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Human beings are in charge of the environment in which they live and conduct business in. Preserving the environment is both a personal and a collective responsibility. Various human activities such as manufacturing, disposing waste material, and construction have negative impacts on the environment. Environmental degradation is a direct threat to the survival of human beings and other living things. It causes problems such as global warming, depletion of natural resources, and destruction of ecosystems. Consequently, there is a need to preserve the environment. Upholding ethics is central to preservation of the environment. In this context, ethics refers to the moral correctness of our actions towards the environment. The effects of global warming, and the need to reduce it will be discussed in this paper.
Global Warming as an Urgent Problem
Global warming refers to “the rising average temperature of earth’s atmosphere, and the oceans and its related effects”. Global warming is mainly caused by the production of greenhouse gases. These gases are normally produced and released into the atmosphere through human activities which include burning fossil fuels, and cutting trees. Global warming is associated with severe environmental effects which are likely to threaten the survival of human beings. As the atmospheric temperatures rise, the sea levels also rise. Thus, the pattern and amount of rainfall or precipitation will change, thereby increasing the risk of desert expansion. The climate patterns will change, thus, making it difficult to practice agriculture. Various animal and plant species will also face the risk of extinction.
Global warming is an urgent problem due to the rate at which it is taking place. Scientist estimates that the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere edged up by about 0.80C in the last 100 years. Two thirds of this raise occurred in the last thirty years. The implication of this trend is that the rate of global warming is increasing. In the last three decades, the world has experienced significant economic growth; a trend which is likely to continue into the future. However, the economic activities have resulted into a sharp increase in emission of carbon-dioxide. As more countries continue to develop, the emission of greenhouse gases is bound to increase. The inability of most countries to enforce laws that help in preserving the environment has catalyzed the rate of greenhouse gas emissions. These trends indicate that the rate of global warming is likely to be higher in the future, and its effects are bound to be worse. Thus, it is apparent that global warming is an urgent problem that has to be addressed as soon as possible in order to preserve planet earth.
Preventing Global Warming
Global warming can be prevented by engaging in activities that help in reducing the emission of carbon-dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Changing one’s lifestyle is one of the ways of achieving low rates of carbon emissions. Consequently, I engaged in the following activities. The first activity involved replacing one regular light bulb with a florescent tube. The aim was to reduce carbon emission by 150 pounds annually. The second activity involved using public transport system, and walking instead of driving. Driving less helps in saving at least one pound of carbon per mile covered through other means apart from driving. The last activity involved taking cold showers. Using less hot water helps in saving 350 pounds of carbon-dioxide annually.
Changing one’s lifestyle is not easy, especially, if it is to be implemented immediately. Consequently, I experienced an unpleasant feeling while performing the aforementioned activities. Performing the activities not only involved compromising my comfort, but also rescheduling my daily activities. For example, driving is more comfortable than using a public means of transport. However, I felt great after successfully completing the activities. I was particularly delighted by the fact that I had made a positive contribution in conserving the environment, and reducing global warming.
Society’s Commitment to Preserve the Environment
The society has always been complacent in addressing urgent problems such as environmental degradation caused by carbon-dioxide emission due to the following reasons. First, there has been asymmetry of information regarding the effects of human behavior on the environment. The problem of limited information concerning the impact of environmental degradation is high in developing countries where access to data and information is constrained. Individuals are less likely to change their behavior if they are not aware of how their behaviors impact the environment. In some cases, people lack the knowledge and skills to respond to problems such as environmental degradation.
Second, the impacts of environmental degradation through carbon emission are not immediate. For instance, change in temperature or amount of precipitation happens after a long time. Consequently, people are not in a hurry to address the problem of environmental degradation. Most societies tend to solve the problems created by environmental degradation instead of preventing environmental degradation. Installation of air conditioners and irrigation systems are examples of strategies aimed at solving the problems created by environmental degradation. Implementation of these strategies contributes to the general reluctance to prevent environmental degradation. Finally, lack of leadership contributes to the society’s reluctance to reduce environmental degradation. Problems that affect the entire society can not be addressed if there is no effective leadership to sensitize the populace on the need to solve the problem.
Government’s Role in Reducing Global Warming
The government should be actively involved in formulating policies that can help in reducing global warming. The reasons for involving the government can be explained as follows. The government has more resources than any individual or group. The government’s resources can be used to conduct research which will inform any policies formulated to reduce global warming. According to the constitution, the government has the responsibility of protecting the citizens and their environment. This provision requires the government to take deliberate actions to solve problems such as global warming through appropriate policies. Involving the government in the policy formulation process will help in providing the much needed leadership in solving societal problems.
Policies are not important if they can not be implemented or enforced. The government has the means to implement any policy that is meant to improve the welfare of the citizens. For example, the government can use the legal system to punish those who ignore the policy, and to reward those who accept it. Thus, it is important to involve the government in the process of formulating policies in order to increase the chances of enforcing the policy. Finally, the government will be instrumental in influencing other countries to protect their environment. Environmental problems caused by irresponsible behavior in one country are likely to escalate to other countries if not controlled. This can only be prevented if the government collaborates with other governments to find a joint solution.
Global warming is the process through which the atmospheric temperatures rise as a result of high concentration of greenhouse gases in the air (Weart, 2008, p. 98). Global warming has severe consequences which include expansion of deserts and destruction of ecosystems. Notwithstanding these repercussions, the society continues to engage in activities that promote environmental degradation. Global warming remains an urgent problem due to the high rate at which it is taking place. It is possible to reduce global warming by engaging in ethical behavior, and implanting effective policies to preserve the environment.