Debates have been ongoing for the last several years on whether man is responsible for the rise in the earth’s temperature. The consensus among scientists is that the warmer temperatures occurring in the last 50 years are definitely due to human activity. Global warming is happening and it is an urgent issue that can no longer be ignored.
The accumulation of greenhouse gases is building at an alarming rate. The United States, China and India are the top producers of carbon emissions in the world. Yet, despite the fact that they agree with the rest of the world that these emissions need to be cut, they don’t want to be legally bound to it. Many Americans do not believe that people are responsible for the rise in greenhouse gases or do not think it will directly impact them.
What is the greenhouse gas effect? This is where carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide as well as water vapor are released into the earth’s atmosphere. The gases trap the solar heat, causing a rise in the earth’s temperature. Under normal circumstances, the greenhouse effect is necessary to provide heat and warmth to the earth; otherwise all living things could not survive. Pollution has magnified the amount of these gases in the air. Levels are the highest in 650,000 years.
How does this impact you? Phytoplankton is responsible for 50% of the world’s photosynthesis and it consumes carbon dioxide and creates massive amounts of oxygen. Our world could not exist if it weren’t for these little microscopic organisms. It also provides the key food for the entire marine life food web. There seems to be a link between the warming of the oceans and the reduction of plankton being seen by scientists (Connor,2010). If there were massive die offs, the effects would not only be devastating to sea life but to all life on the planet.
Warmer water and melting glaciers are causing a rise in the level of the oceans. Certain islands and coastal regions are now in jeopardy of being returned to the sea. Temperature increases that normally have taken thousands of years to occur, are now taking only decades. Animals just cannot adapt to these changes quickly and the results could be extinction. Also there have been detrimental effects of global warming with the extreme weather patterns. Turn on a TV and immediately you will hear of some hurricane, monsoon or tsunami catastrophe. Inland, there have been problems with droughts and wildfires wreaking havoc on communities.
Contributors to global warming are the burning of fossil fuels, use of electricity and the massive deforestation of land (“Causes of Global Warming,”n.d.). Every time you drive your car, flip on a light switch, and heat or cool your house, you are emitting more greenhouse gases into the air. Trees also convert carbon dioxide to oxygen. With the clearing of land, there are fewer trees to counteract the effects of climate change.
Ways to prevent more global warming is to reduce the number of vehicles on the road. Drive less or carpool when you can. Make energy-efficient smaller vehicles. Develop energy alternatives and reduce the dependence on fossil fuels. Cutting back on electricity usage, by unplugging electronics, appliances, and raising the thermostat in summer and lowering in winter can help a lot. Also planting more trees and being prudent about replacing trees that are cut down will be beneficial. The United States will need to reduce carbon emissions 20% by 2050 if they have any hope of turning this situation around.
It will take a significant effort on each person’s part to curb greenhouse emissions. Changes will need to be implemented in the home, at work and with the products bought. Undoubtedly, lifestyles will be altered and sacrifices will have to be made. It truly will take a collective effort by all of humanity to have an impact. If you knew the survival of the world was in your hands, would you not do everything possible to stop or delay global warming?
Causes of Global Warming.(n.d.). Retrieved August 20,2010 from Environment.Nationalgeographic.com/Environment/Global-Warming/Gw-Causes.
Connor,S.(2010, July 29) The dead sea:Global warming blamed for 40% decline in the ocean’s phytoplankton. Retrieved from Independent.Co.Uk/Environment/Climate-Change/The-Dead-Sea-Global-Warming-Blamed-for-40-per-cent-Decline-in-the-Oceans-Phytoplankton-2038074.html.