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Global warming means an increase of the earth's temperature especially at the lower atmospheres mainly because of an increase of the greenhouse gases. The increase of these greenhouse gases are attributed to human's intervention and his changed lifestyle in the recent years. The greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, per fluorocarbons, methane, nitrous oxide and hydro fluorocarbons. From statistics, it is shown that the level of the gases have increased from 280ppmv to 370ppmv in the last 100years. These gases are due to factory farming, burning of oil and deforestation. In this essay we will examine how and what can be done to stop or even reverse the adverse effects of global warming. We will further look at how the United States of America can pioneer the movement without damaging the economy.
What is global warming?
Global warming is the average increase of the global temperatures. Although natural events are some of the cause of global warming, humans are also to blame as their activities like emission of greenhouse gases have contributed to increase of the global temperatures. The US agency explains that there are some indicators for the global warming effects; shrinking atmosphere, rising tropopause, less oxygen in the air, cooling atmosphere and more fossil carbon in the air. The greenhouse effect refers to the increase of the earths' temperature as the greenhouse gases trap energy from the sun. Although these greenhouse gases are life enabling as they ensure that heat is retained on the earth as the earth's average temperature could be too cold, too much of the heat that they trap means that the earth will be less habitable for humans, animals and plants. Due to global warming, sea levels have increased at an average of 3.1mm per year in the years 1993-2003, which is double the rate that is 161-2003. Antarctica has confirmed losing its glaciers at a rate 1.6 meters per year in 1992-1996, an unusually rapid rate as compared to 3.8 centimeters a year 4,700 years ago (Amedo K. 2010).
Stopping Global Warming
The big question on everyone who cares about the environment is whether global warming can be stopped. Although there is little that can be done to completely stop global warming, but it can be checked to 'not-out-of hand levels if immediate and appropriate measures are taken. The task is preventing the atmospheric CO2 levels from reaching 440ppm. At 440ppm levels, the global temperature will increase by 1.5'C which will otherwise have serious effects not only on our economy but our lives here on earth as well. At today's emission rate of CO2, we need 30 years to realize the above. Nations which emit greenhouse gases need to reduce their emissions by 60% especially the top ten emitters which do account for 70% of all emissions. There should be stiff penalties for those countries that do not meet the set out targets. Suggestions of the penalties range from trade sanctions to prosecution by the ICC. Also to encourage reduction of CO2, some form of awards should be considered for countries that develop alternative energy sources for fuel, a device that can extract CO2 from the atmosphere with maybe a financial reward or favorable trade status. This will act like an incentive for countries to develop new innovative energy saving methods or greenhouse reduction methods. Also there are suggestions that the United Nations should set up an organizations that will be mandated to look into emissions being emitted by various countries and recommend to them penalties for non-compliance countries (Strom R. pg.241-242).
Global warming is adversely is affecting the fortunes of not only the US economy but rather it is a global problem that needs all the nations need to take measures to combat it and save the earth. This was shown when in 1997, 150 nations agreed to the Kyoto Protocol to do the following to reduce global warming effects;
Another way to try and stop or at least reduce global warming is by reforestation. Trees can either consume CO2 or release CO2 to the atmosphere. As a tree grows, it absorbs CO2 but when the same tree is cut, it releases the CO2 to the atmosphere as it decays naturally or by burning up of the organic materials. Therefore the American Forestry Association recommends faster growing trees as they consume more CO2 and long living species as they fix the greenhouse gases for a longer period of time. They use a benchmark of 13 pounds of CO2 per year per tree. Some senators in the US have outlined their plans to combat global warming by asking the government to offer tax incentives to timberland owners. The plan includes offering landowners incentives to plant trees, preserve the existing older forests and extend the period of harvesting trees. The money they claim can come from part of the money used on climate change and global warming (Socha T. The Potential Effects of Global Warming).
Technology can also play a big role in reducing emission of greenhouse gases. A United States Council for Automotive research estimates that if a car that gets up to 80 miles to a gallon of gasoline is developed it will reduce US carbon emissions by as much as 87 million metric tons per year. Also a study done by Worldwatch Institute concludes that the potential impact of innovative new approaches could be bigger like the use of alternative fuel sources like from wind power, energy efficient technologies. Also advancing of electric generation like the conversion of coal plants to natural gas should be encouraged and it is estimate that it will reduce more than 136 million metric tons of the greenhouse gases (Socha T. The Potential Effects of Global Warming).
Some small but effective measures that can be used to curb the rapid spread of global warming include; following the RRR-reduce, reuse and recycle. People should avoid dumping waste products in the ground as they break and release methane to the atmosphere. Another is by avoiding usage of electrical appliances that do emit green house gases like refrigerators that release CFCs. We should try to always use energy efficient appliances like the use of thermostats that do reduce temperatures automatically. Consumption of organic foods should be encouraged as inorganic foods contain high levels of methane. Periodic maintenance of vehicles does help in efficient fuel usage and thus reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. Last but not least is teaching our neighbors and friends the importance of conserving our environment and about the effects and impacts of global warming and how they can contribute to reduce it (Pakhare J. How to Stop Global Warming).
Effects of global warming on US economy
The economy of the US has already been impacted by this global economy. The increased temperatures have resulted in longer summers, shorter winters and melting of polar ice caps. Longer summers have resulted to an increase of forest fires leading to destruction of timber. The longer summers have also resulted in an allergy season in turn increasing health care costs for allergy sufferers and asthma. Also increased air pollution kills 1,000 US residents for every 1'c increase of temperatures. For short winter it means that pests like the pine bark beetle do not die off during winter and live killing millions of trees. Experts do believe that global warming does increase the size and frequency of hurricanes like the Hurricane Katrina which occurred in 2005 and damaged property worth around $125 billion. Researchers from Oregon and Washington estimate that an increase of 2'C than that of 1970-1999 average by the 2020s and 3'C by the 2040s will affect a whopping $269billion economy. It further estimates that acre of burned forest will increase by 50% by the year 2020 and 100% by 2040, this will double the annual cost of fighting wild fires to $75million by 2020 (Richman D. Global warming to cost us).
Global warming being an average increase of the global temperature has impacted negatively on the prevailing climatic conditions and the economy of not only the US but also the world at large. Several measures have been outlined by different nations under the Kyoto protocol to curb the ever increasing situations that do contribute to emission of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. From being asked to set voluntary limits of emission to being told that it is the simple things like consumption of organic foods, proper maintenance of vehicles, use of energy efficient electrical appliances and reforestations methods that can be used to at least reduce or try to reverse the concentration of CO2 levels in the atmosphere and thus in doing so curb global warming. This is being emphasized because from available statistics if this is not done, then the economy of countries like the US will be adversely affected by the global warming. Already the global warming has resulted to long summers which in turn have increased forest fires and allergies. Experts have also concluded that global warming has increased the frequency of hurricanes. Therefore urgently the measures outlined above should be followed in order to curb global warming and save the earth.