It is most people's belief that global warming is all about having a hot day, week or a month at a certain period of time and place which is actually not the case. Global warming basically has to do with the average worldwide temperature. In short it can be defined as the increasing of the earth's average surface temperature over time. This current warming started in the mid 19th century and in the beginning it was actually small and gradual.
It was until in 1980s that the rapid earth's average surface temperature was noticed and ever since it has been climbing. The period between 1995 and 2007 recorded the hottest temperatures where the overall global temperature rose by 1.40F since 1900 (Johnson, 2009).
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The effects of global warming have therefore affected the sea levels. Warmer temperatures usually raise sea level and this is by expanding ocean water, melting mountain glaciers and parts of the Greenland ice sheet. In this paper therefore I am going to discuss how global warming has an effect on rising the sea levels around the countries of Bangladesh and Honduras and then highlight the possible causes and solutions to such problems.
The rise in sea level, increased frequency of floods and cyclones and the other changes in weather patterns are some of the implications of global warming in Bangladesh that can identified. Global climate change and in particular global warming due to the green house effect has increasingly been raising serious concerns in the recent times both amongst scientists and even the general public.
Bangladesh stands out as one of the countries that are likely to be most critically and adversely affected by the impacts of such a global warming and the subsequent rises in sea level that has the potential to affect the low lying areas along the coastal line. This belief is based on the detailed research that has been carried out by a number of researchers in the recent past. The implications anticipated for Bangladesh are believed to be far more complex in nature that they will therefore require a much better understanding of the complexities of each sub-ecosystem. This is very necessary for the purpose of making a reasonable accurate and appropriate prediction and plans on an efficient response (Sinha, 1998).
An approximate 50% of the world's population lives in the coastal regions. Many of these people are already living under stress. The sea levels already have been rising rapidly for approximately the last 180 centuries as a result of the global warming and the impacts on low lying coastal areas that are already subject to flooding are expected to be much greater. Bangladesh is one of these countries that are most vulnerable to a rise in sea level (Sinha, 1998).
As I had earlier mentioned, the implications of green house effect on Bangladesh are expected to be complex as compared to many other countries. This is because it is a Southern Asia low lying deltaic region that has a substantial coastline and at the same time three major rivers systems commonly known as; Ganges, Brahmaputra, and the Meghna which flow through it in a basically north to south direction and carrying approximately 1.5 to 2.4 billions tones of sediment from the Himalayan Mountains annually. This is happening as it is being hit by monsoon precipitation from clouds coming from the south to the north many times preceded by violent cyclonic storms and tidal waves. When the enhanced river water flow and monsoon precipitation combine, they usually result in flooding of a large part of the country causing widespread distress and damage (Sinha, 1998).
One of the commonly known geologically young and dynamic deltas is the Bangladesh coast. On top of this, much of the coastal area where certain parts are actually an active delta, that is still being formed lied within an approximate of less that 1M above sea level. This area has shown signs of being susceptible to inundation if and when the sea level rises (Sinha, 1998).
One thing that most researchers agree on is the fact that whatever the impact on this country is, it definitely will involve a complex interplay of the different ecosystems and in particular the coastal systems. It is also likely to have an effect on all the components of the ecosystem, in particular the terrestrial, aquatic, and the human systems (Pritchard, 2005).
It has been postulated that the country is likely to experience an inundation of up to 33% of its geographical area (Sinha, 1998). This is as a result of the rise in sea level that is by 1 to 3m. The inundation has been reached at by taking the contour line of 1 and 3m above sea level of the country and then calculating the habitation, land, and production to get an estimation of the size of damage (Sinha, 1998)..
When we look at a country like Honduras, just as the other poor and vulnerable countries it is likely to suffer worst from the effects of the climate change. As per now it is quite hard to say whether the hurricanes the country has experienced was as a result of the global warming and the subsequent rise in sea levels. Even though, the increase in air and water temperatures has for sure increased the evaporation and energy in the climate system (Chamley, 2003).
The level of tree felling in Honduras for a long time has been on the high hence the destruction of water catchment areas. Desertification as commonly known usually leads to change of weather temperatures to a high (Cline, 2007). This warming has led to warmer ocean temperatures that in hand causes seawater to evaporate in great amounts and excessive water vapor rises to the air shedding more heat into the air as the vapor cools down. As the evaporation from water surfaces continues, global warming also causes the melting of glaciers that hence result in higher sea levels. The challenge therefore at this point is that the global temperature is now rising faster than at any time during the last 100 centuries (Roberts, 2007).
An evidence of the situation in Honduras is the continued abandonment of various settlements in Port Honduras that has been attributed to the threats of the rising sea levels that became scary everyday. For example, there has been an abandonment of the salt water shops in Punta Ycacos Lagoon due to the rising sea levels (Mckillop, 2005).
The causes of global warming can be summarized as being both natural and manmade. Some of the natural causes that are created by nature are; release of methane gases that are emitted from the arctic tundra and wetlands and also the fact that the earth goes through a cycle of climate change which usually lasts for about 40,000 years (National Research Council (U.S) on Geosciences, 1994).
To have a better understanding of the first cause i.e. the natural causes, it is important to mention at this point that methane is a greenhouse gas that is very harmful to the environment. The greenhouse gas can be described as a gas that traps heat in the earth's atmosphere (Maslin, 2007).
On the other hand, man-made causes involve pollution that comes in many shapes and sizes. One form of pollution is the burning of fossil fuels that are made of organic matter e.g. coal that which give off a green house gas commonly known as CO2. Another major man made because is population. This can be explained by mentioning that the higher the population the higher the demand for food and transportation, hence this will translate into more methane as a result of the increased burning of fossil fuels (National Research Council (U.S) on Geosciences, 1994).
Many researchers have proposed a number of solutions to this global tragedy that threatens the survival of human beings. One major one is to reduce the levels of polluting the environment. We should try to embrace the proposed alternatives of conventional energy sources like geothermal energy (Degunther, 2009). There is some technological advancement that has been proposed to assist in solving this challenge. One of these technological solutions is called Solar Photo-voltaics (PVs) which are arrays of cells containing a material that converts solar radiation into direct current electricity. Some of these materials that are already in use today are; amorphous silicon, polycrystalline silicon, micro-crystalline silicon and cadmium telluride. Another technological advancement is the Concentrated Solar Power which is an invention by which sunlight is concentrated by mirrors or reflective lenses to heat fluids in a collector at high temperature.
It therefore important for everyone to protect the world and our future generations from the dangerous effects of global warming that may be physical, ecological, social and economical. It should be taken as a collective responsibility by all the countries since dangers from certain parts of the world are likely to affect even the innocent.