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Global Warming and Its Serious Effects
Since humans have achieved a great development of technology, there are numerous changes such as quality of life and advanced conveniences. However, air pollution caused by this advancement has also been contributing to increasingly warm the earth. As long as the earth heats up, its temperature inevitably rises. This phenomenon is defined as global warming. Most scientists and experts believe that the earth has recently been heating up; also, they agree that global warming affects the global climate as well. Then how does global warming change the global climate? And how does the climate change affect the earth? If the earth is constantly warming by global warming, the climate change will bring us the rise of sea level, droughts, flooding, desertification, changes in the Ecosystem, et cetera. This means that humans will face an unprecedented disaster at the end of global warming.
Global warming is caused by not only humans, but it is also caused by natural factors. For example, the earth can keep warm due to one of natural factors, the greenhouse effect. In 2008, a study of Institute for Science, Technology and Public Policy in Texas A&M University, the greenhouse effect is a naturally occurring process that aids in heating the earth's surface and atmosphere; in other words, the earth would lose a lot of heat from the sun, and would be chilly with an average temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit without the greenhouse effect (Liu 380-81). Although the greenhouse effect contributes to increase the earth's temperature, it is still vital to prevent freezing earth. According to John W. Kimball, who was a science professor at Harvard University after receiving PhD degree there, in his blog post explains that the greenhouse effect is like a blanket because when solar radiation reaches the surface of the earth, it is reflected back out into space (Kimball). However, in his blog indicates, some of greenhouse gases absorb and reradiate this radiation to the earth (see Fig. 1). Thus, some heat is kept in the atmosphere. This is why the earth keeps warm constantly.
In addition, the climate is being changed by human activities, which have greatly increased greenhouse gases. When people burn fossil fuels such as gasoline, diesel, coal, and oil, it brings forth carbon dioxide. In The Long Thaw, David Archer, professor of geophysical sciences at the University of Chicago, comments that greenhouse gases and water vapor have increased in the atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial revolution (104). For example, deforestation causes an increase of carbon dioxide, according to a New York Times national article, Andrew C. Revkin and Timothy Williams. When trees grow, they absorb carbon dioxide, and release oxygen. Accordingly, if people keep cutting trees, they cannot gain a lot of oxygen then there will be continuous augmentation of carbon dioxide. Also, the industrial revolution contributed to building factories. When factories produce products, they burn fossil fuels, and then they produce carbon dioxide. Most of the water vapor is evaporated from the ocean surface, so it does not harm people, yet carbon dioxide is different (Archer 113). It does not disappear, and it influences us. This is called enhanced greenhouse effect, and it is the major cause of global warming (Kluger). It can be hard to imagine how people might be alive with several effects by the earth filled up with carbon dioxide.
Then how does global warming affect the earth? There are several potential effects. First of all, global warming affects the rise of sea level. Due to the increased temperature, the polar ice cap is melting, and it causes sea-level rise. As NASA's Global Change Master Directory says, “Sea level is indeed rising. This determination is made when one averages changes in sea level over the entire globe for the past century. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has estimated that the global average sea level has risen 10 to 25 cm (4 to 10 inches) in the past century” (Gornitz). Sea-level rise will make the situation worse for low-lying land; in fact, some of the land is already subsiding because of the withdrawal of groundwater. People will lose the land for agriculture, and the freshwater resources by salt intrusion (Liu 386). According to Professor Will Steffen, the head of the ANU's Fenner School for Environment, says:
“Global warming will be hitting hard on the low-lying public and private land along the New South Wales coast. Thus, to combat the damage he is calling for action on this area. We should start planning now as infrastructure is renewed to move some of that infrastructure to higher areas. Some of the roads that go along the coast (see Fig. 2), any area that's about one or two meters above sea level would be vulnerable certainly to the rising sea level and also to the storm surges (qtd. in “Digital Model to Help Combat ‘Rising Sea Level' Designed”).
Therefore, major cities of the southeastern United States such as Miami and New Orleans will be covered by water.
Another effect with global warming is the fact that Moisture can be affected by the climate change. Some parts of the world are expected to become warmer and drier, especially in summer, with a greater likelihood of droughts. As the climate changes, more moisture evaporates from the world's oceans and lakes. This can increase rainfall, and eventually it could cause floods (Archer 128). In addition, there may be increased starvation. In an Ecological Modelling journal, Dr. Alessio Alexiadis, research associate position at UNESCO Centre for Membrane Science & Technology, claims that, through adaptation to different crops and practices, the total of world food production will not be seriously affected by climate change; however, the disparity of the amount of food supplies between the industrial and the developing world will almost certainly become larger (250-51). In fact, studies have not yet taken into account the likely occurrence of climate extremes. It is vital that every nation be aware of the potential treat of starvation caused by climate change.
There will be then a serious effect on natural ecosystems, especially at middle to high latitudes (Liu 391). Forests will be affected by increased temperature because more trees will die naturally and therefore they will not absorb as much carbon dioxide. Also, global warming can affect the ocean. The areas where upwelling occurs and where fish congregate can be influenced by the change of ocean temperature. For this reason, the fish and its food chain could be ruined; therefore, it would entail a huge change in ecosystems (Revkin and Williams). At last, in a warmer world, longer periods of heat stress will have an effect on human health. As the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) says, “People with heart problems are vulnerable because one's cardiovascular system must work harder to keep the body cool during the hot weather” (United States). The warmer temperature will also encourage the spread of certain tropical diseases such as malaria, which would persistently threaten human beings (Revkin and Williams). It will be a very serious menace to both each individual's health and natural ecosystems if global warming constantly increases the earth's temperature.
In conclusion, global warming is caused by nature or human activities. A variety of evidence points in one direction those humans and natures are actually the main causes which intensified the greenhouse gases and hence have caused Global warming over the last few years. In addition, global warming obviously has several effects both on human beings and on the earth. The effects from global warming are more enormous than people may be thought; but, it is happening now. There are some solutions to prevent global warming such as decreasing the burn rate of substances causing carbon dioxide, saving and growing more trees, and developing replacement for fossil fuels. However, these little abstract ways have not yet answered the purpose of what people have attempted to thwart global warming. It seems to me that people first must consciously seek to understand what global warming really is and its harmful effects rather than propose some idealistic solutions. If one manages to obtain sufficient information about the enemy, he/she does not need to fear the horrendous result. Global warming is not so far in the future for becoming the real enemy.
- Alexiadis, Alessio. “Global Warming and Human Activity: A Model for Studying the Potential Instability of the Carbon Dioxide/Temperature Feedback Mechanism.” Ecological Modelling 203.4 (2008): 243-56. Print.
- “All Washed up; Climate Change.” The Economist 7 Apr. 2007: 16. Print.
- Archer, David. The Long Thaw. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2009. Print.
- “Digital Model to Help Combat ‘Rising Sea Level' Designed.” Greendiary.com. The Instablogs Network, Citizen Media Pvt. Ltd., 12 Apr. 2007. Web. 14 Nov. 2009.
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- Kluger, Jeffrey. “Global Warming Heats Up.” Time.com. Time, 26 Mar. 2006. Web. 14 Nov. 2009.
- Liu, Xinsheng. “Regional News Portrayals of Global Warming and Climate Change.” Environmental Science & Policy 11.5 (2008): 379-93. Print.
- Revkin, Andrew C., and Timothy Williams. “Global Warming Called Security Threat.” Nytimes.com. New York Times, 15 Apr. 2007. Web. 14 Nov. 2009.
- United States. Dept. of Environmental Protection. “Climate Change and the Health of Children” Yosemite.epa.gov. Federal Government of the United States, 30 Apr. 2008. Web. 14 Nov. 2009.
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