There are many opinions about global warming, but based on scientific evidence, it is affecting our planet now and will greatly impact our future. Global Warming will be a major problem if we do not work to reduce our impact and change our ways. Part 1 of this article is going to look at what global warming is and how the Earth is being affected.
It is beyond the scope of this article (although it is getting longer by the hour!) to go into a lot of the science exactly explaining what global warming is, so thought I would start with the least you need to know:
1. The Earth’s lower atmosphere (where we and the weather are) is primarily heated by radiation from the Earth, not directly by the sun. The sun warms the Earth, and the Earth warms the air.
2. How warm the lower atmosphere gets depends on how much heat is held by gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons, water vapor, and other “greenhouse gases”.
3. This “greenhouse effect” is natural, and necessary for life on Earth.
4. Some human activities are causing an increase in greenhouse gases which are making the Earth trap more heat, which is termed global warming.
5. Global warming is geographically irregular, and could lead to major changes in weather, ocean currents, sea levels, and distribution of plants and animals.
So, let’s take a look at some of the evidence that global warming is indeed happening.
In 2007, The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a body of several thousand atmospheric scientists, climatologists, glaciologists, oceanographers and other scientists, from over 100 countries, wrote in a report to the UN that it is more certain than ever that humanity is to blame for global warming. Of the research that has been done since 2001 into the link between human emissions of greenhouse gases and rising temperatures, Rajendra Patchouli, chairman of the IPCC, told Reuters that, “If one looks at just the scientific evidence that’s been collected it’s certainly becoming far more compelling. There is no question about it.”
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main culprit of global warming. It is released through the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas. According to Worldwatch Institute’s book State of the World 2002, “One clear finding is that carbon dioxide which is released into the atmosphere from the burning of fossils fuels is the single most important greenhouse gas in contributing to the warming of earth’s surface. Unprecedented increases in global temperatures have occurred in tandem with record levels of greenhouse gas concentrations and emissions. Since 1750, atmospheric CO2 concentrations have increased by 31%, with more than half of this increase occurring in the last 50 years. These are the highest levels in the last 420,000 years and most likely in the last 2 million years.”
With the increase of not only CO2 but also other “greenhouse gases” from cars and industrial processes, humanity is definitely contributing to the problem. Deforestation and other bad practices are also part of the human impact on global warming.
So is the Earth already showing signs of global warming? The answer is YES! According to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, average temperatures have climbed 1.4