The Alarming Issue of a Warming Earth
Some of the scientists, I believe, haven’t they been changing their opinion a little bit on global warming? There’s a lot of differing opinions and before we react I think it’s best to have the full accounting, full understanding of what’s taking place. - GEORGE W. BUSH
Climate Change and Global Warming
Are you affected by the change in the earth's temperature? Why Should We Be Concerned about a Warmer Earth? Do you really know the issues of climate change and global warming? Every one has to be aware of the two issues not only on the concepts involved but also on the solutions we have to adapt for sustainability.
Everyone, almost everybody and the whole entire humanity are now faced with the alarming issues on climate change and global warming. Everyone accepts that climate change is a major issue that affects Mother Earth. Thus making us eventually realized that it is an issue that confronts the entire humanity in the 21st century. An issue that undoubtedly affects not only our country being an archipelago in the biggest ocean of the earth but the whole planet as well. Based on the results of researches and scientific studies, the climatic rise in the world’s temperature, the sea level rise and coastal flooding, abnormal weather patterns, unusually warm weather heat waves, ocean warming, devastating typhoons and tornadoes, El Niño and la Niña, heavy snowfalls in many parts of the world, increased ranges of pests, drought and fires, and loss of biodiversity are the life-threatening results of climate change. As we experienced these phenomena and environmental surprises, we are beginning to realize that climate change is not just an accidental occurrence. We are now aware that the big bulk of problem on climate change is brought about by many years of human recklessness in dealing with the whole natural world… with Mother Earth.
According to several studies, a rapid increase in the temperature of the troposphere would give us little time to deal with and has harmful effect. What do we mean by that? Scientists involved with climate studies warn that it is not just about temperature change but how fast it occurs. The fairly sharp projected increase in temperature of the troposphere at present gives a big disparity in the changes of temperature over thousands of years to a hundred thousand years. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), there is a 90-99% chance that this will be the fastest temperature change of the past 1,000 years. This rapid change might affect the availability of water resources by altering the rates of evaporation and precipitation. It can affect the areas for crop to grow. It can also alter some ocean currents, increase average sea levels and can cause flood in some wetlands, cities and low-lying islands. Likewise, it can also change the structure and location of the world’s biomes and could affect the economic and social fabric of various societies in the entire world. Within a few decades or a century, scientists say that the projected increase in the earth’s atmosphere will give us little time to be able to deal with its effects. These predictions and the results of studies as well were supported by a 2003 analysis conducted by Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall. They therefore concluded that global warming “must be viewed as a serious threat to global stability and should be elevated beyond a scientific debate."
Global Warming and Greenhouse Effect
The world is warming up because carbon dioxide from smoke and car exhausts collect in the atmosphere and traps some of the heat going back to space, like greenhouse. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are expected to raise global temperature by an average of 2 degrees Centigrade by the year 2100 causing the polar ice caps to melt, sea levels to rise and freak weather conditions which may cause millions of deaths.
Solar radiation interacts with the earth’s surface in several ways. Some portion of this energy is reflected back into space by the Earth’s atmosphere, another portion is dispersed and scattered by the molecules in the atmosphere and a large portion penetrates through the Earth’s atmosphere to reach the surface of the Earth. The radiation reaching the earth’s surface is largely absorbed resulting in surface warming.
Much of this absorbed energy is eventually re-radiated in longer infrared wavelengths. As it leaves the Earth, it once again interacts with the atmosphere. Some of this re-radiated energy escapes to space, but much of this is reflected back to the Earth’s surface by molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere.
The molecules responsible for this phenomenon are called greenhouse gases. These are water (H2O), nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4), and carbon dioxide (CO2). They are called greenhouse gases because they act like the glass in the greenhouse, trapping re-radiated energy. Without these gases most life on Earth would not be possible, as the surface temperature of the Earth would likely be about 60 degrees Fahrenheit colder.
The so-called greenhouse gases (GHGs) are naturally occurring gases that keep the Earth warm enough for plants and animals to live in. They are by natural processes like the water cycle, growth and death of plants and animals, decaying of wood and other biodegradable materials, volcanic activities, etc.
In the last two centuries, it has been noted that human activities have increased the production of these gases:
- Methane (CH4), is primarily from agricultural activities such as intensive livestock raising and flooding of rice paddies and also from waste dumps, coal beds and leaks from gas pipelines;
- Carbon dioxide (CO2), these are from machines and motors that use coal, oil, and natural gas, and also from deforestation;
- Nitrous Oxide (N2O generated from intensive agriculture;
- Ozone (O3), in lower atmosphere, indirectly from automobile exhaust fumes;
- Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), from industrial processes as the ODS or ozone depleting substances
- Water vapor is also one of the greenhouse gases.
Global warming is caused by the increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) concentration in the atmosphere, trapping more heat near the Earth’s surface. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which is a scientific intergovernmental body under the auspices of the United Nation further concluded that this increase in GHG concentration is anthropogenic or man-made.
Effects of Global Warming:
A warmer weather could mean any or all of the following:
- Extreme weather condition.
Storms, floods, landslides and drought have wreaked havoc on agriculture, infrastructure and the lives of millions of people.
- Rise in sea level
It has been surmised that the 0.3 degrees Celsius to 0.6 degrees Celsius rise in global temperature since 1860 has resulted in a 10 – 25 centimeters rise in sea level. As global temperature increases, thermal expansion of ocean water and melting of glaciers occur.
- Health problems
Higher temperature will induce more cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Incidents of dengue fever, malaria, yellow fever and other tropical diseases will likewise continue to increase as hotter temperatures are more suitable in breeding of mosquitoes and insect that carry these diseases.
- Destruction of Ecosystems
For every degree Celsius rise in temperature, forest will experience a rise in occurrences of fires and pests. Entire forests could disappear because their functions compositions will be severely affected. Plant species that are unable to cope with severe drought and heat waves could become extinct, and could result to food shortage.
- Coral bleaching and death to corals
Corals, which are home to varieties of fishes and algae, are very sensitive to abrupt changes in weather temperature. When subjected to a 2 degree - Celsius to 3 degree - Celsius increase in water temperature of about three days, the algae will be expelled from the corals, denying the corals of their main food. The corals will turn white and die.
Coral bleaching happens when corals get too hot. Bleached corals are considered as sick corals . Bleached corals can still recover given the normal temperatur
Most people know that we cannot continue in the future as we have in the past. We can see that our deserts are expanding, the forests are diminishing, and the agricultural land is becoming less fertile and leached of its trace minerals, while the population of the world is increasing. If we do not change our ways, nature will check us in its own way. We have to do our share in saving the earth. What we think will be. The power of the mind and the will to change things can prevent big disasters. And big disasters can be avoided if people join together with possible thoughts and love. Who says we cannot save Mother Earth…? If we have the political will and discipline … Yes we can!
“There is no cause more vital and notable than the survival of the earth, and as its stewards, each and every one of us is responsible for its sustainable use. We have much to do to return our air, our water and our land to the bloom of health, as untrammeled economic development and population growth have exerted tremendous and often destructive pressure on the environment. We must act now to ensure that future generations of Filipinos will have enough to live on and bequeath to their own descendants.” - Sec. Heherson T. Alvarez