Global warming has been defined as the increase in the mean temperature of the Earth's atmosphere since the mid twentieth century and its projected increase. This has been attributed to the increased concentrations of greenhouse gases resultant from human actions such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. However, the overall effect due to increased atmospheric aerosols has been self-regulated by global diming in which these aerosols block the sun's rays from reaching the earth's atmosphere. Projections by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change state that temperatures are likely to rise in the 21st century from 1.1 to 6.4 °C (2.0 to 11.5 °F). However, these estimates may be biased since there are differing estimates in the sensitivities to the effects of greenhouse gases and future predictions in greenhouse emissions.
It is projected that these increases in global temperatures are like to cause higher sea levels, changes in precipitation patterns and climate and the expansion of tropical deserts. These effects shall be most widely felt in the Arctic such that glaciers shall retreat while permafrost and sea ice are expected to reduce. Other projected effects are the increase in intensity and frequency of global environmental disasters attributed to weather; reduced agricultural yields and extinction of species (Dimento, 68).Already, acidity in oceans has been observed to be rising, a sure sign in support of global warming. There is a general consensus by scientists that global warming is real. However, this does not imply that the end to this controversy is in sight even after such world wide events as the Kyoto Protocol, ratified by 187 nations, takes place. This disputes range from the nature, causes and consequences. The most disputed issues are the global average air temperature especially in comparison to the Middle Ages which signify the temperatures in the world today are still lesser than those in the past; humankind's contribution to global warming and the validity of estimates in climate sensitivity that shed light on future situations. (Boykoff, 125-136)
There are various reasons that have been put forward by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (Kevin, 6). These are based on over 100 physical processes and 450 biological findings. First, in the Russian Arctic, soaring temperatures are leading to the melting of the permafrost resulting in the slump of 5 story apartments. Precipitation, such as rain, has intensified, resulting in severe floods and storms, while changing climatic conditions have been recorded whereby rivers freeze late into the season. Secondly, there is a general consensus in predictions that in the 21st Century, temperatures shall rise to 5.8°C by 1.4 °C (Randy, 20).
This shall change earth circulatory and regulatory systems such as the ocean circulation, hydrological, nutrient and carbon cycles. This implies a total change in natural ecosystems that are vital in the provision of basic living things needs such as water and food. Further, environmental problems will arise such as ozone layer depletion, decline in availability and quality of water, urban air pollution such as in Los Angeles and Toronto and natural loss in forest cover due to aridity coupled with deforestation. There is widespread evidence that the United States can no longer avail sufficient water for its citizens and is already negotiating for water deals with neighboring Canada. This shall not only lead to the extinction of major world species but it shall also pose a danger to mankind's existence in such a volatile environment (Jansen,466-478).
Secondly, it has been documented after recent in-depth research on polar ice that The Arctic and Antarctic are warming up more rapidly than estimated. This has the merit of expanding seas and oceans for navigation by ship. However, the demerits far outweigh the merits. It shall lead to rising water levels in the oceans with a potential of submerging low-lying islands and coasts thereby widespread losses not only in financial terms such as infrastructure and habitable land but also in natural and indigenous species found in such areas. Based on the findings by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, coastal shorelines are eroding at a rate of one to four feet per annum. This presents tangible evidence in support of global warming. A cognitive example is the Cape Hatteras lighthouse located in North Carolina.
It was built in 1870 at 1500 feet from the shoreline. Over a period slightly more than a century, this distance had reduced to 160 feet from the shoreline prompting relocation in 1999. Generalizing this concept, the United States has approximately 95,000 miles of shoreline, which has provided homes for more than 50 percent of its citizens since 1960 (Weart, pp.6)Therefore shoreline erosion, as attributed to the rising oceanic water levels, poses a serious threat. Further, receding permafrost layers shall also be detrimental in that animals such as polar bears, walruses and seals that predominantly depend on this ice levels shall be faced by extinction. This shall not only lead to large losses in biodiversity but shall also lead to a pit in the balance of certain ecosystems. Indigenous people, who chiefly depend on ice, such as in Alaska, are already being affected since they can no longer conduct their fish hunting and food gathering activities as in the past.
The IPCC found that mountain glaciers and snow cover had decreased in both the northern and southern hemisphere. This too has contributed to increase in sea level. IPCC also made some prediction in future about the changes in glaciers. Glacier recoil will be faced in mountainous region in Europe. In Latin America water availability for domestic purposes, agriculture, and energy production will be affected due to changes in precipitation patterns and the disappearance of glaciers. Size of glaciers and their thickness will be reduced at the Polar Regions (Pachauri,58).
Thirdly, flooding has been brought about by the heavy and unusual precipitation. Already in British Columbia, parts of Canada, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Russia and Eastern Europe have been adversely affected by these heavy rains. Peak stream levels, previously experienced in spring, have advanced into winter due to heavy rains that are not letting up to snow that is characteristic of the winter season (Ramanathan,221-227).
Fourthly, global warming has resulted in massive changes in the climatic situation in tropical lands. Long periods of drought have been recorded in the near past, a shift from the previous heavy rains experienced in the tropical equatorial climate in areas such as Senegal and the basins of Niger. There is danger of extinction of vast water resources such as Lake Chad whose waters have declined by a percentage estimated to be between 40 - 60%. The resultant situation, aridity and desertification, is already expanding at a higher rate in the tropics, wiping out vast resources of water, and along with it, endangered animal and plant species. It is estimated that 25% of mammals and 12% of birds are facing complete and rapid extinction in the next five years. Changes in the food chain supply attributed to the ongoing greenhouse effect has placed 89% of these animals are at an extremely high risk (James,12).
The fifth reason as to why global warming is real has been evidenced in the reducing production levels. Increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have led to the diminishing protein content in wheat and rice (Changnon,1). Further, the little food produced is under threat from the spreading pests and diseases. This has been especially the case in wheat whereby wheat rust has become a dogmatic and incurable disease that has led to vast losses. Productivity in the United States grain belts, and those in Australia and Asia have been observed to decline marginally. It is projected that the warmer temperatures likely to be experienced in future coupled by the increasing evapo-transpiration rates shall reduce agricultural yields to two-thirds of the current output. In the tropics, irrigation has become expensive due to the scarcity of water resources rendering it out of reach for farmers. Further, crops in these areas are deemed to be at their maximum temperature tolerance beyond which they cannot survive (Morita,5).
The sixth reason in support of the global warming concept is the current wave of heat waves that have been so far experienced in Greece and Russia; cold snaps, intense floods, droughts, highly destructive hurricanes, high pollution rates and allergens. Not only shall there be increased widespread financial losses but also an increased compromise on air quality thereby leading to a diverse range of illnesses in the populace. It is vital to note that costs attributed to global weather disasters has increased from $3.9 billion United States dollars to an estimated $40 billion in 2000. The frequency and intensity of such risks as floods and wild fires due to heat waves has rendered them uninsurable. Tsunamis and earthquakes such as the recent occurrence in Haiti are expected to increase in intensity and severity. This is since glaciers exert immense pressure on the earth's surface and weigh over 1 ton per cubic meter. If this pressure reduces due to the continuous melting, this shall be released explicitly through tsunamis, volcanoes and earthquakes. A look at the 2004 Hurricane Katrina and the 2005 Asian Tsunami are evidence enough in support of this (Fisher,43).
Finally, global dimming occurs due to increased concentration of atmospheric aerosols which block sunlight from reaching the earth surface. This has partially countered the effects of warming induced by greenhouse gases. Most of these aerosols are produced by volcanoes and pollutants. These aerosols exert cooling effects due to reflection of the incoming sunlight. Radioactive forcing due to aerosols is limited temporarily due to wet deposition which causes the aerosols to have an atmospheric life of about one week. Sulfate aerosols may sometimes act as cloud condensation nuclei and thus lead to cloud with smaller cloud droplets (Gregory,2)
However, despite the multiple reasons put forward that global warming is real; opponents to this concept have put forward various reasons that negate the existence of this principle. First, most scientists do not believe in the existence of this concept. Top of FormOver 17,000 scientists are signatory to a petition disseminating from the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine which states that there is no substantial scientific proof that human activities that lead to the release of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane shall cause catastrophic heating in the earth's atmosphere in the near future. Surveys conducted by climatologists are in support of this statement rendering the claim on global warming null.
Secondly, the most reliable data sources on temperature have shown minimal changes in the near past. In the last 23 years, scientific studies have been conducted in the lower troposphere which has shown no significant increase in temperature. This would otherwise be largely affected by the change in the sun's intensity due to its closeness to the earth's surface and its consequent heating by terrestrial radiation. These readings have an accuracy of 0.01ºC and are evaluated in conjunction to report findings by weather balloons. Changes have only been observed on land though these are compromised by heat generated by urban activities. It is also vital to note that most of the world consists of water rather than land (Parry,23-30).
Thirdly, computer technology used in the measurement of global trends in temperature increase have been largely compromised by flux adjustments that may be at times 25 times larger than the actual effects of increasing carbon dioxide concentrations. A proper and acceptable approach would have to do away with assumptions and adjustments so as to be creditable (Trazona,270).
Fourthly, the IPCC has failed in proving that human activities are responsible in the increase in levels of greenhouse gases that have brought about global warming. Executive summaries from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have been often used by alarmists to justify their claim on global warming. However, an IPCC report delivered in 2001 about Climate Change is categorical that: "The Earth's atmosphere-ocean dynamics is chaotic: its evolution is sensitive to small perturbations in initial conditions. This sensitivity limits our ability to predict the detailed evolution of weather; inevitable errors and uncertainties in the starting conditions of a weather forecast amplify through the forecast. As well as uncertainty in initial conditions, such predictions are also degraded by errors and uncertainties in our ability to represent accurately the significant climate processes." (Bast 2)
On to the fifth point as proposed by opponents of this law: A modest occurrence in global warming would be more beneficial than harmful to the human populace. For instance, temperatures experienced during the Medieval Warm Period were higher than the current predictions and estimates by the IPCC. It lasted from the 800 to 1200 AD and enabled the Vikings to settle in the currently inhospitable Greenland. In the period 5000-3000 BC, commonly referred to as the Climate Optimum, the world's climate was warmer than it is today therefore enabling man to build his first civilizations. Therefore, it would be inconclusive and negative of these facts to state that global warming is in any way detrimental (Gardner, 4).
The sixth point is that any efforts to quickly avert the ongoing greenhouse gas emissions would be too expensive while not attaining the intended purpose of curbing any climatic changes. As posted in the American Round Table, The Kyoto Protocol set that the overall Carbon dioxide emissions by the United States should decline by 7% from 1990 by 2012. This however would necessitate high energy taxes and stiff regulations while losing 2.4 million jobs and an annual Gross Domestic output of $300 billion. This would imply that the household income would decline by $2,700. Consequently, state taxes would decline by $93.1 billion due to the lower household incomes earned. In comparison to these huge losses, full participation by the signatory nations would only achieve a drop of 0.14 degrees Celsius by the year 2100.
The seventh reason that has been put forward is that any measures that have been implemented by signatory state members to the Kyoto Protocol have not only been expensive but also threaten to bust the economies of these states. Individual states in the United States have already lost an accumulative $90 billion due to expensive and ambitious regulation policies. A look at New Jersey points that $358 million per annum is lost in taxes so as to fund global warming causes that cannot make any significant changes to the world situation. This can only be summarized as waste of funds that could have been used to generate jobs (Horn,32-35).
Finally, immediate demands to end global warming cannot be met by expensive endeavors in the present or by silence. The most achievable way is to invest in atmospheric research that would have an impact in the future if things are observed to be more compelling. This since there is insufficient knowledge on global warming to properly combat the trend. Currently, most state economies cannot bear the burden that comes along with the clamor for immediate costs, hence, only the economically viable projects should be carried out.
The main question that has remained in the mind of the people is how to eliminate this deadly impacts of global warming or otherwise how to eliminate any possibilities of the event of global warming occurring. This has given rise to the role of the people, government and other bodies such as United Nations. The united nation convention to combat desertification intends to tackle the problem of desertification by adopting a partnership between government and local populations. The convention aims at encouraging local communities to regain sense of respect for land, and understanding of their land and the climatic factors which affect it.
In an effort to prevent the occurrence of global warming, people are been encouraged to use energy saving appliances such as energy efficient bulbs that ensure less heat is lost unnecessary. They will be using few faradays of electricity; this means that some gases which are emitted when producing electricity using petroleum will be cut short. This reduces the amount of gases that causes global warming in the atmosphere.
Secondly, people are recycling more in order to reduce the requirement for constant production of new material that may produce a lot of carbon dioxide when manufactured. The use of public transport rather than individuals driving their cars has also assisted in reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. People are using bicycle that does not produce any gas at all. This is indeed the best form of transport but it is not effective over long distance. Walking can also be a good method of reducing of reducing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This is mostly preferred over short distance. Carpooling is whereby some few individuals use one car to travel instead of everybody traveling in separate cars. The amount of carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere while using one car is lesser compared to when each individual is using a car to travel to a common destination. In general carpooling reduces the amount of greenhouse gases emitted in the atmosphere.
In addition, electrical appliances, such as television sets, computers and refrigerators should not be left on standby. Their usage should also be reduced to a minimum so as to conserve all possible energy. Protecting and conserving forests word wide also helps in that, when forests are cut, burnt down their stored carbon is released in the air this account 20% of global warming. The use of renewable energy sources such as solar energy will help in combating global warming by reducing the amount of carbon emitted in the atmosphere. Driving of more fuel efficient vehicles, and adopting driving styles for instance, turning off the engine when the vehicle is motionless so as to reduce carbon emission in the air. People can extend their positive influence on global warming well beyond their homes by actively encouraging others to take actions (Zdruli,128).
The government is also coming up with various measures with the aim of reducing these deadly effects of global warming. These measures are commonly known as government policies. One policy is to encourage energy efficiency by switching to more efficient vehicles, appliances and manufacturing process to save both energy and money. Government is also encouraging use of and development of renewable energy sources such as wind, biomass and solar energy. This is with aim of reducing the concentration of gases in the atmosphere.
The government, being the supreme body in the country, may reduce gasoline consumption for transportation by introducing alternative fueled vehicles such as electric and fuel-celled vehicles and encouraging carpooling, cycling and use of public transport to reduce energy. Switching from coal and oil that produces high carbon dioxide to natural gases has been an effort made by most governments to reduce emission of carbon dioxide. It may encourage conservation of forest through leading people in planting of trees and reduce deforestation. Plants use carbon dioxide for it to make food. This reduces global warming by nearly 20% (Geist,136).
In most nations, the usage of chlorofluorocarbons that are responsible for depleting the protective o-zone layer has been phased out. Slowing down population growth can help reduce the per capital emission of heat trapping gases that result to global warming. This can be done by encouraging small families through family planning. Governments have been enacting rules and regulations so as to reduce the amount of pollutants released in the air by industries. This can be achieved by heavily fining those companies that release these gases into the atmosphere.
These methods, if applied consistently and appropriately, can assist in reducing the effects of global warming in the whole world since it is a whole world issue. Global warming should be addressed nationally by all the nations. If the effects of global warming will continue becoming extreme the whole world may perish and most of its beautiful features become extinct. This may include ice which is melting at very high rate in most of the countries. To combat these disasters associated with global warming, nations should come together and look for the solutions.
In conclusion, the challenges faced by global warming are far too serious to be ignored. The vast evidence in the effects of global warming cannot be dismissed as mere rhetoric due to the failure of an insufficient body of knowledge. Whether this can be attributed to human activities or not, there is at least substantial evidence that the earth is changing, there is rapid and increased depletion of the ozone layer and the earth's axis is off. The earth cannot be treated as a garbage dumping site due to a controversy on whether global warming is real. It is imperative for nations to come together through forums such as the Kyoto Protocol and issue ultimatums that must be met and enforced to avoid any future effects against future generations.