One of the most challenging extant environmental problems is global warming. This refers to the change in climate that leads to an increase in the average atmosphere temperatures. Global warming is caused by a number of factors but it is primarily associated with human action and more especially the excessive release of greenhouses gases into the atmosphere. Examples of these human activities leading to increase in the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere include burning of fossil fuels (oil, coal and natural gas). These greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, water vapor, fluorinated gases and methane. These gases trap the sun’s heat from escaping back into the space. It is undeniable that over the past five or so decades, global warming has been the trend and as thus, society and the world at large has to be informed on the mechanisms through which the consequences of this condition can be lessened. This paper therefore aims at explaining the greenhouse effect as the principal issues behind global warming, the effects suffered from global warming, and the efforts taken to combat the condition.
The sun is the main source of the energy that lights and warms the earth. Most of this light reaches the earth’s surface as short-wave radiation but on hitting the earth’s surface it changes to long-wave infrared radiation which bounces back to the space (World Almanac 5). However, there is a certain percentage of this infrared radiation that is trapped by the earlier mentioned greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. On absorption and the subsequent reflection of these long-waves radiations to the surface of the earth, more heat is conserved on the surface of the earth (World Almanac 5). With the percentage of these gases in the atmosphere increasing, the amount of the heat trapped below increase. It is this trapping of the infrared radiation that is referred to as the greenhouse effect (Hart 2).
Effects of Global Warming
Global warming leads to the heating up of the earth, causing the shrinking of the arctic and mountain glaciers. As thus, these regions have lighter winters. The condition also leads to higher evaporation rates of the oceans and thus the world becomes more humid. The greater humidity levels will cause increase in the amount of rainfall leading to flooding. Conversely, more evaporation may lead to the faster drying up of soils (NDRC 1). From the above discussion, it is clear that global warming alters the patterns of weather and these changes will all through remain unpredictable. Moreover, sea levels are expected to rise as ice on polar waters melts up due to global warming. The increased heat will also impact on agricultural practices in varied ways. While in Southern Canada crop production is bound to increase due to the condition, most parts in Africa will become more impoverished due to escalation of deserts-like condition which do not favor crop production. Human health will also be negatively affected with global warming leading to the increase of diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, encephalitis and dengue fever (Kolbert 1).
Efforts to Control Global Warming
The current challenge is how to manage the effects of global warming by taking initiatives to thwart injurious climatic changes in the future. Global warming can only be reduced via the slowing down of the buildup of the greenhouse gases (NRDC 1). This can be realized by freeing the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and its components, a strategy referred to as carbon sequestration or by reducing the production of the greenhouse gases. Planting of more trees is the simplest strategy of carbon sequestration since forests soak great levels of carbon dioxide. Local and national programs have also been put in place to help reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. These include the imposition of heavy taxes on energy usage (Hart 6). International agreements on the reduction of such gases have also been signed. An example is the Kyoto Protocol which requires nations to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases significantly.
Owing to the adverse effects that global warming has on the world, each and every stakeholder has to take the necessary steps in lowering the levels of these greenhouse gases so as to remedy the current situation. People should understand that greenhouse gases trap heat on the earth surface leading to increased average temperatures. These increase in heat leads to melting of ice, excessive evaporation, and health complications among other effects which are catastrophic to human life. Lastly, efforts to curb global warming, such as reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, reforestation, and highly taxing heavy energy users, should be stepped up. Anything possible and feasible should be employed to save the planet earth.