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This paper will look at how human beings can reduce the devastating effects of the greenhouse effect. In the last three decades, the world has seen a rapid growth of industries. This rapid industrialization increases the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, a tendency that has the potential of bringing about global climate change. This change due to an increase in gases in the atmosphere is the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect occurs when greenhouse gases absorb thermal radiation from the earth surface. The gases then re-radiate the thermal radiations in all directions. Because some of this re-radiation gets back to the surface of the earth, it brings about an increase of the average temperature of the earth that is above the normal average in the absence of the greenhouse gases.
Solar radiation normally passes through the atmosphere in order to warm the surface of the earth. The solar radiation emits solar energy at reduced frequencies of infrared radiation. In the case of the greenhouse effect, greenhouse gases (which include water vapor, carbon dioxide, ozone and methane) absorb the infrared radiations and re-radiate much of energy to the earth surface and lower atmosphere. The re-radiation of heat to the earth planet leads to high temperatures (global warming). The high temperatures have the potential of destroying the O-zone layer (a layer in the earth’s atmosphere that has relatively high ozone concentration and serves to absorb approximately 98 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet light). Destruction of the ozone layer has the potential to damage much of life on earth (Lu, Vechhi, and Reichler 380).
Human activity is the main cause of an enhanced greenhouse effect (United Nations Environment Program 8). This primarily arises from activities of the human beings that increase the amount t of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Such activities include fossil fuel burning, cement production, deforestation of tropical forests, and the use of petrol engines, among others. As a result, human beings play a crucial part in enhancing the greenhouse effect. This means that human beings should control and decrease the undesirable outcome of the greenhouse effect.
Industrialization is the main culprit that contributes to an enhanced greenhouse effect in the world. The 17th century saw substantial changes in manufacturing, mining, technology, transportation, as well as agriculture. This period saw the replacement of manual labor with machine-based labor. This led to the creation of a society based on machines and technology like the steam power, railways, electrical power generators, canal, cotton mills, gas lighting, power-based coal mining, and paper machines, among others. Many of these processes used to depend on organic fuel (wood), but the revolution introduced energy from fossil fuels (mainly coal) that produced flames. Besides, the revolution brought about an increase in the invention of chemicals and factories that enhanced production. However, while this was happening, greenhouse gasses (especially carbon dioxide) were also increasing in the atmosphere (Oort 50). It took the effort of Joseph Fourier in 1824 to point to the world the potential problems likely to occur because of the increased production of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (Sutton, Dong and Gregory 185). In the same century, research by Claude Pouillet, John Tyndall and Svante Arrhenius strengthened Fourier’s argument about the greenhouse effect (Bowen 45). The evidence deduced from these scientific studies served as a wakeup call to the world. From that time on, there have been many suggestions on how humanity can decrease the devastating effect of the greenhouse effect. Let us look at some of these ways.
Decreasing the harmful effects of the greenhouse effect lies in the elimination and/or reduction of the emission of greenhouse gases (Lu, Vechhi, and Reichler 381). As a result, human beings should focus on how to do away with the greenhouse gases. It is crucial to note that the world does not have anti-greenhouse gases. If scientists were able to come up with anti-greenhouse gases to counteract the greenhouse gases, then the problem of the greenhouse effect could end. However, we can control the gases by eliminating them in exhaust streams, absorbing them, or using chemical combinations to make them inactive. These processes require large amounts of money and expertise; things that may not be available in most countries in the world. The first proposition is that scientists should intensify their effort in research in order to come up with easy ways of chemically eliminating greenhouse gases.
In addition, controlling deforestation is one way of reducing the greenhouse effect. The United Nations Environment Program notes that 20 percent of the greenhouse emissions in the world results from massive deforestation (6). Normally, human beings cut down forests in order to allow room for urbanization. This is because new cities and towns around the world need to use the space that trees occupy. People also cut down trees in order to produce coal. Though the industrial revolution saw the replacement of coal with other modern sources of energy, coal is still common in many parts of the world (Sutton, Dong and Gregory 185). For instance, in Africa, charcoal production remains one of the popular income generating activities (United Nations Environment Program 8). This practice contributes to massive deforestation. In addition, there is cutting down of trees to make furniture and other construction materials. It is a fact that most furniture in the world is wooden. On the same note, most buildings consist of wooden materials. The world should realize that the continued tradition of using wooden materials leads to deforestation.
Deforestation directly leads to increased global warming as it adds to the amount of carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere. Trees use carbon dioxide through the process of photosynthesis in order to make food. As a result, trees reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. This means that if the world does not have trees, carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere will increase. The increased carbon dioxide will lead to the greenhouse effect. The world should adopt ways to foster forests in order to combat the greenhouse effect. These ways include planting trees, doing away with wooden furniture and construction materials, adopting stringent laws governing the cutting down of trees, providing alternative income generating activities, and controlling urbanization.
Another way of controlling the greenhouse effect is the use of sources of energy that are friendly to the environment (Bowen 47). The use of fossil fuels to drive industries leads to the production of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. As already cited, industrialization of the world is the main cause of the greenhouse effect. The industries should explore other means of energy that do not give out greenhouse gases. This may be by switching to solar energy, hydroelectric energy, geothermal energy, wind energy, or any of the renewable sources of energy. Apart from the absence of the production greenhouse gases, these alternative energy sources are renewable.
A simple way of reducing the greenhouse effect is by reducing the use of fossil-fuel driven vehicles. In this point, people should avoid using private cars in favor of the public means of transport. Vehicles emit large amounts of carbon dioxide, thus contributing to enhancing the greenhouse effect (Oort 60). A small number of vehicles in the street will lead to few carbon emissions in the atmosphere. This means that people leave their private vehicles at home and use trains, buses, subway, or bicycles to travel. This practice will go a long way in reducing the greenhouse effect.
Besides, human beings should adopt other means of disposing waste products apart from combustion. This could entail digging compost pits or recycling of the waste products. Disposing of waste products (such as plastics) through combustion increases the amount of carbon emissions in the atmosphere. To control this, we could dig pits where we could bury such wastes. Another way is through reusing such wastes, either directly or after recycling. In the case of recycling, governments should foster the development of industries where waste products can be recycled. Governments should also adopt pro-active measures like banning the use of plastic products. Plastics are remarkably difficult to dispose, leading many people to opt to burn them (United Nations Environment Program 8). A complete ban on plastic would go a long way in controlling the greenhouse effect.
Another pro-active approach of controlling the greenhouse effect is by controlling the growth of the population in the world (United Nations Environment Program 10). If we do not control the population, the greenhouse effect will increase. This arises from the fact that a large population number would increase carbon emissions. For instance, there would be cutting down of forests in order to make room for the additional population. Besides, there would be an increase in the use of plastics, the use of fossil fuels, the use of vehicles, and so on. As a result, people should plan their families by use of contraceptives or other methods. This is in an effort to control the excessive growth of the world population.
Lastly, human beings have a role to play in reducing the devastating effects brought by greenhouse gases. This can be through controlling deforestation, reducing the use of motor vehicles, using natural energy sources, recycling waste products, avoiding the burning of waste products, and controlling the population growth. These practices will ensure that human beings reduce the devastating effects of the greenhouse effect.