Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Environmental issue

Abstract Global warming is the rise of temperature in the air near the surface of the earth as a result of the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These gases are as a result for human activity such as burning of fossil fuel and deforestation. Global warming has adverse effects on plants, animals and human beings as a result of many changes in the climate, land and water bodies caused by global warming. There have been various national and international measures taken in the fight of global warming. The paper discusses these aspects of global warming and finally gives some recommendations. Global warming Global warming refers to the rise in the average temperature of the air near the surface of the earth and the oceans. Global warming as an environmental issue arose in the 20th century and is still continuing. As per the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007, the average temperature rose by 0.74 ± 0.18 °C during the past century. Most of the increase in the global surface as been as a result of increased levels of greenhouse gases. These gases are caused by human activities such as deforestation and burning of fossil fuels. It is also argued in the Fourth Assessment Report that the temperatures are likely to increase a further 1.1 to 6.4 °C in the current century (Hansen, 2002). There is a global consensus among scientists that global warming is a reality and that it is caused by human activities. This discovery is supported by the national science academies in all the developed countries and is not dismissed by any research organization either nationally or internationally. As per the report of a latest Gallup poll, individuals in different parts of the world are in support of the fact that global warming is as a result of human activities as opposed to natural causes. Despite the fact that there are greenhouse gases naturally in the atmosphere, these gases are available at levels that are beneficial to the environment and survival. Burning of fossil fuel and deforestation increases the level of these gases in the atmosphere to a dangerous level that leads to global warming (Weart, 2008). The effects of global warming are felt in all parts of the world. Global warming will result to rise in sea levels. With the rise in the sea levels, there will be water covering different low land islands. This causes a problem to plants, animals and human beings who inhabit the islands. The water covering the plants causes most of them to die. After the plants are dead, animals loose a supply of food and their habitation. Despite the fact that animals have a greater ability to adapt to hard environments as compared to plants, many of them may also die. When these two are dead, human beings loose both of them as a source of food. Their homes may also be lost. They might as a result be forced to flee the area or else they die (Weart, 2008). Global warming will alter the patterns and amount of precipitation. It has also been connected with acid rain. This rain destroys everything that it rains on. It has also been associated with wild fires that are destroying forests. There is likelihood of expanding of the subtropical deserts as a result, which is harmful to life. Global warming is expected to be on the highest in the Arctic and would be linked with ongoing retreating of glaciers, sea ice and permafrost. Long-term effects of global warming will include more recurrent incidence of extreme weather conditions like heat waves, droughts, and flooding. There is the possibility of species becoming extinct as a result of the changes in temperature. There will also be an effect on agriculture as a result of the extreme weather conditions. With the effects in agriculture, life is going to become hard for some communities especially those that rely on it for a livelihood. Global warming is coming with different diseases that are affecting many people. The rise in temperature will vary from county to country around the world. Nevertheless, the nature of these changes cannot be ascertained (Hansen, 2002). Solutions implemented There have been efforts to fight global warming from all parts of the globe and among individuals. The efforts to reduce or stop global warming were initiated in the past century. One of the global efforts that were initiated towards the end of the century was the Kyoto Protocol. This refers to a set of rules to the united nations Convention on Climate Change initiated in 1997 with the objective of fighting global warming. Despite the fact that the protocol was initiated in 1997, it entered into force in the year 2005 (Weart, 2008). More nations have been sighing and ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, with the number coming up to 191 states in 2010 (Prins et. al, 2010). Under this agreement, nations have committed themselves to reducing the four major greenhouse gases. These gases are carbon dioxide, methane, sulfur hexafluoride and nitrous oxide. They are committed to reduce hydroflourocarbons and perflourocarbons produced by these countries. All the countries that are members of this convention have given universal commitments. Annex 1 nations agreed to lower their total emissions of greenhouse gases by 5.2 percent from the level it was in 1990. The protocol gives freedom for countries to choose the strategies towards achievement of this. Some of the mechanisms that can be used include “emissions trading, the clean development mechanism (CDM) and joint implementation to allow Annex 1 countries to meet their GHG emissions limitations by purchasing GHG emission reductions credits from elsewhere, through financial exchanges projects that reduce emissions in non-Annex I countries, from other Annex I countries, or from annex I countries with excess allowances” (Prins et. al, 2010: 23). With commitment from all countries around the world, the Kyoto Protocol seems to be an effective way of fighting global warming. A number of environmentalists have supported the agreement in the view that it is expected that future commitments to the reduction of emissions may come with a demand for serious measures. The agreement is a small but crucial step towards the solution of global warming. The World Bank reported that the protocol had a slight effect in fighting global warming as per the year 2010. Despite the fact that the agreement was initiated in 1997, by the year 2005, the emissions had gone up to 24 percent. There is also very limited financial support to the developing nations in assisting them to reduce emission and commit to climate change (Prins et. al, 2010). The government is putting a lot of effort to help reduce global warming. One of the efforts made by the government was the passing and implementing the Clean Air Act to ensure fewer emissions. This act requires companies to manufacture products that are less harmful to the environment. There is a part of this law that states that one should not put a particular amount of pollutants in the atmosphere. There were products such as hairsprays that had this problem. Production and use of these products emitted a lot of volatile organic compounds, O-zone destroying compounds and related gases into the atmosphere. Currently the law has required that all these products have a label indicating their effects to the environment. The law has also required car-manufacturing firms to change some of the items inside a car. Motor vehicles are known to be one of the chief polluting factors. They produce more than 50 percent of the smoke worldwide. Many of the things that cars require to start and keep moving produce a lot of pollution. Gasoline is a fossil fuel that produces a lot of greenhouse gases when it is burned (Prins et. al, 2010). One of the solutions that individuals have sought in the efforts to deal with global warming is carpooling. This is driving together if you are ended to the same place instead of taking separate cars. This minimizes the emissions put into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuel used by cars. The other things that people have been encouraged to do is stop leaving items such as TV, computer and the lights turned on. People are spending more time outdoors which means they are most of the times away from the television and light. They might not know, but this is a great help towards fighting global warming (Hansen, 2002). Many people have realized the benefit of riding buses, walking and riding bikes as a way of reducing global warming. Many people have been motivated to carry out tree planting exercises. This is due to the fact that planting trees helps in lowering the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Recycling has also been encouraged as a way of dealing with global warming. When there is recycling, less trash is thrown out and this means that less will be burnt. People have also been encouraged to be careful on what they purchase. There are different products that are manufactured without a lot of impact to the environment. With limiting human activities that emit more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, both individuals and the community are involved in reducing global warming. Where everyone takes the responsibility of reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere there is the possibility of gaining a lot in the fight against global warming (Prins et. al, 2010). Recommendations The only way to stop global warming is to stop the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It is not possible for the greenhouse gases to be stopped at once, in a day, a month or even a year. Governments around the world should come up with a mitigation policy that will help in reducing the amount of future changes in climate. These will entail the actions that lower emissions of greenhouse gases and improve the ability of carbon sinks to absorb greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (Hansen, 2002). Countries around the world should aim at using cleaner and less polluting technologies. This will ensure that the mitigation policy is working in every part of the world. This could also results to a considerable reduction in carbon emissions. This policy include more generation and use of renewable energy such as wind energy and increased energy efficiency. With the development in technology, it is possible for these ends to be met. Regardless the fact that fossil fuel is likely to be used into the future, technologies should be developed for carbon capture and storage. Geoengineering is another technology that should be considered (Prins et. al, 2010). This is the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It can also involve blocking of incoming sunlight. In case this technology can be successfully developed, there is the possibility of receiving global acceptance and governmental support. This is due to the fact that it seems to be the most effective one (Weart, 2008). People need to be educated on the dangers they put into the environment and ultimately without their knowledge. In education, the community should involve children and teach them on how to be responsible. A small child might not be able to create and implement a law, but he or she can play a part by maybe, not watching the television or playing video games for long hours. People need to know of their acts that increase global warming and how to stop them (Hansen, 2002). Governments need to pass and implement laws such as the Clean Air Act in order to support the mitigation policy. Without help from the government, global warming cannot be fought successfully. Government involvement through legislations will ensure that every person and organization is involved in the process of fighting global warming. These efforts will obviously be expensive due to the use of sophisticated technologies, but in the long run it will be for the economic benefit of the society. Governments should commit funds towards the efforts to fight global warming. Additionally efforts that do not require a lot of funds like tree planting should be carried out extensively (Hansen, 2002). References: Hansen, J. (2002). Climate. Journal of Geophysical Research 107 (D18): 4347. Prins, G. et. al (May 2010). The Hartwell Paper - A new direction for climate policy after the crash of 2009. London School of Economics. Weart, S. (2008). The Carbon Dioxide Greenhouse Effect: The Discovery of Global Warming, American Institute of Physics.