[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he earth is the only living and breathing planet in our solar system. Its climate usually remains pretty much the same for centuries if it is left to itself. However, the earth and its climate are not being left alone. The very actions of mankind are making them warmer and hotter than ever before. This noticeably slow but extremely significant increase in the average temperature of the earths atmosphere is called global warming.
“Speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee.” Bible, Job 12.8
Global surface temperature increased nearly 1.33 degree Fahrenheit during the 100 years ending in 2005. With the passage of time, the rate of increase in temperature is speeding up. Climate model projections indicate that global surface temperature will likely rise further 2.0 to 11.5 Fahrenheit scale during the twenty first century.
“Nature goes her own way, and all that to us seems an exception is really according to order.” Goethe
The heat trapping blanket of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere causes global temperatures to rise. The major greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and sulfur hexafluoride which are contributing to climate change. Much of the problem is attributed to burning fossils fuels (coal, oil and gas) and deforestation. These fuels contain carbon. Since the early 1800s, the amount of carbon dioxide in the earths atmosphere has increased by nearly 30%.
What is the greenhouse effect?
As people burn more fossil fuels for energy, they add more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide gas traps solar heat in the atmosphere in the same way as glass traps solar heat in a sunroom or a greenhouse. For this reason, carbon is mostly considered as an extremely harmful Greenhouse Gas.
A greenhouse gas is a gas in an atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiant energy within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect.
The greenhouse effect occurs when the greenhouse gases trap the heat from the sun and keep it close to the earth. Anyone who has parked his car in the sunshine for a few hours on a summer day has experienced something like the greenhouse effect. The Sun pours through the glass windows and heats up the inside of the car. But the glass does not let the heat back out again. The heat cannot escape because the interior of the car is closed from all sides. This is similar to what is happening to the earth.
Warming signs of Global Warming
Many indications of global warming have been occurring with more and more frequency:
- Mountain glaciers have retreated worldwide in the last few decades.
- Ice caps in the Arctic and Antarctic are thinning and melting rapidly, contributing to rising sea levels.
- Sea level has risen about four to ten inches in the last century.
- Precipitation has increased at higher latitudes and decreased in the tropics.
- Intense rainstorms and snowstorms have become frequent in the near past.
- The number of intense cyclones and hurricanes has been increasing in recent years.
- The subtropical desert regions have expanded considerably.
- Flood, earthquakes and drought have become more frequent and more Severe.
- Many species of the birds have started laying their eggs earlier than their due time.
- In places, oak trees along with some other trees are coming into leaf early in response to increasing temperature during January to March.
- The population of the sea birds like penguin has declined by 33 percent in response to declines in their winter sea ice habitat.
- Summer days without snow in Alaska have increased from 80 to more than 100 in the 1990s.
- The annual melt season in Antarctic has increased by 2 to 3 weeks injust the past 20 years.
“Should We allow environment. deterioration to continue, mans fate may be worse than extinction.” Ros S. Boster
The Asian region is also being affected seriously by global warming. Rapid population growth and development in countries like China, India, Japan and Pakistan are putting tremendous pressure on natural ecosystem . It is surely leading to a rapid rise in the release of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Tibet, Nepal, India, Taiwan, Afghanistan, Mongolia and Iran are faced with either the longest and worst drought or the lowest rainfall or the high rate of temperature rise. In Indonesia and Russia, the repeated wildfires have threatened the habitat of many endangered species of animals and birds. The countries like Korea, China and Bangladesh are being badly hit by heavy rains and flooding due to global Warming.
There are many contributing factors that lead to ecological imbalance and environmental changes
Firstly, the greenhouse gases that cause global warming come from many sources, but the main source is mankind. We use coal, oil and natural gas without being aware of the fact that they release carbon dioxide, the most important greenhouse gas. Secondly, deforestation also contributes greatly to global warming. The loss of forest cover has resulted in an unstable rainfall pattern and adverse temperature increase. Trees and other plants use carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. When trees are cut down for development and agriculture purposes, they cant use up the carbon dioxide in the air, rather they start releasing it when they decay or are burned.
“God almighty first planted a garden.” Francis Bacon
Thirdly,the phenomenon of the ozone hole has also contributed to global warming. The ozone layer surrounds the atmosphere of the earth and protects us from solar radiations. It protects the earth from over-heating. But the unfortunate hole in the ozone now allows the harmful ultraviolet rays to fall on the surface of the earth and make it warm like never before.
“We wont have a society if we destroy the environment.” Margaret Mead
We must conclude by stating that global warming is the most serious issue to be addressed by the masses, the scientists and politicians in the interest of our long-term survival and the health of our planet.[highlight color=”orange”]Fourthly,[/highlight] the dumping of nuclear waste, nuclear tests and frightful wars have also affected the climate in an adverse manner. Even if we use nuclear power for peaceful purposes, the results would be highly detrimental to the earth’s atmosphere at large.
“A nation without the means of reform is without means of survival.” Edmund Burke
Fifthly, fertilizers and other chemicals release nitrous oxide which is also one the causes of global warming. Sixthly, rice paddies, cattle, coal mines, gas pipelines and landfills produce methane which is another greenhouse gas. It also causes about 30% as much warming as carbon dioxide.
“Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to foretell. He will end by destroying the earth.” Albert Schweitzer