The earth keeps warm through the greenhouse effect which is a natural process the helps in maintaining global temperature at reasonable level. It traps and keeps heat from the sun within the atmosphere and thus enabling life process that would have otherwise been impossible. The atmosphere protects the planet from the harsh ultraviolet rays from the sun (Knight 32). By trapping the earth’s warmth, it keeps rivers and oceans from freezing.
Solar radiation from the sun usually passed through the clear atmosphere to the earth’s surface where by most of it absorbed by the earth surface is and warms it up there and then. Some of the solar radiation is reflected by the earth’s surface and the atmosphere, infrared radiation is then emitted from the earth’s surface, some of which passes through the atmosphere while some is absorbed by the green house gases and re-emitted in all directions by the green house gases molecules (Kantor 20). The effect of this is to heat the global surface and lower atmosphere. Without this process the earths temperatures would have been bellow what it is presently. This would have made life on earth very impossible.
However, through anthropogenic activities there has been an increase in the greenhouse especially carbon dioxide in the atmosphere thus an increase in the greenhouse effect. The increased greenhouse effect has lead to the entrapment of a lot of heat within the atmosphere thus global warming. These green house gases include water vapor, carbon dioxides, nitrogen oxides, methane and Chloro Floro carbons (Ethan 401).
Carbon oxides are normally released into the atmosphere by the combustion of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas which releases smoke into the atmosphere. Carbon oxides are normally part of the smoke. Nitrogen oxides are normally released to the atmosphere by industrial processes like the manufacture of ammonia and nitric acid. Chloro Floro carbons are also a product of various industrial processes. Deforestation and destruction of vegetation also contributed greatly to the increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (Anderson 1560). Vegetation act as carbon sinks. In the absence of this vegetation carbon dioxide accumulation in the atmosphere ends up contributing to global warming.
In the beginning, most people overlooked the issue as just other scientists out bust, but now the reality is beginning to sink. According to the New York times, the evidence has been accumulating and the faster melting of ice on green land has not escaped the public eye although the aspect of what the future holds are still hazy.
Effects on rainfall
Global warming has also has numerous effects on rainfall. The effects have temporal and spatial variations. They vary in form and magnitude from place to place. The rainfall patterns are likely to be altered by the high temperatures being experienced globally. Already, some changes have been experienced worldwide through the change of the length and the timing of long rains seasons and short rains seasons. Some areas which used to receive a lot of rain now are experiencing reduced rains which have lead to encroachment of desert like conditions in some of these areas (Anderson 1560). There are frequent and prolonged droughts famines.
Other areas, which used to receive little or no rainfall, are now experiencing increased rainfall. The increase in rainfall has had adverse effects in some of these areas for example the instance of el-Niño rains and their frequency which has led to flooding in many parts of the world thus loss of property and life. The prediction of seasonal rainfall variation has now become truly difficult.
Effects on agriculture
Global warming has great impact on global climate. It encourages global climate change. Agricultural productivity is very sensitive to climatic changes. Thus global warming affects agriculture through the effects of climate change which has numerous impacts to agriculture. These impacts vary in magnitude and in form from place to place, and while they severely prohibit agriculture in many places they also facilitate improvement of agriculture in other areas (George 571). For instance in areas where global warming leads to an increase in rainfall there will be an increase in the productivity of the agricultural lands in such areas. Crops that require a lot of water may perform well. The high warmth may also encourage early maturity of some crops thus enhancing agriculture.
In some cases such high temperatures may hinder growth and maturity of some vegetation and thus may lead to extinction of some crops. Areas like Indonesia where the main crop is rice to increased intensities of El-Nino. The new increased temperatures and dry conditions in some places may encourage growing of drought resistant crops such as sorghum and wheat. Agriculturalists will also have to deal with new types of weeds and pests. There will also be new crop and animal diseases. For instance an epidemic of stem rust is currently spreading in Africa and Asia. The virulent disease can easily destroyed most of the world’s wheat crops and hence causing starvation of millions of people. Some areas may also experience huge storms which may increase soil erosion and leaching of nutrients from the soil.
Water logging condition may also be experience in some areas. This condition reduces the soil pH thus hindering growth of some crops because some crops can not perform properly under such reduced pH levels. Global warming normally accompanies or is accompanied by high concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is one of the photosynthesis raw materials thus the high concentration of the gas in the atmosphere may result in to an increase in the rate of photosynthesis which may translate to increased crop performance. This means that the high amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may facilitate prosperity of agriculture.
The farmers may also be overwhelmed by the changes they will have to make either in terms of planting seasons or in terms of change of the type of crops to be grown as a result of new seasons (Macaluso).The change may call for scientific research in order to develop crop varieties that may perform well within the new seasons.
Effects on food security
Food security refers to the availability of food and the ability of people to access the food. In the past decade there have been incidences of famine in the world the most hit places being southern Sudan during the sahelian famine (Kantor 22). The other places that have experienced famines due to droughts and climatic conditions include northern Kenya and Ethiopia. The world population is on a rapid increase which calls for a rapid mean of food production. However with the occurrence of global warming, ensuring food security is still a far fetched dream
Global warming threatens food security i.e. how much food is produced. Global warming and global climate change may compromise food availability through various means. Most of the global warming effects interfere with agriculture and the effects are then spread to food availability and security, (Michael 240). Agriculture is the greatest source of food, thus anything that affects agriculture tempers with food security.
The effects of global warming that impact positively on agriculture will most certainly have a positive effect food security while those that affect agriculture negatively will also certainly affect food security negatively.
An increase in temperature may lead to early maturity of some crops due to reduced growing season. This will ensure food security since much less time is taken to produce the food. The increase in the amount of rainfall in areas that used to receive little amounts of rainfall will mean that these places mill now have reliable rainfall. This will support agricultural production in such an area thus ensuring food security to that particular area. However these are just a few isolated cases that may not help in meeting global food demand. This means that the food security world wide may be compromised. Global warming is predicted to lessen the production of maize which is the third largest most vital crop in the world.
A recent report published in journal of “Global Environmental Change” warned of a 10 percent drop in the production of maize in the developing countries over the next 50 years. The total yearly reduction could reach a mean of 10 million ton which is enough grain to feed 140 million people. Maize producing countries such as Nigeria, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico and Tanzania are estimated to lose between 20 and 25 percent of the production. The poor countries of sub-Sahara Africa will find it difficult to cope with drought and the impact on rural economy. This can be alleviated through development of new varieties that are drought resistant. However research is very expensive and requires great cooperation to produce desirable results.
Third world countries in Asia and Africa seem to bear the greatest burden (Nelson 654). The world underfed population remains stubbornly high at over 800 million; with Asia owning 60 percent of the total number while Africa has a quarter (Hose).
“The earth’s climate has been unstable for the past 400 000 years with very significant temperature changes ranging from a warm climate to an ice age in as rapidly as few decades” (Ford). Such changes suggest that the climate is sensitive to internal or external climate forcings and feedbacks. According to Temin (169) “the temperature though has been less variable during the last 10 000 years. In handling global warming it is worth noting the warming patterns”. It is also worth noting other very important aspect associated with global warming which is global climate change (Patricia 372).
This change is likely to cause a lot of negative effects among them being increased human and animal diseases, destruction of wildlife and loss of biodiversity, destruction of forests, rising of the sea level which is likely to submerge coasts and island states. Already some animals have gone extinct in the past while some natural forests have been totally destroyed (Steven 40). This further echoes the fact that global warming and global climate change should be regulated at all costs.
One very important issue to target in the quest to reduce global warming is atmospheric carbon dioxide. First, the atmospheric carbon dioxide can be reduced through encouraging use of safe fuels that do not produce a lot o carbon dioxide. Secondly, the use of appropriate technology that does not release the gas in to the atmosphere should be encouraged (Ford 2005). Third, increasing vegetation cover, for example planting forests. Forest act as carbon dioxide sinks and will this help in reducing the gas from the atmosphere by taking it in for photosynthesis. Other method that can be used to reduce the gas from the atmosphere include use of economic tools such as carbon tax and carbon emission trading.
World nations came together and signed the Kyoto protocol agreeing to reduce carbon emissions within their boundaries (Ethan 401). They set target which were to be achieved by all the signatories.
All this interventions can only be successful of great discipline and cooperation is observed. The deserters faces mankind and it is wise to act on it risk more conditions including extinction. According to the new York times on 2nd June 2008, “most powerful cooperate leaders in America have been meeting with leading environmental groups in a conference room downtown in Washington for over two years to work on proposal for a national policy to limit carbon emissions “(Zachary). However such policies can only succeed if there is the necessary political will and maximum cooperation from all those affected by the policy.
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