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Published: Tuesday 29th of October 2013
Climate change is a phenomenon in which the temperature increase significantly. Many activities, including human activities, contribute to climate change. When it occurs, many environmental changes can occur. Climate change can cause flooding in one part of the world and drought in the other. Summer and winter can become extremely hot or cold respectively. Oceans become warmer, and the icebergs or glaciers will melt. This inevitably leads to a rise in the ocean level and cause significant flooding in many countries close to the sea. Because of that, it is imperative that we stop climate change or global warming if we want to save our future generation from the environmental challenges.
One culprit that caused climate change is the emission of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. We have been doing that for centuries. However, this activity only intensified during the last century. Most of the greenhouse gases come from burning fossil fuels. For example, you burn some coal for a BBQ party on a Saturday evening or taking your petrol-fueled car out for an afternoon drive around town. As the name suggests, greenhouse gases function just like a greenhouse. It stores heat within itself very efficiently, and let heat escape very slowly. When those gases are emitted into the atmosphere, they form a blanket that makes it difficult for heat to escape the earth’s atmosphere. While heat regulation is essential to sustain life on Earth, having too much greenhouse gas will make the atmosphere too warm, and it will have drastic consequences. This will lead to some deadly consequences on human health and ecosystems. While we are used to the climate that we are living now, we cannot adapt to any drastic and quick changes in the temperature. Plus, if the temperature goes up, it will affect our means of transportation, water supply, agriculture, and basically every aspect of our lives. Unfortunately, since greenhouse gases remain in the atmosphere for a very long time, we will continue to experience global warming for quite a long time before our eco-friendly lifestyle shows its effect on our climate.
Global warming has been accelerated in the last century. This is because humans have been burning more fossil fuel than ever. Normally, those greenhouse gases that come from burning fossil fuels dissipate along the way up to the atmosphere and their effects were negligible. However, we began to burn more and more fossil fuels as our number grow. This led to the emission of a substantially large amount of gases that actually have an impact on the climate. Some common greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, methane, and water vapor. Normally, clouds and ice reflect up to 30 percent of the incoming sunlight heat energy from the sun back to space. Another 70 percent is absorbed in the atmosphere, land or ocean. The heat energy helps make Earth warm enough to sustain life, which is a very good thing. Throughout history, there have been some substantial natural climate changes such as the Ice Age that killed off many species while other species thrived.
However, these phenomena are not caused by human activities. Volcanic eruptions, especially the one that killed off the dinosaurs, released sulfur dioxide particles into the atmosphere. Those particles covered the atmosphere and prevented any heat energy from entering the atmosphere. Then, the Earth became cold. Consequently, the volcanic eruption caused one of the mass extinctions in history. The heat energy coming from the sun can also fluctuate, which can cause some changes in the climate, although it is mild. Snow and ice can also have an impact on the climate. If the planet warms up, then snow and ice will melt. When that happens, even less heat energy is reflected back into space. This consequently leads to more warming, more ice melting, and even more warming. The cycle continues. Plants, animals, and other life on Earth can also affect climate. Some produce greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. Again, this process is very natural compared to human’s activities. While plants absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen by photosynthesis, they also contribute to global warming by releasing some carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, usually at night. Farm animals produce methane when they digest their food. When we raise them in large quantity, you can expect there to be an exceptionally high amount of greenhouse gas produced by those animals. Another means of greenhouse gases production is our means of transportation. Cars and trucks release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when they burn fossil fuels. Cities are particularly crowded with vehicles that are powered by burning fossil fuels. Hundreds of thousands of cars travel in crowded cities every day. One can guess how much greenhouse gases are produced when they do. Wildfires also release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. However, the forests burned down will be replaced by similarly sized forests again and they will aid in reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Scientists have predicted what we should expect with global warming. There will be less ice in both North and South Poles because it will melt with the rising temperature. Consequently, the sea level will rise and flood countries that are close to the sea. Venice, for one, is expected to be completely flooded. Heat waves will become more extreme and severe, especially in Australia, and life on Earth will become more complicated. In African countries, for example, life will be even more challenging.
Water will be scarcer, and most of the continent could potentially be uninhabitable due to the unbearable heat. Because greenhouse gases require a long time to be gone, scientists predict that we will continue to experience global warming for decades to come, even if we no longer emit any more greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. It is worth mentioning that while nature itself contributed to global warming, human activities contributed to global warming the most. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change informs that the extent that the climate change will affect each region over time. The ability of both the societal and environmental systems to mitigate or adapt to the change will also be varied. So far, this decade (Around 2005 and 2010) has been the warmest since 1880. During the 21st century, the Earth is expected to warm up by another 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit if we cannot reduce our greenhouse gases emission. How did humanity get itself into such a mess? Since we discovered fire, we have been using nature to satisfy our needs. Unlike animals that adapt to the environment around them, we do the opposite. We make our environment suitable for us instead. In cold regions, we cut down trees for firewood to heat up our homes. That was obviously not enough when our population grew. We cleared forests to make space for agriculture and housing. We developed technologies to make our lives easier. With that comes electricity and energy plants that are used in various ways. The energy we use mostly comes from burning fossil fuels. It is hard to imagine that we discovered electrical energy only about a few centuries ago. Now, it becomes an integral part of our lives that it is almost impossible to live without access to electricity. However, although we discovered fire, electricity, and progressed into an area where no other species have ever ventured before, our discovery also has its drawbacks. Our development has brought environmental destruction. Among the consequences of our advancements, we have become one of the biggest producers of greenhouse gases. Therefore, we are responsible for this climate change.
Fortunately, we can all take part and reduce or even stop global warming altogether. So far, there are several methods you can use in your daily life to combat global warming. For example, the concept of reducing, reusing, and recycling help reduce the number of things you need to buy from the market. While it may seem small, a city of people adapting to this 3Rs lifestyle can have a significant impact on the environment as a whole. Another method is to switch to public transportation as opposed to personal transportation. Want to go to work, buy groceries, or visit your relatives? Ditch the car and use the bus. Not only will it decrease the traffic concentration on the roads and reduce the likelihood of having traffic jams, but the greenhouse gas emission will also be reduced. Think about it. Suppose that a bus holds 45 people and they all are heading to the same place, and two people in average own their own vehicle. You would have 21.5 cars compared to 1 bus. Think about how much fuel would be saved if they all use the bus. Think of how little space a bus takes compared to 21 cars. More importantly, think of how much greenhouse gases we could prevent by just changing how we travel to work. A third alternative is to change how your house consumes energy. Why not try out the new solar energy for your home? You can save both your budget and the planet just by switching to renewable energy. If you cannot afford renewable energy, you can still help the planet by using electricity wisely. Switch on the lights only and only if necessary. Turn off televisions when you don’t use them anymore. Leave no appliances on standby. Switch them all off. If possible, try to have cold showers or baths instead of using electricity to warm the water up for you. Cold water can actually be healthy for you. If you own factories, then you can also help by monitoring and minimize your factory’s greenhouse gas emission. It is worth investing in eco-friendly technology because you will gain a lot of benefits in the long run. If you want to contribute even more than that, why not plant trees? There are numerous organizations dedicated to stopping global warming. Some of them plan to combat global warming by planting trees, among other things. Of course, one person acting against global warming will not work. However, you are not alone if you want to save the planet. Collectively, a human can and will halt the progression of climate change before it is too late.
In conclusion, we all need to take part in stopping global warming and attempt to regulate the climate on our planet. If global warming continues, the high temperature will kill off many species on the planet. This may potentially lead to the extinction of all life on the planet. Thankfully, we can reverse what we have done by switching to an eco-friendly way of life and industrial practices. All of us hold the key to our children’s future. Therefore, it is best that we unlock the right door for them that would lead them to a safe and bright future.