Whether people wish to believe it or not, global warming is happening. We all hear a lot of talk on the radio, on television and online about what global warming is and how it is affecting our planet. Still, there are people who choose to believe that it is a hoax, a money grab by political figureheads. In this essay, I hope to dissuade through the data available that not only is global warming real, but it is going to continue to cause social implications on humans, animals, and our natural habitat.
What is global warming?
Global warming is the heating of the Earth prematurely. It is caused by the change in climate due to increased levels of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide and the increased heating of the Earth’s atmosphere. Ever since the industrial revolution in the 19th century, humans have increased the levels of carbon dioxide in the oceans and air, increased the temperatures in the atmosphere, polluted and contaminated the air, water, and ground, and helped the greenhouse effect, which normally takes thousands of years to develop, speed up.
So whether humans want to admit it or not, we have been increasingly helping to destroy the planet we live on. Thanks.
Carbon dioxide is produced by all animals through breathing, and decomposing matter, like dead plants and animals. These are the normal processes that cause the greenhouse effect to happen over the space of thousands of years.
Humans are accelerating the process primarily through the burning of fossil fuels.
Fossil fuel is found below the oceans and in ground consisting of plants and animals that have died thousands of years ago and have decomposed to the point of turning to coal or oil.
We use fossil fuels to heat our homes and run our vehicles. Gasoline, propane, kerosene, electricity and diesel are all by-products of fossil fuels. Arguably, we feel we need these products to survive in today’s standard of living, however, to what extent? How much do we waste by leaving the television on for our dogs all day while we are at work or leaving our computers on to download a program or game that will only take a couple of hours while we go do something else for the day or night? How many mechanical “toys” do we need to have fun while we continue to pollute the planet with the exhaust?
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against people owning snowmobiles or dirt bikes, or whatever, but surely you can understand the amount of pollution that is being put into the air by those types of vehicles. Before you start sending me hate mail, take a look at how the fuel is burned. Oil is mixed with the gasoline; it is the oil that burns the gas causing the higher pollutants and smells.
Beyond fossil fuels, there are other reasons for global warming. Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is produced by agricultural over-development and the use of herbicides and pesticides, among other things. Synthetic fertilisers are the largest contributor to the production of nitrous oxide which is produced by nitrogen mixed with oxygen (4). Using fertilisers that have a “nitrogen base” allows farmers to plant, year after year, enough crops to try to keep up with demand as global population increases. The problem is that prolonged use of synthetic fertilisers contributes largely to the increased amount of nitrous oxide released into the atmosphere. Nitrous oxide is nitrogen based. In the gas form, plants and animals cannot utilise its benefits, therefore, it remains in the atmosphere, slowly elevating to the ozone layer where it decays this protective barrier between the Earth and the Sun.
Methane is a natural gas that can be heated by the sun if it is exposed and is the second largest contributor of the greenhouse effect. Since methane is highly potent, it is important to recognise it to be just as dangerous as carbon dioxide. The largest contributor of methane is the gas and oil companies who willingly release it into the atmosphere (billions of dollars of energy that could be used to heat homes and fuel vehicles). Although it took a study in 2012 by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) for the hazard of methane to become apparent, it is now on the front stage, up there with carbon dioxide. Governments are trying to curb the effects now and companies are encouraged to find innovative ways to make use of a by-product that can be harnessed for human use. As an after note, it is worth mentioning that humans and animals give off methane gases as well in waste products, faeces and urine; there are also plans to do more with waste materials as well.
Ever since the boom of industrialisation in the late 1800’s, temperatures have been on the rise globally. According to Live Science, temperatures are set to increase between two degrees Celsius all the way up to eleven degrees over the next century. What this means is that as temperatures continue to rise on a melt. Warmer winters in Canada with contrasting severe ones alternatively, give us warning of what is to come. The fact that snow is creeping as far south as Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina (re: the storm of January 2014) must help people to see the reality of the situation. These are areas unaccustomed to snow. The fact that snow is falling in the southern States indicates a high probability of the polar ice sheets melting.
In Europe, increases in temperatures have led to droughts and desertification (fertile lands that have become deserts). It is either too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter as well as both being randomly unpredictable with plants, animals, and humans having a difficult time adapting.
A recent study by Brian Kahn indicates that the droughts were a “contributing factor” in the civil war in Syria. People suffered five years of drought that tore apart families and left farmers ill-equipped to feed the hunger.
A similar situation occurred in the United States. In February of this year (2017), Sacramento, California, after five years of drought, experienced the worst catastrophic torrential downpour, causing severe damage to the California Reservoir. Speculation to the cause of the disaster arises from the five-year drought and lack of repair to cracks ensuing from the drought.
Droughts for long periods of time, then sudden torrential downpours, offer insufficient amounts of fresh water leading to water shortages that will affect everyone globally, primarily infants, the elderly as well as the homeless and poor. Agriculture also suffers because fertile ground dries up and erodes quickly.
Hydroelectric power, the largest supplier of electricity in Europe, will be affected by inadequate amounts of water via rivers, lakes, and rain. A decrease in water supplied to homes in both rural and urban settings will cause issues for humans as well as animals. Drinking water will become a valuable commodity if it continues to deplete in availability.
Sea levels have risen 15-20 centimeters (6-8 inches) over the past 100 years according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. “The rise will come from thermal expansion of the ocean and from melting glaciers and ice sheets. Twenty inches is no small amount — it could have a big effect on coastal cities, especially during storms.”
Basically, as the earth warms, it causes things like melting glaciers, primarily in the Artic, rainstorms, drought, tidal waves, hurricanes, tornadoes, sandstorms, deserts to form where we have cut down the primary areas of forestry so that the ground can erode faster (also releasing nitrogen in the form of nitrous oxide).
Still, how does this affect people? Really, lots of rain or some dry spells, a bit of wave, tornadoes, and hurricanes (which are naturally occurring anyway), how can this be bad? Coastal areas, globally, are already experiencing torrential downpours thanks to waves that are horrendously high. The effects of such hurricanes can be felt kilometers away and for several days after the hurricane has dissipated. In winter, snow storms act quite similar. A storm may sweep from the United States and reach Canada a day or two later, only to be driven back with higher velocity and snow in areas that are not accustomed to it.
With droughts, many countries around the globe have been facing hardship from a lack of precipitation in the area for many years. In the 1920’s and 1930’s, there were droughts so severe that they affected the stock market globally. If you were not alive back then, which most of us weren’t, it is easy to say that it won’t happen again. What if it does? What if food and fresh water become so scarce that we sink into another depression caused by environmental issues that people are ignoring? Food and fresh water are already depleting in availability. Ever wonder why we now have to pay for water? How about water meters that are now mandatory in most areas of Canada?
The fact is, the climate is changing more rapidly because of human interventions. Instead of thinking this is a bad thing (which it is) or passing the blame off on someone else, like government, or people that do not recycle, we need to take a proactive stance on the situation.
The Green House Effect is causing an escalation in Global Warming and humans, all humans are the cause.
What are you going to do about it?