There are many issues that are bothering the human population nowadays, such as terrorism, war, economy, and others. However, there is no other issue that so pervades human consciousness recently than the issue on global warming. Many celebrities and international organizations are exerting efforts to build awareness around the world that there is a real danger to our planet, and that the time is ripe for all to take action.
Everyone should be concerned about global warming, especially considering the various deleterious effects it poses on life in the planet. The gravity of the situation calls upon nations, as big movers and possessors of power in large scale, to put more effort into developing new technologies to prevent further global warming. On the small scale, recent news on global warming should be enough to wake everyone from slumber and do their part in saving our environment, which is becoming more dangerous because of continued global warming.
The gravity of the current situation is shown by the fact that the second warmest global surface temperature in more than a century was recorded in 2001. Previous decades, particularly the period between 1951 and 1980, registered cooler climates. This trend of warmer climates is seen as a consequence of anthropogenic causes such as the emission of greenhouse gases (Hansen, Ruedy, Sato, and Lo 275).
Such trend is alarming and should wake people up from their inaction, because the recent calculations of temperature increase foretell the possibility of even greater temperature in the coming years (King 780). Moreover, as the facts recorded at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hilo, Hawaii tell, carbon dioxide levels consistently rise at a rate of about 2 p.p.m. per annum (King 780).
These data show a marked increase in the rate of carbon dioxide levels, that are way above recorded levels in previous warm periods (King 780). These facts also show how warm global temperature has gotten since the last century, which further confirm the realization of the greenhouse effect theory (King 780).
It is appropriate to note that the theory of climate change can be traced as far back as 1827, when a French mathematician named Fourier thought about the possibility that the earth may be absorbing the heat that should be sent back to space (King 779). At the time, Fourier built upon the observation of British scientist Tyndall that minority gases in our atmosphere, namely, carbon dioxide, methane, and water vapor, cause the greenhouse effect (King 779). This theory is fast demonstrating its reality, as shown by the above observations.
Globally, there are observed environmental changes that have become worse in time. Among these are deforestation, greenhouse gas-induced warming, loss in biodiversity, and desertification (Grimmond 83). These environmental changes are caused largely by the rapid increase in human population (Grimmond 83).
The effects of all these environmental changes are being felt both in large and small scale. The effects of these changes in small scale climate change can be seen at the urban level, wherein broader environmental changes are being felt in greater magnitude (Grimmond 83). Urban climates have changed. Among the effects of urbanization on climate are the alteration of energy and water exchanges and airflow due to surface and atmospheric changes and urban warming due to direct anthropogenic emissions of heat, pollutants and carbon dioxide (Grimmond 83).
While there are some cities that can be considered lucky, because their large spaces of irrigated greenspace provide cooler temperature, a majority of the cities experience up to a 10-degree-Celsius difference in temperature (Grimmond 83).
The materials chosen and used in the construction of buildings and other infrastructure in urban locations and other factors such as the distances between such structures all contribute to urban warming (Grimmond 86). The morphology of cities, particularly in terms of the width, height and density of the buildings therein, affect solar access in daytime and the cooling rates at night (Grimmond 83). Unfortunately, urban warming has grave implications to inhabitants, such as those relating to their well-being, health and comfort (Grimmond 86). Compared to rural environments, urban locations are warmer by an average of 1 to 3 degrees Celsius (Grimmond 83).
One of the scariest implications of urban warming is felt mostly by the poor (Grimmond 87). For example, heat waves swept all over India in 1998 and caused injuries and deaths (Grimmond 87). The same catastrophe occurred in France and Spain in 2003 (Grimmond 87).
With regard to the effect of urban warming on human comfort, there is involved a vicious cycle. The intense heat makes people uncomfortable. Thus, they would want to use airconditioning systems (Grimmond 87). The increase use of airconditioning, on the other hand, generates more heat and demands more energy through increased generation of electricity, which again would cause increased urban warming (Grimmond 87).
Indeed, this is not an unjustified fear. The increased use of airconditioning had already been observed in large continents such as Asia, Europe and North America (Grimmond 87). Such increased demand has been observed to cause amplified electricity generation (Grimmond 87). This, in turn, results in the production of more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which again leads to intensified global warming (Grimmond 87). With the continued abuse by people of the environment and the continued generation of heat, risks greater than the heat waves experienced in many countries are very likely to arise (Grimmond 87).
It may be considered that the contribution of urban development and urban warming to the global scenario is small; however, the dangers tat urban warming poses should not be ignored (Grimmond 87). Gases from urban areas, such as pollution and greenhouse gas emissions are the leading anthropogenic sources of global warming (Grimmond 87). Moreover, as discussed above, the experience of warmer climate in the cities lead to increased consumption of energy, which again causes global warming (Grimmond 87). The combinations of many factors, including those occurring in urban zones, would surely give rise to global consequences and implications (Grimmond 87).
It is important, in any effort to convince people into action, to make them understand the implications at stake (Grimmond 87). The strategies towards solving the problem of global warming cover a wide range, and any move should involve the participation of all stakeholders (Grimmond 87).
For example, in the community level, each person can do his small but significant part in mitigating global warming, by avoiding or minimizing the use of airconditioning in order to reduce consumption of energy. Reduced demand for airconditioning would lead to decreased demand in energy supply, which would lead to less production of greenhouse gases (Grimmond 87). Thus, a simple act of minimizing the comforts of the modern world could do wonders in preventing further global warming.
The threat of continued and sustained global should be enough to raise concerns among all people, because of the extreme events that we should be prepared for as a consequence of global warming (King 780). For one, global warming causes more water vapor to remain in the atmosphere, which is exactly what the greenhouse effect means (King 780). Increased water vapor is a result of increases in the level of carbon dioxide in the air, and comes alongside the increase of temperature in the seas and the earth (King 780).
Deforestation is another negative effect of global warming (King 780; Saxe, et al.). The increased temperature leads to decreased rainfall, which leads to dryer conditions and more forest fires (King 780; Saxe, et al.). Increased global heat contributes to easier catching up of large fires in the forest. In turn, deforestation again increases global warming, like a vicious cycle. Deforestation deprives the planet of vital carbon sinks, which are required to balance the global carbon budget (Saxe, et al. 389). Fortunately, this can be reversed through the planting of more trees and building more density in the forests, in order to counter the production and existence of carbon in the atmosphere (Saxe, et al. 389-390).
Global warming can also cause the loss of the Greenland ice sheet (King 780). This would cause serious problems because it could raise the sea level around the globe by approximately 7 meters over a period of about a thousand years (King 780). It could also cause enhanced retreat of glaciers in some places (King 780). Further effects of global warming can also be observed in the oceans, through increased acidity (King 780). The increase in carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere cause a corresponding increase of the same in oceans, thereby increasing their acidity (King 780). Thus, there are already observed effects on coral reefs and plankton population, while wider impact on marine life and on the food chain is yet to be observed (King 780).
To date, a documented total of 17 coral reef ecosystems have been found to be degraded around the world. This is a huge blow to the planet, since it is estimated that coral reefs provide support to ecosystems worth more than $375 billion per annum to the global economy (King 780). These terrible consequences should be enough to make everyone concerned about global warming and its deleterious effects on all aspects of life in the planet (King 780). People should be concerned about destroying life and support systems in different ecosystems, which would eventually affect human lives.
Having seen the scary possibilities that come alongside global warming, everyone should join the movement towards making this planet greener and healthier. People should be moved by stories of forest fires, destruction of ecosystems, and deaths due to heat waves, that are occurring all over the world (King 780; Saxe, et al. 389). The planet is becoming less safe with each passing day that people live in ignorance of the damage they are causing the environment. Continuous apathy and inaction could lead to more catastrophic deaths and further destruction of the planet, which possibilities should raise alarm and concern in all mankind.
Each person can definitely do his share in minimizing the anthropogenic causes of global warming. We have seen how a simple act of minimizing the consumption of airconditioning could have positive effects on the environment. It is time that each of us does our share to save our home. This is the only way that future generations could still enjoy earth as we know it.
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Hansen, J., Ruedy, R., Sato, M., and K. Lo. Global Warming Continues.
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Kellomaki, Seppo, Rouvinen, Ismo, Peltola, Heli, Strandman, Harri and Rainer Steinbrecher. Impact of global warming on the tree species composition of boreal forests in Finland and effects on emissions of isoprenoids. Global Change Biology 7 (2001): 531-544.
King, David. Climate change: the science and the policy. Journal of Applied Ecology 42 (2005): 779-783.
Saxe, Henrik, Cannell, Melvin G. R., Johnsen, Oystein, Ryan, Michael G., Vourlitis, George. Tree and forest functioning in response to global warming. New Phytologist 149 (2001): 369-400.