Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Global Warming

There has been a great deal of heated debate about global warming, which refers to the observed century-scale rise in the average temperature on the Earth's climate system. Startling evidence has come to light indicating that the greenhouse effect (that is, the natural process by which the atmosphere traps some of the Sun's energy) aggravates the climate change insofar as it has a knock-on effect on the environment. For instance, not only do global temperature and sea level rise, but extreme weather conditions, such as floods and droughts, also become more common, leading to the degeneration of ecosystems. However, the question that arises is: What are the primary causes of global warming and are there any steps to alleviate such an intensifying phenomenon?

As regards the causes of the rise in temperature over the last 150 years, they can be attributed to the greenhouse gases, which are: carbon dioxide (CO2), vapor and methane. The most catalytic one is CO2 emitted, especially by human activity during the consumption of fossil fuels (: oil, natural gas and coal), in cars (exhaust fumes) and factories. This greenhouse gas, the levels of which are twice what they were in 1850, pours into the atmosphere, where infrared solar radiation is trapped. Furthermore, the warmer the ocean is, the more water evaporates, and vapor is more effective than CO2. In addition, methane captured in the seabed and in frozen soil places like Alaska, exacerbates global warming, on the grounds that it absorbs 20 times more energy than carbon dioxide. Lastly, deforestation plays a vital role, since forests would otherwise store CO2 and release oxygen. 

Yet, it is claimed that temperatures may spiral out of control. To avert disaster, we could firstly fit carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology to every power plant utilizing fossil fuels. This, would remove carbon from the fumes so that it can be stored underground. Additionally, the government could offer city dwellers financial incentives, for instance, either provide them with grants to install solar panels and heaters, or make them tax-free. Apart from that, a campaign could be launched to persuade people to alter their behavior, encouraging them to curb their carbon footprint (ie the amount of CO2 emitted due to the consumption of fossil fuels per capita) by insulating their homes and making use of public transport, or bike. Last but not least, were the "three Rs" to be applied, that is, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, global warming would be under control. 

On balance, it is an undisputed fact that global warming poses and is going to pose one of the most pressing issues. So, sacrifices will have to be made in order to harness this mammoth problem, but this constitutes the only means of global salvation.