Provide an outline on issues related to the impact of the climate change and global warming - at various levels - in relation to the environment in general and the living species (including humans) in particular. Analyse and discuss how this kind of environmental threat can be dealt with and how to minimise the impact.
The most alarming environmental issue that the world faces today is global warming. Since the dawn of the 20th century, the adverse effects of global warming have become more and more discernible. It can be observed with the increase in the number of tropical storms and hurricanes causing massive devastation around the world, more people are dying because of disproportionate temperature, animal species becoming extinct. Global warming is basically because of carbon dioxide emission which may be either from power plants burning coal and gas or from the automobiles running on diesel and gasoline. The climatic changes since the last decade have been accelerating, which affects the future sustainability of the Earth. The impacts of the climatic changes are already being observed throughout, such as variation in the agricultural productivity, glacier retreat, changes in seasonal timing. According to IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climatic Change), this has been the hottest decade since 1880. Scientists have already demonstrated that the Earth temperature will rise to 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit within 21st century if we are unable to control the emission of Carbon dioxide.
According tothe scientists, the average temperature of the earth will be increased by 5-6 degree Celsius by the end of the century. This results in the melting of glaciers and increase in the sea level.
37 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide are released in one year because of human activities. It is estimated that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today is greater than it was 640000 years ago. Currently, the percentage of carbon dioxide is around 31% of the total atmosphere.
According to Joseph, the sea level will be rising by 3 feet in the coming future and around 100 million people will be affected by this (mostly the public residing in coastal areas).
Around 15-37% of animal and plant species will be lost by the mid of the 21st century.
According to NASA, last nine years are all included in the 25 hottest years. This means that the average temperature of the earth is increasing year by year.
The list of the impacts doesn’t end here; these were fewer of them, which will cause an adverse effect on the environment as well as on the living species. Many of the changes in environment are already apparent.
The days are getting hotter, hurricanes and storms getting stronger, rainfall, flooding and droughts are more severe nowadays. More and more energy is pumped into tropical storms by the warm water of the ocean,which make them potentially more destructive and stronger. According to the IPCC, storms with same intensity will cause a higher level of damage because of increased sea levels. Over the past 35 years, the number of category 4 and 5 hurricanes have been alarming along with ocean temperature. Hurricane Sandy in the year 2012 was one of the deadliest of the hurricane of the US history, which causes more than US $125 billion. It is described as a “once in a generation” storm, around 5 million people were affected and 74 people died in the Caribbean. Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica and the Bahamas were the most affected one of Sandy storm. In New York metropolitan area, around 105 people died and thousands were affected by the floods and heavy winds. Secondly, the probability of drought and the wildfires is increasing day by day because of warmer temperatures, rate of evaporation being increased. The drought in the year 1999-2002 is considered as the most extensive drought in the last 50 years. The total area burned by the wildfires and the frequency of wildfires have been steadily increasing, the major contributing factor being Global warming. Moreover, drought conditions for more than one year weakens the trees and overcome the defense mechanism of the tree more easily. Higher temperature enforces the snowpack of western forest to melt, 1 to 4 weeks earlier than it did in 50 years, summer heat builds up more quickly, the spring runoff occurs earlier than usual. The frequency of lightning could increase up to 6 percent with an increase in temperature by 1.8 percent. Thirdly, heavier rainfall in some areas is witnessed because of the increase in the energy of the climatic system. According to the scientists, many communities living in the lower region is at risk of devastation from floods because of the increased frequency of heavy rainstorms. According to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), the northeast region had its wettest summer on record in 2006, exceeding the previous record by more than 1 inch.
Health is also one of the major concern for the public affected by the global warming. Heat waves because of higher temperature causes dehydration, heat stroke and heat exhaustion. In areas of no humidity, the air is dry and the body can persiprate which help in reducing the human body temperature, but in the areas which have 100% humidity the human sweat doesn’t evaporate and the body temperature doesn’t cools. Heat exhaustion is the major risk because when the human body is exposed to prolonged exposure to the sun, the body begins to perspire and dehydrate. The body disposes less amount of heat than it is producing, and soon the person will experience headache, cramps and weakness. If proper care is not taken the body temperature can rise to 105 degrees, which will result in heat stroke. This can cause serious problem to kidney, heart and permanent disability to the brain. In the Northeast region, almost 25 children died in the car within 20 minutes because of heat stroke as the temperature within the car can rise to more than 120 degrees. In Europe more than 70,000 lives were lost and in France more than 15,000 lives were lost within two weeks of soaring temperature (104 degrees). Secondly, the smog pollution because of carbon dioxide is so intense that it is really difficult to breathe. Almost around 100 million Americans are suffering from breathing problems such as asthma and pollen allergies.
The increase in global temperatures is expected to disrupt the ecosystem and pushing some of the species to extinction. According to National Wildlife Federation (NWS), around 1 million species will be obliterated by 2050. Due to the melting of the arctic ice cap the polar bears are drowning; According to a study almost two-third of the polar bear will be on the verge of extinction in the next 25 years. In the past 25 years the population of penguins was reduced by 33%. The golden toad which was once abundant in Costa Rica’s Monteverde forest are on the verge of extinction because of cloud and mist formation which affects the ecology of the area. Not only the species on land is affected, but also the plants under water. It is estimated that around 97% of the world’s total coral reefs will be wiped out.
Global warming is the major concern of the government and if the government has to do something, the correct time is now, otherwise it will be too late to start. The UN family is at the forefront in solving the issue. The United Nation Framework Convection on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the 1st one to tackle the global warming issue in 1992 and is termed as “Earth summit”. Kyoto protocol, an agreement made to reduce emission of gas emissions worldwide came into force in the year 2005. This treaty was signed by 184 countries, and following this treaty the average of gas emission level is decreased by 5%. As an individual everybody can contribute to the reducing of gas emission. Several steps that can be either taken or is already in act to reduce gas emission are as follows:-
Until 2005, power plants were not being stopped from the emission of deadly gases into the surroundings- no rules were imposed in the amount of Carbon dioxide emission. But since then Clean power plan launched by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came into act and it's helping a lot in reducing the gas emission.
The major challenge for our society is the global warming. There is very little doubt that in the coming century global warming will be changing our climate. So, what are the solutions? Firstly, international political solution is must. Secondly, some alternative of the current available energy must be found out, solar energy may be the best among all. All the development of the society is based on its energy resources, hence proper funding should be done in developing clean and cheap energy production. If we start from today, then the impacts of climate change can be mitigated.
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