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Global Warming: Causes, Effects and Policies

Paper Type: Free Assignment Study Level: University / Undergraduate
Wordcount: 3820 words Published: 15th May 2019

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Global warming has become one of the major problems in the continent today. The scientist has been researching for many decades about global warming and possible solutions which has been difficult for the world to implement because, human beings are the source of the problem. There are two major causes of global warming which includes, natural causes and anthropogenic. According to anthropogenic theory, the use of fossil fuel by a human being has resulted to generation and release of “a large amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere (Cazenave 1255)”. Too much CO2 is the major cause of greenhouse effect because it creates a layer that prevents heat from escaping into space which helps to cool the earth.

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The natural theory in the other hands, perceive global warming as being caused by changes and peaks that the earth goes through. Therefore, they refer this period to a peak of warm temperatures which it will end one day even though it does not explain when the peak will end. The natural theory attempt to answer “to what extent is the warming? Has this phenomenon happened before? Could the excess in greenhouse gases be a symptom of climate change?” (Lau 34). For instance, since the revolution of industries, the quantity of “carbon dioxide” being released to the atmosphere has gone up by 30%. There are millions of industries coming up every year which contributes to increasing carbon dioxide in the air. The global warming is causing the polar ice to shrink and the amount of rainfall that is expected every year is decreasing. A study that was conducted by Sam Dewdney indicated there has been an increase of greenhouse gases since the time of industrial revolution.

Global warming is a detrimental issue that our environment has been faced with. Some people feel as if humans cause global warming, some feel it is a naturally occurring phenomenon and in fact, some do not believe in the concept of warming and ignore the fact that it exists. Regardless of one’s opinion whether or not global warming exists, facts show that global warming does exist due to the changes that are taking place in our environment. Global warming’s causes and effects are a direct contributor to today’s controversies. Most people have heard the term “global warming,” but lack education on what it is. “Global warming” can be defined as, “the increase of Earth’s average surface temperature due to the effect of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels or from deforestation, which trap heat that would otherwise escape from Earth (Huber 32)”. One can compare global warming’s activities to those of a greenhouse. Greenhouses capture heat for plants during the cold winter months. This effect is commonly regarded as the “greenhouse effect.” As a result of this, our environment is constantly changing at a rapid pace, and it is only getting worse.

Global warming is the most important issue because it will affect everyone’s lives, those currently living and those not yet born and therefore have to change their way of life to change the condition. This change could be as simple as finding alternate energy supplies that won’t harm the environment, or in a worse case, it could be as extreme as people having to move to a new planet or anything in between. In the worst-case scenario, people have nowhere to go, and the earth becomes uninhabitable, which could cause the human race to become extinct. Global warming is currently starting to change people’s lives. This can be seen in the first chapter (“Meltdown”), written by Bill Mckibben, of the book What Matters by David Cohen. In his chapter, Mckibben lists about five or six the natural disasters that have happened just in America recently as a result of the changing climate (Melillo 841). Some of the examples he uses are hurricane Katrina and the massive flooding of the Mississippi River.

According to many scientists and researchers, global warming is a real threat to humanity and if we all do not begin to fix the problem over time, humanity will probably no longer exist. Many people believe “global warming” need to be looked into, but some don’t see the need to waste resources on global warming since they believe it’s just another weather pattern. Then there are others that know global warming is a real threat but due to the finances that fossil fuel brings they are not interested in any change that will cause them to lose their financial advantage if we eliminate fossil fuels and move to cleaner forms of energy.

Human activity has impacted global warming in many ways. One of the main ways we impact global warming is by burning fossil fuels. Consuming large amounts of fossil fuel means we are generating more carbon dioxide and other gasses that affect the earth. A few examples of activity we perform using fossil fuel is driving cars, boats, planes and anything else that needs fuel. Other things that burn fossil fuel is commercial buildings, power plants, schools, and our homes. Another human activity that plays a part into global warming is the destruction of forests around the world, an action which this is referred to as deforestation; all the trees are chopped down to create more land to build on, planting crops, fuel, and household items. As stated by “National Geographic, Trees also play a critical role in absorbing the greenhouse gases that fuel global warming. Fewer forests means larger amounts of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere—and increased speed and severity of global warming”. One environmental problem “related to global warming that experts expect to occur in coming decades are” rising temperatures that have the potential to be dangerous to people, animals, and the earth (Jackson and Jenkins 67). The solution need to be found by combined efforts by the whole continents. For example, there has been increased pressure from environmentalist on the reduction of toxic gases, especially from fuel-powered cars, to reduce greenhouse effect since it causes global warming, use of electric car can be one of the best solution of reducing amount of carbon dioxide emitted by fuel-driven cars.  This pressure will definitely force people to choose electric cars since they do not harm the environment much. The governments in the world should encourage use of electric vehicles as a measure to reduce the extent of gas emission and air pollution.

For a long time, climate change has posed great problems to the global societies. The increased risk of famine taking place, destruction of infrastructures and houses and increased cases of social violence due to gradual changes in the ecosystem and extreme weather events (Heffron pg. 1). To curb these challenges from extending further or taking place in the future, global bodies and international governments have joined hands to fight against cases connected to global warming. As climatic change is a transnational event, the states of the United States are relying on the Intergovernmental Organizations to work together to address climate security challenges. These organizations include “NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), European Union (EU) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP)” (UNFCCC pg. 1-3). Similarly, the general body of the United Nations organization has taken the issue of climatic change with a lot of seriousness and each country which is part of the organization is playing its part in protecting its environment from destruction and pollution which are some of the factors that encourage or rather bring about global warming.

            The global climate has always experienced changes, but unfortunately, the changes are negative and are making the earth an unbearable place for humans to live in. Some of these climate changes are influenced by natural factors while others are facilitated by human activities such as deforestation, and atmospheric emissions which originate from industries and transport sectors that release untreated gases to the atmosphere which has resulted to higher concentration of gases and aerosols accumulating in the atmospheric air, trapping heat, an action which results to raised temperatures near the earth. These gases are regarded as greenhouse gases (GHGs). In the years around the 1990s, the effects of global warming increased and resulted to international bodies responding to counter these changes brought about global warming effect. In the year 2001, “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)” on its third assessment reflected on the issues of climate changes in the period from 1990 to 2001, and also reflected on the expected future outcomes (UNFCCC pg. 17). According to the report, the 1990s was the warmest decade ever witnessed over the past 50 years, and increased human activities facilitated this. Forecasting the future, the report explained that industrial activities were expected to increase in the next 10 to 20 years from 2001 and this will in return increase the amount of emitted gases into the atmosphere (UNFCCC pg. 17). This has been evidenced by the increased temperatures on the earth surface which have resulted to increased draught cases like in Northern part of Kenya and the Sahara region in the northern part of Africa.

 In the same period of the 1990s, the UNFCC realized that provisions were needed to control the number of emissions. “In the year 1997, the Kyoto Protocol was agreed on which introduced legally binding emission reduction targets for developed countries.” (UNFCCC pg. 16) The 2nd commitment of the “protocol” began in the year 2013and is expected to end in 2020. 38 developed countries and the EU are part of the group committed to reducing emission by 18% below 1990s level (UNFCCC pg. 16-17). However, countries like the United States refused to sign up for the protocol, Canada, Russia, Japan and New Zealand are not taking part in the agreement. These are some of the countries that have a higher number of populations, and they harbor a lot of industries which emit gases into the atmosphere. 

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The European Union from 30th November to 12th December 2015, held a climate conference in France where on the 12th of December, the parties agreed on working together to limit global warming well below 2°C (United Nations para 9-11). “The final decision was to be implemented when 55 countries which together represents 55% of the global greenhouse effect. In the year 2016, 174 countries signed the agreement and began adopting it in their legal systems.” (United Nations para 9-11). Similarly, the United Nations report: “The Emissions Gap Report 2017” reported that in the year 2017, the global emissions were 30% higher than the 2030 target but the sign that the world will move away from the fossil fuels is giving hope of restoring the green environment that we once had.  Since coal industries in China and United States reduced their activities, the world has experienced low carbon dioxide emission, and the global climate is expected to change in the positive direction. The “United Nations Climate Change Conference” which took place in Bonn advanced the agreements of the Paris Conference. The report from the conference reported that since 1880 to 2012, the global temperatures increased by an average of 0.85 degrees Celsius; oceans have warmed, and the quantities of ice and snow have decreased hugely resulting to the rising of the sea level (United Nations para 9-11). “Given the current condition, the on-going greenhouse gases emission is expected to raise the temperature by an average of 1.5 degrees Celsius as compared to the 1990s temperatures” (United Nations para 9-11). The sea level is also expected to rise by more than 26cm by 2065 (United Nations para 9-11). The forecasting done on climate changes reflects greater and higher risks which will in a negative way affect the lives of humans. 

Some countries contribute more to global warming than others. The unfortunate thing is that countries that are responsible for raising greenhouse effects are reluctant to take effective measures to curb this problem. The fewer contributor countries are the one who are facing the most effects of air pollution caused by industrialized countries. The most industrialized countries such as U.S, China, Japan, India, and Russia contribute more than 15% of the world’s emission of carbon dioxide (Jackson and Jenkins 67). United State is leading in the emission of carbon from its high use of fossil fuels, but it has been showing no interest to deal with this crisis. Currently, it withdrew itself from Paris agreement that entailed to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released by industries and fossil fuels, yet its leading contributor to global warming.

China has been reported to be second from U. S in release of carbon dioxide in the air. Some of the countries that have shown great interest to deal with global warming in recent past includes Sweden, Morocco, and UK. Sweden has managed to lessen significantly the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. This country is trying to embrace the use of renewable energy as an alternatives source of energy. Sweden has been held as the role model country in efforts toward reducing the effect of the greenhouse effect in the world. Similarly, Morocco has managed to initiate one of the biggest solar-energy project in the world with an aim of reducing the use of fossil fuel which contribute greatly to global warming. Morocco is one of the fewer contributors to global warming in the world, but it’s taking necessary measures to reduce its use of fossil fuel. Britain has also done a lot in reducing emissions by moving from coal power to low-carbon energy sources. Most of the contributors of global warming in the world are lacking political will to priorities on reduction of emissions. In regard to research done by Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, the leading emitters of carbon dioxide includes; “China: 9697 million tons (MT) or 28.6%, US: 5420 MT or 16.0%, India: 1967 MT or 5.8% and Russia: 1829 MT or 5.4%” (Weart 45). The most of these countries rely on burning “fossil fuels” such as: “coal, oil, and gas”, which all are extremely injurious to our environment. The burning of the fossil fuels creates pollution within our environment, resulting in the aforementioned greenhouse effect. Pollution is also caused by overpopulation and the rapid rate of industrial pollution within those countries, such as China. These countries also have many cars which release fossil fuels when running. In addition, many people in industrialized countries relies on personal transportation to get to and from work, recreational activities, sports, concerts and more. With the increased rate in which people are driving their cars, pollution is happening faster “as a result of the burning fossil fuels.” Along with personal means of transportation, factories in these countries are pouring their pollution into the atmosphere. Pollution is occurring as such a rapid pace with more than one contributing factors.

 In the recent past, the global has witnessed wars which are not necessarily military but war of words, especially on issues connected to climate change and the rules and regulations that countries are supposed to adhere to so as to reduce emissions. The realism theory provides explanation on international relations, putting more emphasis on the behaviors of various countries and why they go to war (Goodin pg. 133). On the issue of climate changes, the issue doesn’t discriminate against state boundaries as it is a global issue that affects every state and every individual. This statement can be supported by various climatic changes experiences witnessed in various parts of the globe. Starting with floods experienced in Bangladesh and Brazil, the melting of huge amounts of ice in the Arctic and Antarctic and ending with the agricultural crisis in Italy, the climate change effects are undeniable. A huge number of scientists have reported that the earth’s climates are changing due to various human activities (Stern pg. 3). Burning of fossil fuel and extensive deforestation are some of the factors that in a big way, result to global warming. The realism theory explains that countries exist in an anarchy, and every individual country has its main concerns, being security and survival. Unfortunately, on the issue of climate changes, there exist no country which is not affected. But according to an evaluation done, the countries most affected by climate changes are based in Africa and the Asian continent, but they are not as much involved in emissions as countries in Europe and North America. In this relation, realist view that within the anarchy, some superior countries want to gain more power in expense of others. This is evidenced where major countries like Japan, the United States, Canada and New Zealand are not part of the group executing the regulations under the Kyoto Protocol. From this perspective of the realists on the climate change, one of the individuals reflected in the United States President Donald Trump who has refused to go by the regulations introduced by Kyoto Protocol. As per the argument of Machiavelli on realism, if any country behaved morally with the wellbeing of other states in mind, then there will be no success. This goes hand in hand with how the current states behave in relation to climate change. Superior countries are introducing policies and regulations which favors them and can move out of them anytime they want to.

Opposite from the argument developed by realism, the liberalism theory argues that states can exist in coordination to fight challenges together. On the issue of global warming, states have coordinated through organizations like the United Nations, European Union, and African Union. Regulations and policies on how to use the various resources in our environment and regulating our activities that increase the emission rate have been discussed. Based on liberal perspective, small or rather inferior countries have been in the forefront to accept regulations and policies introduced to reduce emissions. As per my thinking, considering global warming is a global matter whose degree and effects are not distinct based on borderlines, all nations should come together and join hands to fight against environmental pollution. No country should be more superior to another in this case and the policies introduced should apply to all countries.  But as long as countries are worried about their wellbeing and global superiority, countries like Canada, Japan, Russia and the United States will always want to play against the introduced regulations and policies

Global warming is likely to cause serious problem in future if effective measures will not be taken. With increased reluctant by major contributors to global warming to take the initiative to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide they release, there are high chances the world will experience higher greenhouse effects. The damage cost of global warming is likely to increase in future in almost all countries because there are no solid solutions that have been agreed on by international communities. There is still a lot of different viewpoints among the countries on how to deal with challenges posed by global warming. The extent of “climate change” will depend on how the world will behave in the next decades to come. If the countries will not put effort to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide they emit, there is high chance that effect of global warming will be felt more in future than today. There will be increased heat trapped in atmosphere which will translates to rising of sea level. Some parts of the world will become totally dry while others will experience floods and hurricanes. There will be increased food insecurity and health will deteriorate due to increased temperatures. However, if good choices are made today, the global warming can be reduced in future. For this to happen, it calls the efforts of entire world community to put their efforts together to curb this issue. If every country makes efforts to reduce the amount of carbon gases they emit, the levels of heat trapped in atmosphere will reduce noticeably, thus, reducing the warming. In future, more solid measures and regulations should be enacted to save the world from extreme effects connected to global warming.

Work Cited

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