Melting Polar Ice: Global Warming or What?
We Should be Concerned!
Our wonderful planet is over heating and the ice caps are melting, is this natural or not?
Opinions on global warming are as diverse as ever, but we should listen more to the scientists than the politicians over this debate. Where do the politicians ever get us? They're knowledge and expertise is certainly not in geography or understanding our world - but they do hold the purse strings.
The scientists are often accused of being over cautious or dramatic in their assumptions. Perhaps they need to be in order to get their voice heard - especially by those in political power.
Or is the warming of our planet just meant to happen in the greater scheme of things? Always so many questions without too many answers, but one thing's for sure, the polar regions which are so important drivers of the world's climate are in serious trouble.
Photo credit: http://www.ebaumsworld.com/pictures/view/223478/
Created on 26 Jun 2013
IMMINENT Challenge - Things that Melt
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What Is Global Warming?
The Planet Is Heating Up Fast
Global warming is the result of a series of events. Sea levels are rising while glaciers are melting, forests are being cut down leaving animals with colossal habitat issues. It's clear that most of the world's warming has been caused by humans, especially during the last century.
As we power our modern lifestyle by the use of fossil fuels like coal and oil, gases become trapped in the atmosphere acting like a blanket, these are referred to as greenhouse gases (GHG's). The levels of these gases are now higher than any time during the last 650,000 years.
Earth's climate is changing with varied long-term weather patterns all over the world. This rising heat is causing changes in the climate rhythms that all life has come to rely on. There is more pressure on living things now than ever before as global warming interacts with the cycle of evolution.
How can we slow down this warming? How will we adjust to the changes already set in motion? While we try to figure it out, the face of our beautiful Earth hangs in the balance.
Image credit: Wikipedia
Useful Books on Global Warming
This book answers so many questions in an easy to understand way. It's great for children to learn all about climate change, its problems and what it means to the future of our planet.
Archer's thoroughly well reviewed book stands out in its clarity and detail. I think it would be especially useful for students as lecturers have rated it high. His clear writing style makes it an entertaining read at the same time of highlighting key concepts and ideas.
Global Warming Causes
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the main causes of global warming. By burning fossil fuels like oil, coal and natural gas for energy production or cutting down and burning forests to make pastures and plantations, the carbon builds up and puts pressure on our atmosphere. Too much CO2 in the atmosphere warms up the planet, this is the greenhouse effect.
Other industrial processes and various agricultural practices also add fuel to this global fire by releasing potent gases, like methane and nitrous oxide. By cutting down so many trees we are affecting the lungs of the planet, as trees soak up CO2 from the air.
See the chart below for global warming emissions by economic sector.
Source: Wikipedia - Global Warming
The Whole Story of Climate
This book sounds to be a real gem and is written for all to understand. I was amused at one reviewer who suggested that it should be compulsive reading for all national legislators; now that is telling us something about the clarity and detail gone into this Whole Story of Climate.
If you really want to grasp an understanding of climate change without the hype or any political slants, then this book is one to read.
Greenhouse Gas Producers
Countries that need to act!
It's high time that legislators all over the world started to act responsibly in trying to curtail the production of these harmful gases. By failing to address at least part of the problem now means that future generations will have to face the harsh consequences. Why are we so spineless? It's typical in politics today, difficult decisions wont be made because money talks! It's sad as the only losers are all of us.
We all know, and may even have experienced, the reality of what's in prospect as our planet gets warmer and warmer. Our climate is changing causing weather extremes and variants all around the globe.
The two power-houses of China and the US are the main culprits for the production of these harmful greenhouse gases:
List of countries by 2011 CO2 estimated emissions (in thousands of tonnes) and (emissions per capita)
[Source: UN Estimate]
China - 9,700,000 | 7.2
United States - 5,420,000 | 17.3
India - 1,970,000 | 1.6
Russia - 1,830,000 | 12.8
Japan - 1,240,000 | 9.8
Germany - 810,000 | 9.9
South Korea - 610,000 | 12.6
Oceans will rise, lush areas will become arid and the polar ice caps will recede, habitats will be lost and species will decline or become extinct.
Polar Bears and Other Species... - ...are seriously threatened
Climate Change Mitigation
Climate change mitigation includes any actions that have been taken or have been proposed to limit the rate and magnitude of global warming in the long term. This tends to involve reductions in man-made greenhouse gases emissions achieved through reforestation.
Other forms of mitigation involve switching to lower carbon energy sources, such as wind or wave power - and other renewable energy sources too - and nuclear energy. Planting forests to help remove sufficient amounts carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and improving insulation properties of buildings are other positive methods. Energy efficiency in general plays a vital role.
Parties connected to the main international treaty dealing with climate change issues have agreed that a limit be set to below 2.0Â°C (3.6Â°F) for future global warming. The International Energy Agency and the United Nations Environment Programme have both suggested that as of 2012 those policies are much too weak to achieve this 2.0Â°C target.
Image credit: UN Environment Program (UNEP)
Climate Change Science Compendium 2009 document cover.
The polar ice caps have melted faster within last 20 years than in the last 10,000 years.
How High Will the Seas Rise in a Warmer World?
We aren't too sure!
The IPCC is predicting sea level rises of between 9 cm to 88 cm (3.5-34.6 inches). This might sound fairly small, but a sea level rise of this tiny amount will wreak appalling havoc on humanity.
Scientists have found that one of the biggest effects in raising sea-level is caused by gravity. As the world's huge ice sheets, like Greenland's, are so massive this gravitational pull would come into effect as they pulled the oceans toward them, sea levels would then be raised in the surrounding region. If Greenland were to melt irreversibly, which is likely under current warming, it would contribute 7 meters to the rise in sea level.
As data collection from sites all over the world continues, scientists try to calculate potential sea level rises, although there is no suggestion that any rise is imminent. However, if say a twenty six foot rise in sea level happened by the end of the century, that would be catastrophic. It could take a thousand years to go up that amount, but if we don't address global warming and attempt to reduce GHG's it's inevitable that the speed of change will be faster. Science remains uncertain, but one thing's for sure - we're not moving in a reassuring direction.
Image credit: http://plan.risingsea.net/
Rising Sea Levels
It appears that the readership for this book should be those with valuable beachside or ocean area properties as they don't seem to realize that their asset may soon become worthless. This is a massive audience many times the size of those of us who are genuinely interested in the topic of global warming.
Risks of Global Warming
Spare a Melting Thought
Next time you're watching the ice melt in your drink or chasing the dripping ice cream down your cone with your tongue think about the poor unfortunate creatures who rely on not having their ice melt.
We can move from one place to another, one country to another, but the polar bears rely on being able to walk around their territories. As the ice flows become thinner and begin to drift apart, the bears can become trapped on these floating rafts. Their small ice islands will eventually melt leaving them stranded at sea without a means of survival.
It's hard to think that what we are doing with chainsaws in the Amazon and polluting factories everywhere - we are causing the melt.
If we all made a few changes in our lifestyle, we could make a difference.
Save energy - use renewable energy if possible, switch lights off, install modern energy efficient appliances, recycle and think!
Fossil fuels - reduce their use, especially gas for your car. Is every journey completely necessary? Could you share the odd journey with a friend or colleague? We have to become less reliant on non renewable energy sources - they WILL eventually run out!
BE MORE ENERGY AWARE!
Image credit: www.tomorrowisgreener.com
Do you think that global warming is part of our evolutionary cycle or man-made?
Spewing Out Carbon Gases
Industrial plants using fossil fuels and non renewable energy sources produce the bulk of the world's greenhouse gases.
Start to change to more efficient renewable energy sources, like wind power, solar power or nuclear energy. Adopt energy saving methods wherever possible - but most importantly MAKE AN EFFORT.
The trends of World Energy Consumption and Global CO2 Emissions show the concerning dramatic rise since the middle of the 20th century.
All concerns are backed up by science, as 97% of climate experts, scientists and other authoritative bodies say that global warming is caused by humans - and therefore can only be cured by humans.
WE MUST ACT NOW!
Melting Ice Shelf
A view of an edge of the floating Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica showing a region where the ice is cracking and most likely to produce an iceberg.
A Few Facts on Ice Shelves from the National Snow and Data Center.
On Thin Ice - A scientific expedition to a crumbling Antarctic ice shelf.
Are Leaders Doing Enough?
Are world leaders doing enough to address global warming?
Disappearing Arctic Sea Ice - Melting Polar Ice Cap
"This is a wake up call.
The time for hesitation is over.
We need the world to realize, once and for all, that the time to act is now and we must work together to address this monumental challenge"
Quote: Ban Ki-Moon, The UN Secretary General
This lens donates to Polar Bears International