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Global Climate Change

Updated on May 3, 2012

Global Warming has been a massive topic of concern over the recent years. It has become this major topic of concern due to many new developments of research, human impacting evidence, concepts, disasters and great escalation in general global warming. The new research and evidence has brought this major problem into the eyes of the whole world, it has reached a stage in which is a problem for the natural safety of the human race. Different perceptions, exaggerations and ideas have brought even more attention to the topic and have given it a spark which has reached the whole general public. Now that even more research has been done on the link between global warming and other natural disaster it has been found that it does have an effect on these disasters which often cause death and major destruction. Humans have been proven to be making a major change and impact. Why does climate change occur and what is the proof behind it.

What is and why does Global Warming occur?

In simple terms Global warming is the long term increase of earth’s average temperature. As global warming doesn't actually effect all locations across the globe scientists and meteorologists prefer the term “global climate change” rather than Global warming when referring to the whole complex array of changed being caused by human activity. The major effects of global warming are redistribution of climatic zones defined by temperature, precipitation and associated ecosystems. Global effects such as the warming trend and global cooling have occurred in our past, but evidence shows that in the recent decades global warming has been primarily induced by human activities which began during the industrial revolution, this was the beginning of fossil fuel burning which increased dramatically in the years since. This phenomenon occurs due to the release of the earth’s greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other artificial chemicals called halo-carbons) into our atmosphere which then causes the earth’s surface to warm. In the ideal situation the Sun’s rays enter the atmosphere in the form of light waves and heat up the earth, some of the energy heats up the earth and then is radiated back up into space in the form of infra-red waves. The problem that earth faces is that the thin layer is being thickened by the amount of greenhouse gases, as it thickens it traps the infra-red rays in and as a result the earth’s surface is starting to become dangerously warmer. Earth is sometimes referred to as the “Goldilocks planet” because the temperatures need to be just right.

Global Warming Diagram
Global Warming Diagram

Human impact

The current impact of the human race is still a controversial topic, but there is a great amount of evidence to show that we have had a major role in the escalating problem. IPCC’s research and testing shows that there is no way possible that humans haven’t had an effect on the climate, but the situation is that they are still searching for more solid evidence. Carbon dioxide has been shown to be the biggest culprit on global warming. Carbon dioxides emissions have grown by around 80 percent in the past 34 years from 1970 to 2004. Carbon dioxide is a contributor of 76.6% of human caused impacting on the climate.

Activities that result in the most CO2 emissions are burning fossil fuels, deforestation which releases the carbon stored in standing trees, drying peat (1000’s of year’s old decomposing organic matter) is a growing concern and cement production is also an important factor which has pushed china in the lead for Global CO emissions.

Methane, the gas which absorbs twenty-three times as much energy than CO2 per gram. Methane produced by agriculture and other sources is the second most important greenhouse gas; methane is 14% of human’s greenhouse output. A single cow doesn’t produce much methane, but the global cattle population of almost 1 billion produces enough of the gas to double the amount in the atmosphere.

A major piece of evidence shows that there is a fundamental relationship between our civilization’s growth and the ecological system of the earth’s change. There is an incredible trend between the years that the population started to grow dramatically and when climate change began to evolve dangerously. Around 160,000 BC the first modern humans evolved, by 100,000 BC there was around 150 million people on earth, by the time of 1AD the population had grown to a quarter of a billion. In the last 200 years there has been the most significant rise from around a billion to around 6.5 billion humans in the year 2006, the worrying prediction is that by the year 2050 the population will be at least 9.1 billion.

There is little doubt that our planet is warming but is it solely a result of human impacting? Most likely so.

Impacts of Global Warming

The American Geophysical Union, one of the worlds’ most respected scientific organisations, says that, “As best as can be determined, the world is now warmer than it has been in any point in the last millennia, and, if current trends continue, by the end of the century it will likely be hotter than at any point in the last two million years.” Some of the evidence produced by this organisation is that over the last century the average global temperature has risen around 0.6°C and that the 20 warmest years over the past 150 have been since 1980. Also Polar Regions have warmed at a much greater rate than the rest of globe. Areas such as Alaska, Canada and Eastern Russia have increased by up to 4°C over the past 50 years. As a result of this the permafrost is melting; roads, pipelines and transmission lines are being damaged as the ground underneath sinks. The sea level has risen approximately 15-20cm over the past century. About one quarter of this rise is due to melting glaciers and around half is a result of thermal expansion of seawater. A worrying fact is that if the whole of Antarctica were to melt, the sea level has been predicted to rise by several hundred meters. Droughts have increased in frequency due to global warming, for example in Africa the commonality of droughts has increased by around 30% in the past 35 years. The UN has reported that 60 million people in 36 different countries have needed emergency help due to droughts and resulting famines. So many different things have been impacted by this phenomena; mammals have started to breed earlier and in different locations to usual, disappearance of amphibians such as the Golden toad and penguin populations halving in the past 50 years, coral reefs are losing essential algae and resident organisms as the sea temperatures rise to above 30°C, this aligned with over fishing and other stressors are predicted to have a massive effect on these complex, biologically rich ecosystems.

Australia's impact

Australia’s impact on global warming relatively is 1.1% compared to the United States; at 30.3%, this fact seems a little unfair as Australia experiences some of the worst effects of global warming. The delicate ecosystem of the Great Barrier Reef is being destroyed; we are hit by some of the biggest cyclones of all time, droughts and other various issues. Australia does have a major impact as we mine the coal which is then burnt across the world; this may be the reason that the amount of emissions produced by Australia looks low on the charts.

Concepts and Ideas

  • If the whole of Antarctica was to melt the global sea level would ride by hundreds of meters.
  • Fisheries currently presently provide 2.6 billion people with 20% or more of their dietary protein, this is extremely likely to be effected by climate change as reefs and other aspects of the ocean deteriorate due to the increasing levels of acid-ification because of the high levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.
  • All the cattle in the world produce half of the methane gas in the atmosphere.
  • The Aral Sea was drained because two rivers were diverted to irrigating cotton fields; all of the fishing boats in this sea were marooned. This occurred in Kazakhstan, year 1990.
  • Per year around 30% of CO2 released into the atmosphere is released from burning of bushland for subsistence agriculture and wood fires used for cooking.
  • The world’s largest ice shelf cracked in half entirely only a few years ago, this had never happened before in history.

Related disasters

There is current that proves that Global Warming has a major effect on some of the most intense and life consuming climate related disasters. Some of the most related disasters include; tropical cyclones, deadly heat waves, droughts and flooding. These all have different reasons for occurring but the rate in which they occur and to what magnitude they will be affected by Global warming. Heat waves have been increasing dramatically in the recent centuries even though six day or more heatwaves have been non-existent between 1906 and 1956 but especially after the 1970’s the severity and commonality of them have increased at a deadly rate. Between 1995 and 2010 the total death toll count of major heat waves is around 110,000 people. Cyclones have had a disruptively large amount of impact in the recent decades with the death toll rising over a million. The effects of global warming have increased over the recent decades and the trends show that as a result the amount of natural disasters relating to climate change have increased in frequency as well.

Rainfall

Extremely low rainfall has been a disaster in its own category; it has destroyed outstanding areas of agriculture. It has increased problems such as over urbanisation in places that receive more rainfall. Places that originally only received a little amount of vital rain a year now receive no rain at all destroying survival chances of civilization and agriculture in those areas.

Sources

- Al Gore, “An inconvenient truth.” Pages 26-7. Print 2006.

- Brenda W. Lerner & K. Lee Lerner, "Climate Change: In Context.” Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Climate Change, Global Warming. Pages. 152-157, 200-207, 440-443. Print 2008.

- Cunningham-Cunningham, 2010 “Environmental Science: A Global Concern, 11e.” The McGraw-Hill Companies (pp 318-343)

- Three Beuro of Meteorology links deleted due to violations?

- http://www.ipcc-wg2.gov/AR4/website/11.pdf

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