respiratory and heart damage, warming temperatures, the melting of polar ice
caps, and heat waves capable of killing thousands lay in our near future if
changes are not made soon. What is the cause of this, you ask? Humans. Though
it never crosses our minds, we are a great cause of global climate change
because we greatly contribute to what is known as the greenhouse effect and
global warming. Global warming and the greenhouse effect work hand in hand to
create global climate change as a whole. In this article, you will be informed
of what, exactly, is the greenhouse effect, global warming, and global climate
change, as well as the dangerous problems these initiate and possible solutions
to these problems.
I can easily remember LG1 being
a little girl, outside in the clean fresh air, a gentle breeze blowing on a
warm summer day. The Sun casting its silhouette upon the Earth seemed like
nourishment for the soul, making me crave the warm summer coming soon after the
release of school for the year. Cold, but not freezing, winters had me excited
for winter and that cold cup of Cocoa. However, today things have changed.
Summers have grown hotter, winters have grown colder, occasion of storms has
grown in number, and air quality has decreased, but why? What’s happening?
According to the Union
of Concerned Scientists(USC), Inc., global warming and the greenhouse
effect (air pollution) are causing this great change in temperature across the
globe, known as global climate change.
Today’s terminology defines global climate change generally as the current
warming trend in global temperatures and the many associated climate changes,
but this is actually a term called global warming. Global Climate Change is
defined by the 5th Edition of
Essential Environment by Jay WithGott as a systematic change in aspects of
Earth’s total climate whether it be
increasing or decreasing, raining or droughting, etc. Global climate change
occurs for numerous motives, including the greenhouse effect, air pollution,
global warming, and deforestation.
The greenhouse effect is a major aspect of global climate
change. Caused by the energy emitted by greenhouse gases – including carbon dioxide
(CO2), water vapor, nitrous oxide(N2O), ozone (O3),
halocarbon gases, and methane (CH4) – the greenhouse effect is
simply the warming of Earth’s surface and atmosphere. Also contributing to
global climate change are what are known as air
pollutants. These air pollutants not only contribute to global climate change
but cause a great decline air quality and general health by causing occurrences
of things like acid rain or heart failure.
2014 the World Health Organization 92% of the world’s population has been
living in areas that the WHO has deemed unfit for their guidelines, with the
mass majority of the population breathing in unhealthy air every day. Air
pollution is, and has been, a big risk to the environment and our health. The
World Health Organization suggests that there is a way to reduce the burden of
disease from stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute
respiratory diseases, including asthma. This is by reducing air pollution
levels worldwide. (WHO) argues that the lower the levels of air pollution, the
better the cardiovascular and respiratory health – both long-term and
short-term – of the population will be.
This argument is supported in our lecture that states that the four most
directly affected systems in the body are the following:
& Soft Tissue
2 Lecture also states that the most sensitive receptors to air pollution are
part of the respiratory system. We get a brief lecture on the six criteria
pollutants mentioned before – Particulate Matter (PM), Carbon Monoxide (CO),
Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Sulfur Dioxide (SO2), Ozone (O3), and Lead (Pb) – and
their effects of the human body. The lecture then goes on to briefly explain,
not only the effects of air pollution on our bodies, but on the environment as
well. Examples include property and environmental damage due to acid rain, Ozone
Depletion, and global climate increase due to greenhouse gases (the Greenhouse
major contributor to global climate change is global warming which is exactly
what it sounds like – the increase in Earth’s average surface temperature. This
causes the melting of the polar ice caps and the unbearable heat we experience.
The UCS states, “Most major Northeast cities currently experience no more than
two days of 100°F weather in the
average summer, but on a higher-emissions pathway that number could rise to
more than 20 days.” It is also stated by the USC that, “By the latter part of
this century, higher emissions will cut the number of snow-covered days by half
across most of the region.” The effects
of this great change in climate will affect not only our ecosystems, but our
agriculture and by the tourism industry. Why is all of this happening? Are we responsible?
to the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA), it has been concluded by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of 1,300
independent scientific experts from countries that are all over the world, that
there is more than a 95 percent probability that human activities over the past
50 years have warmed our planet. Our industrial activities, such as our nuclear
plants, that our modern civilization greatly depends upon, has raised
atmospheric carbon dioxide levels significantly from 280 parts per million to a
whopping 400 parts per million in only the last 150 years. This is not even
considering the other day-to-day devices/objects we use that causes pollution,
such as cars, air conditioners, and the occasional lawn upkeep supplies
(mowers/weed eaters). The Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change also concluded that there is a better than 95
percent chance that human-produced greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide,
methane and nitrous oxide, have caused much of the observed increase in Earth’s
temperatures over the past 50 years. To simply answer the preceding questions,
THIS is happening because we refused to educate ourselves. We would rather be
oblivious and live in the moment. Are we at fault? Most definitely.
we do to change it? What’s the big deal anyways? The problem is, global climate
change is on the rise and its effects, not only hurt our environment, but our
general health and economy. Mainly affecting the respiratory system, these
pollutants have the power to cause nausea, headaches, fatigue, heart and
nervous system damage, and potentially death. If you combine that with the
greenhouse gases that re-emit infrared radiation that mostly travels back
downward, warming the lower atmosphere and the surface of the Earth, you have
the perfect mixture for substantial global climate change.
temperatures continue to rise, precipitation begins to change in occurrence and
harsh, extreme weather becomes what we know as “the new normal”. Vast amounts
of polar ice caps begin melting, creating rising sea levels that lead to beach
erosion, intrusion of saltwater into aquifers, coastal flooding, and greater
impacts from storm surges. Though different regions are impacted very
differently, climate change also affects society. When rainfall is shifted in
space and time and droughts and floods are intensified, this causes crop
production to fall, affecting our agriculture greatly. Hotter, drier summers
and milder winters promote bark beetles that destroy millions of acres of
trees, as do catastrophic fires that thrive during drought season because
conditions make it easier for the fires to spread. A massive rise in
temperature also results in heat stroke, as it did in 2003 when a heat wave in
Europe killed approximately 35,000 people. Flooding can bring diseases and
sanitation problems when the water overcomes sewage treatment systems. Injuries
and drownings also become more frequent. Climate change is also believed to
eventually economically widen the economic gap between the wealthy and the poor
because the wealthy have greater means to adjust to each change than the poor
to ScientificAmerican.com, there are
numerous solutions to our pollution to slow down global climate change.
Foregoing fossil fuels, moving closer to work, being efficient, consuming less,
eating smart-maybe going vegetarian, upgrading infrastructure, stopping the cut
down of trees (deforestation), unplugging, having one child, and working on
future fuels are all part of the top ten solutions to global climate change. First
on the list is eliminating the burning of fossil fuels – such as coal, oil, and
natural gas. Since coal supplies roughly half of the electricity used in the
U.S. and oil is undoubtedly the lubricant of the global economy – being
fundamental to the transportation of both consumers and goods – this is
considered a nearly impossible task. This task, however, can be assisted by
trying to employ alternatives when possible – such as plant-derived plastics,
biodiesel, and wind power.
infrastructure is another alternative. Radically upgrading existing highways
and transmission lines, or investing in new infrastructure, would help cut
greenhouse gas emissions and drive economic growth in developing countries.
Because buildings worldwide contribute around one-third of all greenhouse gas
emissions, this is a dramatic contribution to the reversal of the greenhouse
effect, or at least the slowing down of it. The second leading source of
greenhouse gas emissions in the United States is transportation. One way to
assist in a dramatic decline of greenhouse gases emitted by our means of
transportation is to simply just move closer to work. Mass transit is also an
option, as is switching to cycling, walking, or some other model of
transportation that does not require anything more than simple human energy.
The easiest way to cut back on these greenhouse gas emissions, however, is to
simply buy less stuff, because cutting back on consumption results in fewer
fossil fuels being burned to extract, produce, and ship products around the
globe. It is simple supply and demand, if you reduce the demand for the
product, the supply will not have to be as high.
Yet another solution that can have a
huge impact simply by doing more with less, is the act of being more efficient.
This can be done by using more efficient house hold appliances such as air
conditioners, refrigerators, etc., as well as weatherproofing windows to reduce
heating and cooling bills. By not choosing to speed off in that gas-guzzling
sport-utility vehicle and practicing good driving, it also contributes to the
ideology of being more efficient and emitting less greenhouse gases as does
being sure not to leave on any lights when you are not in a room. Eating smart
or maybe even going vegetarian is another solution to global climate change
since the University of Chicago researchers estimate that each meat-eating
American produces 1.5 tons more greenhouse gases through their food choice than
do their vegetarian peers. It would also take far less land to grow the crops
necessary to feed humans than the livestock we consume, thus allowing more room
for us to plant trees.
deforestation is on the rise, planting trees grows more and more important.
Timber harvesting in the tropics alone contributes 1.5 billion metrics tons of
carbon to the atmosphere which represents 20% of human-made greenhouse gas
emissions. It is possible to eliminate a significant chunk of these emissions
through improved agricultural practices forest management, paper recycling, and
balancing the amount of wood taken out with the number of new trees growing.
Unplugging devices that are not being used is also listed as a solution since
more energy seems to be consumed when gadgets and appliances are seemingly
switched off. By saving over one billion kilowatt hours of electricity, this
could prevent the release of more than one MILLION metric tons of greenhouse
one child, the next solution, seems absolutely absurd when you say it out loud.
How could that possibly change things? However, reasonably thinking, more
humans means more greenhouse gas emissions for supplies such as food, clothing,
and other resources extracted from the plant. If climate change is to be
controlled, per capita energy consumption must go down. Last, but not least, we
could pose a great solution to our pollution if we replace the fossil fuels and
introduce future fuels. Though all of them have drawbacks and none of them are
immediately available at the scale we need, these future fuels – such as
ethanol derived from crops, hydrogen electrolyzed out of water, and biodiesel
hybrid electric vehicles – are considered to be a fantastic solution to
fighting global climate change.
listing differences, going through what is happening, informing you of why this
is happening, why we are responsible for this happening, and listing some
possible solutions to global climate change, I can only hope you see the
importance and urgency in the changing of our ways. We ARE, most definitely,
responsible for global climate change. Even if your contribution is as simple
as planting a tree on Earth Day, I encourage you to try to get active in
assisting our environment in its fight against global climate change. After all
. . . Our future relies on it.