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Global Warming: A Dry Topic
Global Warming is one of the most controversial topics of the 21st century. There are many theories on whether or not it exists and if so, what caused it. The media is blaming global warming on human activity and governments around the globe are coming together to lower global pollution. Is this all just a scare into buying energy-efficient vehicles? Is it all a scam to sell the latest technology? This is what my research has been based on figuring out.
To start let me clarify what Global Warming is. The definition is "the observed and projected increases in the average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans" (A). So is this occurring? The answer is undoubtedly yes. It's not only happening but it has been going on for several years. The Earth has a natural warming and cooling cycle. It heats and cools over a number of decades. Lately the heat has been steadily increasing as shown in this picture.
Although the Cycle is naturally recurring, humans have played a part in increasing and speeding up the heating process. Our pollution to the air, water and ground has caused a steep and growing rise in temperature.
The effects of the temperature increase are already being experienced. Warmer water is melting the ice shelves which then break off into the ocean. The Arctic ice has decreased in size by 7% since 1990. In 1995 Larsen A ice shelf, with an area of 1600 sq. km, broke off. Larsen A was followed by Wilkins ice shelf of 1100 sq. km in 1998. An even larger chunk, Larsen B ice shelf of 13 500 sq. km, broke off in 2002. This has had a large impact on raising the water level and adding fresh water to salt water.
Warmer atmosphere is affecting not just the Arctic, but also warmer continents. The amplified intensity and frequency of natural disasters are being felt throughout the globe. Precipitation increase, due to the rising sea levels, is causing mudslides, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and tsunamis to be more catastrophic. Heat waves are affecting the environment dramatically. Warmer weather escalates the number of forest fires. This ends up hurting the logging industry which has a negative impact on the economy, specifically in North America.
There are many theories as to why this is happening. As I stated earlier, our Earth has a natural warming cycle; but why the dramatic increase in temperature in so short a time? One theory is the pollution theory. This is what is most currently heard in commercials promoting smart cars, hybrids or some new recyclable product and is usually followed by the phrase 'go
green'. This phrase represents helping the environment by limiting pollution. The pollution theory is based on facts about pollution gases from our cars, factories, wood burning stoves, garbage disposals and power plants. It's true that these things do pollute our atmosphere but this theory blames the industrial revolution as the start of carbon dioxide emissions increase. Since then the carbon dioxide (CO2) is said to have increased due to our wasteful lifestyles.
A different approach to the cause of global warming is the Tunguska Theory. This theory was introduced by Vladimir Shadurou of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He believes that the Tunguska Event is what advanced the warming climate. Tunguska was a meteorite that found its way into Earth's atmosphere. On June 30th 1908, it exploded, blasting a 2000 km sq. area and wiping out 60 million trees in Siberia. That big of an explosion "as much energy as fifteen one-megaton atomic bombs" (B) mixed up the levels of Earth's atmosphere.
Vladimir explains why this would affect the temperature. He states that in the atmosphere is water vapor and clouds formed of ice crystals. The water in the atmosphere influences Earth's temperature quite a bit. Only a large event such as Tunguska could disturb the water vapor and destroy clouds of ice crystal. The result of such a change would be a shift in temperature. John Tyndall says that without water vapor, Earth would be in a constant state of winter.
While the Tunguska theory could be true, major factors in Earth's temperature are green house gases, which bring up another theory. Green house gases (GHG's) are gases that exist within our atmosphere. One is water vapor which obviously comes from the ocean through evaporation. Next is carbon dioxide or CO2. CO2 is a colorless gas that is made by organic combustion. It's found in things such as fossil fuels, cement manufacturing, deforestation and industrialization. Nitrous Oxide is a GHG, commonly used for fertilizer. It is made by
combustion and absorbs energy. The final GHG is methane. You may recognize it since it is used in regular gas. It's also found in organic waste, bacteria from rice fields, coal and garbage waste.
The GHG's are a part of the atmosphere. When sunrays come enter our atmosphere, 30% gets reflected instead of absorbed by the earth. Some of the reflected sun rays then get absorbed by the GHG's which then warms the atmosphere. The more GHG's present in the atmosphere, the more sun rays are absorbed, creating more heat.
If you factor in this information, the Tunguska event stirring up the layers of atmosphere and our adding GHG's, it is very clear why global warming is occurring. Many nations are acknowledging the fact that global warming is a reality and are trying to solve it, or at least slow its course. Recently, a treaty was written to lessen GHG emissions. The Treaty was called the Kyoto Protocol. It was founded in Japan, December 11, 1997 but wasn't made national until February 16, 2005. Thirty-five industrialized nations have signed the treaty and are reducing their emissions to varying extents. Unfortunately, the largest industrialized nation, United States of America, did not sign the treaty.
We can help our government make the changes needed for our environment. By carpooling, walking or biking to work or school, we are reducing carbon dioxide and methane emissions. Planting trees and recycling helps clean the environment and reduce several of the GHG's. Our generation has invented many 'green' or environmentally friendly products. A simple thing like using better biodegradable bathroom products helps. Overall there's little we can do to stop natures cycle, but we can try to help lessen the disastrous results.
As I've stated, global warming is a reality. Although we will probably not feel its most drastic effects in our life time, we are already facing some pretty big disasters. This will only get worse for the generations to come. So shouldn't we do all we can to slow the process? Will you do your part in helping the environment?
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- "Green house theory smashed by the biggest stone". University of Leicester. March 14, 2006. December 16, 2009. http://www.physorg.com/news11710.html.
- "Global warming is happening". The Institute of Science in Society. July 18, 2006. December 15, 2009. http://www.i-sis.org.uk/globalwarming.z.php.
- "How Global Warming Works". John Strickland and Ed Grabianowski. April 2, 2005. December 15, 2009. http://science.howstuffworks.com/globalwarming.htm.
- "Kyoto Protocol". UNFCCC. January 18, 2010. http://unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol/items/2830.php