We will have to blame it on greenhouse gas. Green-House gases stop energy from escaping back out into space. When the solar energy reaches the surface of the earth through the atmosphere, the earth as usual absorbs the necessary energy. But when the energy goes back into space through the atmosphere, the greenhouse gases trap some of that energy by absorbing them. Then, they will bounce them back to the earth. The result? Earth now has some surplus energy that it can’t use. This surplus energy eventually contributes to warming up the earth more, breaking the delicate balance that exists on this planet. We didn’t invent greenhouse gases. It was always there in the atmosphere. What we did is, have increased them in such an amount that the earth cannot mitigate them anymore. These surplus gases are responsible for the global warming we are talking about.
What’s Wrong with Global Warming
From the beginning of this article, we are talking about global warming and its process. Now, for a change, let us shift our attention from the process of this calamity and to the consequences of it. Yes, the earth is warming. Perhaps, the rate of warming is more than before. But, what is wrong with that? After all, it still snows in the southern hemisphere and still rains in the tropical region. After all, air-conditioning is getting cheaper day by day. What seems to be the problem with global warming? Let me describe you.
Global warming has consequences for our oceans, Weather, ecosystem and Health. The global air temperature had been relatively stable till the 90s. But it now appeared this was only because the ocean was absorbing much of the access heat masking our impact. However, as a result of this absorption, the ocean itself is getting warmer. Therefore, the ocean’s Ecosystem is losing its balance and the ice of the north and south poles is melting. Ice Sheets, such as Greenland and Antarctica, are melting. The extra water that was once held in the glaciers causes sea levels to rise and spills out of the ocean, flooding coastal regions. Summer sea ice of the arctic has been reduced by 40% in 40 years. We are losing our planet’s ice. Before our eyes, we are witnessing the destruction of the most pristine and distant ecosystem of our world. Global warming is responsible for the disaster in the ocean ecosystem. According to David Attenborough’s witness statement and the discovery of a blue planet film crew, the coral reefs of the sea were turning white. This phenomenon was caused by the intense warming of the sea which enabled the algae to be expelled from the surface of the coral reefs. The algae and the reef lived symbiotically and without the algae, the corals are ultimately smothered by seaweed and the reef turns into a wonderland to the wasteland. Warmer temperature also makes the weather more extreme. This means an increase in the frequency and intensity of storms, floods, heavy snow-falls and droughts. Therefore, growing crops becomes more difficult, the areas that animals and plants inhabit shift and the water supply diminishing. Also, the warmer temperature is not good for the wildlife. Climate change often disrupts the balance of the ecosystem. National Wildlife Federation (NWF) notes that increases in average annual temperatures create conditions that dramatically elevate the risk and severity of forest fires, particularly in the American West. When warm weather arrives early, it leads to premature spring snowmelt and runoff. That creates a longer fire season causing more inferno in the forests. One major impact of climate change is increasingly severe storms. Severe storms carry a lot of energy that creates more frequent forest inferno. Climate change and warming of the earth creates smog in the urban area. Being exposed to the increased amount of smog can cause lung cancer, asthma and heart disease.
What Can We Do About It
If we are responsible for this calamity, we can make things right by combating it. The answer is easy and it’s blowing in the wind. It’s our turn to execute it. Our planet may survive if we play our cards right. So, how can we stop global warming? By not doing what causes it. Global warming is largely caused by greenhouse gases and greenhouse gases are formed and diffused in the air by burning fossil fuel. Therefore, we can reduce the burning of fossil fuels. Our industries that use coal and oil as fossil fuels must look for alternatives.
Fortunately, we have alternatives in our hands. The alternative is renewable energy. Renewable Energy is the energy generated from sources that naturally replenish themselves and never run out.’ So, what isn’t the source of renewable energy? Fossil Fuel and Radioactive sources. Although more than 80% of our total energy is derived from fossil fuel, the source is not replenishable. Therefore, they may run out. On the other hand, renewable energy, although we get only 10% of our energy from it, never runs out. Fortunately, renewable energy is the fastest-growing source of energy in the world. Unlike fossil fuel, renewable energy like solar plants has no direct emission of greenhouse gas. Therefore, solar power is good for the environment. Often called clean energy, solar power can be the alternative source of energy in saving our planet from global warming. Also planting trees and reducing deforestation can save the world from global warming.
While all these actions are important, the most important action in combating global warming is raising awareness. People are not very concerned about this calamity because they are not aware of it. People have the right to know what has been done to their planet by increasing industrialization. When they know, they will stand against it. The earth is our home, and it’s ours to be protected.