The historical background into the effects of global warming on our immediate environment cannot be overemphasized. Critically defined as an increase in the average temperature worldwide by the Collins English Dictionary, it has been the source of a drastic environmental hazard which if not curbed soon, poses a serious threat to life on earth.As far back as the late 1890s, there has been concern over the release of carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere from the combustion of fossil fuels. Late last century, the concern was over coal, which was being burned in massive quantities to fuel the Industrial Revolution. Several factors therefore contribute to raising global temperatures with a resultant effect of global warming. Furthermore there have been startling predictions that a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide would lead to worldwide warming on the order of 9 degrees F [(5 degrees C) [Global Warming Unchecked, Signs to Watch for (HAROLD W.BERNARD, Jr.)].The earth’s surface temperature has risen by about 1 degree Fahrenheit in the past century, with accelerated warming during the past two decades. Over the past decades, individuals have therefore become increasingly aware of the connection between the actions they take on a day-to-day basis and overall environmental quality. There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities. Of notable concern and interest also, is the increase in the global means surface temperatures Human activities have altered the chemical composition of the atmosphere through the build up of the green house gases – primarily carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.(http://yosemite.epa.gov/globalwarming.nsf/comtent/climate.html ).Consequently, the effects of global warming have far reaching effects on the survival of man; ironically caused by man himself. The major contributor in this regards however remains the indiscriminate environmental pollution caused by motor vehicles. Known to generate more air pollution than any other single human activity, the chemical compounds generated include chlorofluorocarbons, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.These play a significant role in the depletion of the ozone layer with a resultant effect of global warming. Carbon fluorocarbons (CFCs) are however considered to be the most potent gases on a per-unit basis, now contributing about 24 percent of the total global warming effect (GLOBAL WARMING, the Greenpeace Report by LEGETT). Other than CFCs, other gases such as CO abound which contribute a lot to the effects of global warming.These are referred to as the greenhouse gases and they are responsible for causing infra-red radiation to be retained in the atmosphere, so warming the earth’s surface and the lower part of the atmosphere. Such gases have been present in trace quantities in the atmosphere for the great majority of the earth’s history. Water vapour, because of its abundance, is by far the most important natural greenhouse gas while carbon dioxide is considered second. Carbon dioxide however is added to the atmosphere both naturally and unnaturally by volcanoes and human activities such as combustion respectively. Without its presence however, the temperature of the earth’s surface would be some 33 degrees lower than it is today, which is also very harmful to survival of life on earth.Most prominent among the effects of global warming on life is in the field of agriculture. Contributing largely to poor yields caused the unusual heat and drought, the fate of agriculture and man’s consequent survival will largely depend on a fast solution to the increasing effects of global warming. The summer of 1998, marked by unusual heat and drought throughout North America and elsewhere, reduced the North American grain crop by about 30 percent, and affected the price of grain globally(GLOBAL WARMING, LEGGETT). The increasing industrial activities of man though positive, however have far more detrimental outcome especially for the ordinary subsistent farmer whose sole reliance for survival lies on his agricultural produce.Closely related to the agricultural hazards of global warming, are associated effects on the availability of water resources and supplies. Continuous industrialization has had a great effect on water supplies resulting in drought as a result of persisting global warming. The threat posed to aquatic animals whether fresh water or marine should then be of a major concern hence seeking an abrupt end to the dangers of global warming and its causes of environmental pollution. In several parts of the world, recreational lakes and reservoirs, for lack of rainfall caused by the increasing effects of global warming, dropped to such meagre levels that many boaters and fishermen abandoned them. The benefits of industrialization then seem to be more harmful than beneficial for the average man in the society.One more effect of global warming on the society is in the health sector. With continuous depletion of the ozone layer (which is a protective layer of the atmosphere for man against ultraviolet radiation), there seems to be even more issues for concern. Ultraviolet radiation is known to have detrimental effects on the immune system. For instance, cold sores not infrequently occur at the beginning of a summer holiday because of the immuno-suppressive effect of ultraviolet radiation on skin resulting in activation of the herpes simplex virus. This is just one of several examples of the harmful effects of global warming on health. There are also a very good number of communicable diseases, which occur as a result of the association with the temperature. These include yellow fever and dysentery, which are very prominent in hot and temperate regionsGenerally, the effects of global warming which have reached an alarming rate over the last few years seem to be very scary and hopeless, there however remains much hope ahead for curbing it to a very reasonable extent, along with all its effects and consequences. One big solution lies in increasing the fuel economy of our cars, SUVs and light trucks. This is a very important step in reducing the effects of global warming which arise mostly through the combustion of fuels. All hope should not be considered lost consequently if only would take into consideration, all the preventive and corrective measures.The increasing trend of global warming can also be reduced by harnessing clean, renewable energy from the sun and wind which offer non-polluting, economical and durable alternatives for generating electricity rather than the “dirty” and highly polluting forms which already abound. Wind energy, an indirect form of solar energy is cheap and clean and presents an enormous potential for greater use than it is at the moment (http://www.sierraclub.org/globalwarming/cleanenergy/wind.asp). Solar energy can also be converted directly into usable energy through a variety of processes in order to maximise the natural energy flow thereby reducing to a very reasonable extent the harmful effects of electricity and the consequent global warming.Realistically, the effects of global warming will be greatly reduced with individual determination and collective efforts. Consequently, all hands should be on deck in order to stem down this growing trend; the indiscriminate use of all forms of fuels should be stopped immediately while harnessing the less threatening forms of fuels and sources of electricity. This would go a long way in protecting our environment and ourselves too paving way for the gradual reduction in the global trend which has been with us for decades.
Global Warming: History and Effects on the Earth Essay
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