A brief definition of the term global warming is tantamount to our understanding of its effects. Global warming refers to the effect of human activities on the climate. In particular, the burning of fossil fuels and large-scale deforestation are activities that have grown enormously since the industrial revolution. Sadly, these activities have continually been emitting gases into the atmosphere causing chemical and physical reactions that lead to global warming. Emitted gases are carbon dioxide, which accounts for the largest percentage, methane, nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons. Greenhouse gases comprise carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide (Johansen 78).
A close analysis of the climate variations during the different periods is paramount to our understanding of the full climate changes because of global warming. The causes of global warming and the ways to fight global warming. Mitigation and adaptation as a way of dealing with global warming. The negative and positive effects of global warming.
The early climate patterns
To appreciate the full magnitude of global warming a look at the climate history would shed some light on the changes. A close insight into the last century, the millennium, and a million years back would reveal the contrasting climate change. Over the last 140 years, statistical data reveals that there has been a continued increase in temperature. The 1990’s period has gone into the record as being the warmest period and in particular, the year 1998 was the warmest year according to statistical records. Of particular concern is that the increase was by no means homogeneous. For the last thousand years, reconstructions of the global average surface reveal that significant variance in natural climate resulting from internal vari8ations rather than external variations. Global warming appears to be more pronounced in the 20th century than in the early periods. In the last million years, statistical data reveals that there are significant climate changes. The greenhouse gases and temperature variations are more pronounced over the two periods than in the last million years (Philander 56).
Causes of global warming
Scholars have tried to demystify the causes of global warming. Several reasons have been advanced to try to explain the causes of global warming. Human attitude towards the environment in large part is to the causes of global warming or climate change. Several greenhouse gases account for global warming and they find their way into the atmosphere in several ways. Human beings through a number of activities emit greenhouse gases. A large part of these greenhouse gases is a result of the combustion of fossil fuels in motor vehicles factory plants and electricity production. Other sources include the release of methane from landfills and agricultural activities, fertilizers that have a concentration of nitrogen that end up forming nitrous oxide, refrigeration gases, and gases used in the industrial processes, and the deforestation that reduces forest cover that would otherwise reduce carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is responsible for global warming and a host of other gases. A greater percentage is accounted by carbon dioxide. Other gases comprise a lesser percentage. The heat-trapping ability of greenhouse gases varies depending on the type of gas. It is evident that some gases trap more heat than carbon dioxide, as chlorofluorocarbons have a higher heat-trapping ability as compared to carbon dioxide. The emission of chlorofluorocarbons into the atmosphere gas destroys the ozone layer. Owing to the different concentrations of gases in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide is highly concentrated and this explains why it is the major cause of global warming.
Globally, we all play a role in the global warming processes hence concerted efforts by all inhabitants must be mobilized to try to prevent if not reduce global warming. Global cooperation in trying to reduce global warming is key to success. Solution contribution lies at the individual and state levels.
Negative effects of global warming
Global warming causes an imbalance in the ecosystem. Varied temperatures alter ecosystems causing some species to change their environment while other species simply become extinct. Factual evidence suggests that some species are in danger of becoming extinct as has been in the past. Secondary effects of global warming could influence human activities in several ways and the ecosystem in general (Johansen 98 b).
The global warming process will impact both positively and negatively. The positive effects would be favorable in a number of ways and the negative effects will be unfavorable. Climate change will cause a rise in the sea level. Subsequently, more coasts and low-lying areas will be submerged underwater. It poses a danger to communities that have inhabited such low land areas. The increased global temperature will result in the change of ecosystems. Harsh climatic conditions will force certain species out of their environment while other species will flourish under the same climatic conditions. The resultant effects of global warming such as increased water levels will not only disrupt human activities but also change the ecosystem. An unfavorable change in the ecosystem drives some species to extinction if appropriate steps and precautions are ignored. The flora and fauna in the arctic and Antarctic are exposed to a high degree of danger (Johansen 64c).
The effects of global warning on infrastructure manifest in several ways. Temperature variations increase the maintenance cost considerably. The effects are more pronounced in permafrost regions. Buckling of roads and cracks in runways illustrates the adverse effects of global warming.
The reduced forest cover manifests evidence of the effects of global warming on forests. The effects are distinct on temperate and arctic forests. Forest fires that are caused by large temperature variations have the potential of reducing forest cover. Harsh climatic conditions have rendered some species extinct. Increased diseases have also wiped out a greater majority.
There is the looming danger of the increased spread of diseases because of the global warming processes. There are favorable breeding zone and grounds for vectors that would increase in numbers. This has the effect of increasing diseases on a larger scale hence putting at risk the health of the inhabitants. A perfect example is malaria infections. The water supply stands to be compromised. The rise of sea level water results in intrusion of groundwater in some cases. This affects the quality of drinking water. The surface runoff will not be absorbed into the ground level and this further aggravates the worsened situation. Irrigation would be hard as there is limited surface runoff.
The water cycle is the fundamental component of the climate system. The water cycle takes place between the water body, the land surface and the atmosphere. Water forms a fundamental resource for humans and ecosystems. With global warming, substantial changes are bound to compromise the quality, quantity, and surface runoff. On average, some areas will become wet while others are drier. Significant changes in fluctuations inflow during the year will occur because of the decreased snow cover. Overall, the changes will serve to aggravate the worsened situation concerning the availability of water quality and quantity. The hard-hit areas will be the continental areas that experience excessive loss of soil moisture. The increased repetitiveness and intensity of extreme conditions can be attributed to global warming. The extent to which effects that result from global warming are more pronounced in developing countries because they lack the much-needed infrastructure to deal with such events.
Global warming could adversely affect agriculture and the ecosystem in several ways. Of particular concern is the effect on the availability of water, temperatures changes, and the increased concentration of carbon dioxide. High concentrations of carbon dioxide and high temperatures are favorable to plants growth but only in the initial stages of growth. Growth is recorded in the initial stages but in later stages, there is stunted growth. Higher concentrations of carbon dioxide promote favorable growth in plants during the initial stages but after this, the crops experience stunted growth and this reduces the crop yield. Crop patterns and yield are likely to be influenced by global warming. The global food supply would also be adversely affected.
Human health would be adversely affected by all the outcomes of global warming but of particular concern is the direct effect of heat. Insect-borne diseases, like malaria, would be more prevalent in humid conditions. Higher temperatures would affect human beings directly. Extreme weather conditions, high temperatures, would rapidly increase the number of deaths associated with high temperatures. Cardiovascular diseases, heat exhaustion, and respiratory problems, and a host of several complications contribute to deaths that are brought about because of global warming. Temperature variations could have positive effects and negative effects depending on the environment. In extremely cold conditions higher temperatures in hot conditions serve to accelerate heat-related deaths.
Positive effects of global warming
The positive effects of global warming only serve to accelerate this trend. It is essential to note that as much as there is the negative side of global warming there is the positive side of it. Exposure to permafrost peat bog that was formed several years ago would result in the release of methane gas into the atmosphere which, in turn, would create a source of methane gas. Hydrates that are located on the seabed have a high concentration of methane. Through the processes of global warming, these gases escape into the atmosphere.
There are two courses of action that can be undertaken-adaptation, aimed at reducing the impacts of global warming as they occur, and mitigation, which is aimed at reducing the emission of greenhouse gases. This will result in reduced global warming effects (Bily 88).
Mitigation of global warming
The mitigation efforts are aimed at reducing the severity of global warming. It calls for participation by all the concerned parties at all levels. Agriculture as a contributor to the effects of global warming can help reduce the global warming effects. Agriculture, though a small contributor to greenhouse gases is under obligation to reduce the emission of these greenhouse gases. On the other hand, agriculture is advantaged in the role it can play in greenhouse gas absorption by moving away from unsuitable agricultural practices to suitable agricultural practices. It can also reduce the concentration of greenhouse gases by increasingly producing biomass commodities that can be used as an alternative for electricity generation or as a substitute for fossil fuels. Afforestation is another means through which the effects of global warming can be reduced. Increased forest cover helps to reduce the concentration of greenhouse gases by absorbing the necessary gases.
Adaptation to global warming
Adaptation as a way of global warming response tries to reduce human vulnerability to the effects of global warming. Very few people have subscribed to the adaptation notion creating a sharp contrast in the methods of dealing with global warming effects. An argument against adaptation is that it would soften the stance on mitigations efforts. Passive acknowledgment of the dangerous effects of human activities is associated with adaptation efforts (Archer 56).
The effects and magnitude of global warming are yet to be felt in full. Human health would be affected from all perspectives but of particular concern is the direct effect of high temperatures. Increased deaths because of high temperatures are likely to be witnessed. There will also be increased respiratory diseases because of high temperatures. Agriculture contributes to global warming by increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in several ways. Fertilizers that contain nitrous oxide and poor animal practices end up contributing to the effects of global warming. Agriculture can be used to counter the effects of global warming and reduce global warming by practicing environment-friendly agriculture. Global warming has its positive attribute, however, this only serves to accelerate the effects of global warming. The permafrost peat bog is exposed in certain regions due to the effects of global warming.
Global warming is preventable if not the effects of global warming can be reduced. Mitigation and adaptation are the means available to solve the effects of global warming. Mitigation is largely concerned with reducing and or stopping the contributors to global warming. It involves the substitution of the major contributors, use of fossil fuels, poor agricultural practices, emission of greenhouse gases, to global warming with those that are Ecofriendly. Adaptation is largely concerned with reducing the severity of the effects of global warming. Compared to mitigation efforts, adaptation has not gained ground for several reasons partly because it is acknowledged as the passive acceptance of the human effects of global warming.
There are positive effects that accompany the negative effects brought about as a result of global warming. Above-average temperatures change the breeding and reproductions patterns of species and more. Forest cover is also at risk because of the effects of global warming. High temperatures cause the flourishing of certain species that could attack forests and reduce the forest cover.
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Singer, S. Fred, and Dennis T. Avery. Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2007