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The Influence of CO2 Emissions
The metabolism of all the fauna and flora cannot take place without respiration. The processes of respiration are simply a loop between oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2). In fauna, animals take in O2 and release CO2. In flora, plants are able to convert CO2 to O2 via their photosynthesis, but create CO2 when the photosynthesis is not proceeding. It seems that O2 and CO2 constitute a loop which almost all parts of nature are involved in. Without them, nothing will survive on the earth. In other words, their importance is incomparable. Excess however means unbalance and which subsequently leads to resulting problems. Unfortunately, the current CO2 level is excessive.
The Growing CO2 Emissions
The continuous improving of technology accomplishes human beings’ development. People’s life span has significantly extended since the level of medical treatment kept creating leaps. Human population is increasing while the extending of people’s live range. The booming population, on one hand, releases more CO2 emissions during their physiological activities; on the other hand, it requires all kinds of resources to be more. The fact however is that most of them are limited. The current capacity promoting of food production and food supply system are not able to catch up with the population’s speed of sharply increasing. As a consequence, more and more land resources that were used for other purposes now have been converted to crop farmland in order to meet people’s need for food. Larger-scaled agriculture cultivation spurs the development of related industries’ extension. Nevertheless, the extension and development of these industries are not always positive. Since food shortage becomes urgent, the relevant production of fertilisers, equipment of storage, transport and other products are forced to grow higher by markets. In addition, people should have same right to enjoy their life, thus, they are definitely able to access to their social services and choose their way of transportation, conditions of accommodation and life style, despite the fact that it will rigorously challenge the capacity of every social level. Forests and some other greenbelt are cut down to cultivate food; the gross of CO2-absorbing-functional land are therefore shortened. It not only hinders ecosystem to play the role of cleaning itself through absorbing CO2 emissions, but also eliminates the beneficial functions of these land types, for example the forests’ protection to soil and defence to the hit strong winds. The growing needs of all the resources drive each single link of transport, industry and construction to rise. CO2 emissions are added accordingly. Compared with the sudden decrease of CO2-absorbing ability, the surge of CO2 emissions from a lot of aspects will be more problematic, for instance, deteriorative Greenhouse Effect.
The process of Greenhouse Effect can be simply descripted as that the earth is protected by the atmosphere, like a greenhouse because the atmosphere can prevent heat from excessively losing by trapping greenhouse gases. This phenomenon makes the possibility of a relatively stable temperature on the surface of this planet. More greenhouse gases created by humans’ activities leads to more heat trapped. Consequently, Greenhouse Effect is unnecessarily intensified and followed by global warming.
With the expectation of general temperature increasing, global warming will possibly melt ice glaciers in the Polar Regions and lead sea levels raise. Sea level rising will deeply influence coastal areas and islands. Coastal areas may have to suffer from the increasing threat of floods and marine disasters. For islands, the risk will probably be more serious. Some low-lying islands are going to be inundated by oceans, if ice glaciers are melting. It goes without saying that homelands will be destroyed and people may be killed. The reason why CO2 emissions are treat as the chief culprit is that it is the majority of greenhouse gases. According to the data provided by an environmental protecting organisation, Time For Change, Carbon dioxide accounts for 72% of the total greenhouse gases that humans’ activities emit. Therefore, to address the issues that global warming causes needs to take CO2 emissions reducing as a first priority.
From HDI to HSDI
Human Development Index (HDI) created by United Nations (UN) is a measure to indicate people’s quality of life in different regions by measuring Gross National Product (GNP), longevity of residents and people’s education durations from wealth, health and education aspects more than 20 years ago (Our World, 2010). Indeed, GNP, people’s health condition and schooling are capable of reflecting the level of development in a country or a region. GNP stands for the demotic level of productive force which indirectly illustrates the value per capita creates and people’s financial conditions. Longevity of residents mirrors local medical level and high longevity is normally a precondition of high quality of life. Similarly, high level of education is an essential condition that a well-developed country should have. However, it was pointed out that countries placed emphasis on national economic development to improve their HDI rank (Our World, 2010). Positive development should be healthy, sustained and comprehensive. Any lopsided development will be neither convictive nor advisable. It seems that all of these three parameters did not embody the conditions of ecological environment which is an extremely important element of high quality of life. People’s longevity might be able to slightly indicate the quality of environment, but it was significant vague. Highly developed medical level can moderate the negative impacts or harm from subhealthy and even unhealthy environment to extend people’s human longevity. Physical health conditions are not qualified to efficiently represent the whole situation of life quality. High life quality also contains happiness, enjoyment and harmony.
‘Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations’ the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) descried what sustainability is.
Indeed, on the way to higher and higher human development levels, wealth, health and education are always meaningful to pay attention to. And yet once the development sacrifices environment or loses the ability to sustain, the development will neither be harmony nor authentic, but illusions. To strive enhancing the levels of people’s economic rising, creating highly convenient living and perfect medical support, or affording people schooling in high quality by abusing resources or overlooking the environment is both unwise and cruel. Sustainability means that not only human health, but also environment demands to be protected by a long lasting available and accessible all kinds of resources, such as water and other materials (EPA, n.d.). The future generations should not bear the mistakes we are making and it is even unfair if there will be few or nothing necessary resources left.
“[t]he basic purpose of development is to enlarge people’s choices. In principle, these choices can be infinite and can change over time”. Mahbub ul Haq (2010), the founder of the Human Development Report, pointed out. And also the United National University (2010) argued on their web portals ‘Our World’ that people’s choice is based on the premise that there is just one planet that we can live, but under the condition of existing CO2 emissions, two are required. As a result, HDI contributes not sustainable development but misguidance. Measuring tools need to be followed only when they can lead people to develop to a positive direction, otherwise, the misunderstanding or misguidance that they made could make the expectation to be counterproductive.
Chuluun Togtokh added the fourth parameter per capita carbon emissions and converted HDI to HSDI which was Human Sustainable Development Index (Our World, 2010). On the rank of HSDI, many economy-advanced countries felt their positions behind from front-runners on HDI rank. It is seemingly a signal to remind people to rethink and pay attention to the right definition and direction of the development of humanity. In today’s high level of CO2 emissions, how successful we can minimise the current CO2 emissions becomes the key that determines how well and how long the entire human community will achieve.