Global Warming Essay

Global Warming Term paper

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Living in the 21st century it is impossible to not be familiar with Global Warming – a term used to describe an increase in the Earth’s average temperature. While there is much ongoing debate over the cause of this, one thing is certain: Global Warming is very real, with the planet warming by about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit over the 20th century alone, with over half of this happening from 1980 onward [1]. This change in temperature can be linked to an increase in violent weather, natural disasters, and the general balance of nature throughout the world. Data collection the latter half of the 20th century shows that greenhouse gas emissions from man-made sources are rising dramatically and here in the 21st century things are no better, with a 3% rise in global greenhouse emissions in 2011 alone [2]. Clearly our infrastructure is critical, but at what cost? We clearly must take measures that enable us to prosper but also allow for us to look after the well-being of our planet, and minimalize environmental impact from industry and transportation. Causes of Global Warming Rise in global mean temperature increases can be directly linked to fluctuating levels in greenhouse gasses, which are, water vapor, methane, ozone and carbon dioxide. Increasing greenhouse gasses can be linked to industry, such as the burning of coal for power, and the more well-known CO2 produced by motor-vehicles [3]. A less well known contribution to global warming is one actually caused by global warming itself, the decrease in Earth’s Albedo. Albedo is a term that describes the reflectivity of an object. Polar Ice caps have a high albedo, rising ocean temperatures from other sources of global warming are causing our ice caps to reduce in size, thusly lowering Earth’s Albedo. Worse still is the release of trapped methane from the ancient ice into the atmosphere as the poles decline [4]. Other less known causes are deforestation, and the proliferation of nitrous oxide from fertilizers as well as gasses used for refrigeration and industrial processes [5]. These gasses, known as Chlorofluorocarbons or CFC’s are broken down by UV rays, and allow their free unattached chlorines to react with O3 in the upper atmosphere, breaking it down into oxygen, which in turn depletes the ability of the atmosphere to deflect harmful UV rays. Effects of Global Warming Global warming on earth is detrimental to human and animal life. Increasing global temperatures will cause a shift in geographical clime that is suitable for farming. While this doesn’t sound too detrimental to agriculture, animal life will not be adaptive to these changes, fishing will be adversely affected and may even lead to extinction in some areas. Another means by which the climate is affected is through the warming of the oceans. As global average temperature increases Earth’s polar ice caps are melted back into water. This has significant impact that is not immediately apparent. Apart from the rise in ocean level, which will cause a redistribution of population, the depletion of the polar ice caps also causes a loss in Earth’s Albedo, causing more heat energy to be absorbed from the sun, which in turn further warms the Earth. As the poles retreat methane clathrate, a compound containing methane trapped within the crystalline structure of ice will release methane, a greenhouse gas, back into the atmosphere, causing additional warming still.[6] Similarly rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere will lead to
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