Global warming is defined as the continuous rise in atmospheric and ocean temperatures of the Earth. Records show that there has been a gradual rise in temperature that has affected the ecological system and balance. Australian and international scientists have all agreed that the rise ac n be attributed to the rise in amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The most common greenhouse gas is Carbon Dioxide (CO2). The gases are as a result of burning of fossil fuels and the act of deforestation.
It has been found out that the average surface temperature of the earth rose by 0.74 degrees Celsius in the 20th century period alone. In the 21st century it is projected that the surface temperature will rise from 1.5 to reach 1.9°C for a case of lowest emissions and from 3.4 up to 6.1 in cases of high emission.
The question of where greenhouses gases come from then comes up. In the case of Australia, for example, the major pollutants are the people’s activities. In the developed world, Australian citizens are the top per-person producers of green house gases. The major producers of these emissions are: 50% comes from energy production. Australia produces 80% of its energy from coal, a major producer of CO2. This accounts for over 97% of all emissions. It is followed by 16% from agriculture wastes mainly from fertilizers and cattle. Another 14% comes from come from transport exhumes. 6% is attributed to land use changes as 5% is fro industry exhumes such as aluminum and cement production.
Since 1990, the emissions in Australia have gradually risen. Water, gas and electricity emissions have risen by 47% while emissions from mining by 48%. Household emissions have increased by 29%. Services, transport and construction have shot up by 23% as have emissions from manufacturing by 3%. It is worth noting that the amount of greenhouse gases differs from place to place and that Australia has been used as an example of the effects of global warming
The effects of the rise in global temperatures include a change in the pattern and amount of precipitation. There is also the probable expansion of deserts. Others are the frequent incidence of extreme weather conditions. They are drought, heat waves and heavy rainfall. Species will also become extinct due to climatic changes as agricultural yields will fall.
The Australian government has in the view of this, taken measures to combat the problem to prevent further damage to its environment. Similar measures have been taken globally. One of the measures is mitigation which can be defined reducing the amount of future climate change. They are the activities aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and/or to improve the ability of carbon sinks to absorb greenhouse gases from the earth’s atmosphere. Australia and the world at large in developed and developing countries aim at use of cleaner and less polluting technologies. The use aids mitigation and is thus believed to a big reduction particularly in CO2 emissions. The policies that have been taken include targeting emission reduction, an increase in energy efficiency and renewable energy increase.
The problem is that the situation continues to be more difficult. This is solely because high rates of emissions per year will lead to more extreme changes in later years so as to be able to stabilize the desired atmospheric balance of gases. A worrying trend is that energy-related CO2 emissions in 2010 are a record highest in history. This broke the previous record set in 2008.
Even as much as governments struggle to fight fossil fuel use, the war can not be worn. Fossil fuels will continue to be used for many years in future. Mitigation could also include carbon capture strategies and storage. This is a process that seeks to capture CO2 produced by gas or coal power stations and then store it.
Another advanced policy is called adaptation which basically entails adaptation to the changes to changes. The government through its local and national government has certain plans to climate changes. So as to adapt, the ability is linked to the economic and social development of the country. In fact, planned adaptation is already taking place though on a limited basis. The problem remains that the barriers, costs and actual limits of this policy are not fully understood.
Another measure is geoengineering. Thus is basically the deliberate modification to the climate system. This measure has previously been coupled with mitigation. Reliable estimates of costs for such projects have not been drawn. The measures are undergoing development as at now. It involves processes that remove excess CO2 from the atmosphere and that reflect away incoming sunlight. It is necessary that the measures are taken globally since such measures will affect the whole globe. It would require acceptance plus an adequate worldwide legal regulatory outline. This would also be bolstered by further scientific study of the same,
The measures to curb global warming in Australia have not scored well. The drought situation in some areas coupled with the many bush fires continue to tell of a lost war. Scientists continue to warn that Australia continues to suffer from its prolonged drought and increasingly dangerous bush fires in south. There is monsoon flooding in the south that is accompanied by mosquito infliction. There is decreasing wildlife population and downfall of agriculture and the ever disturbing heat waves all epitomize the crisis that is global warming in Australia. A majority of Australians continue to feel that have a worrying death toll directly culminating from the effects of climate change. In February 2009, 173 people were killed by wildfires, the country’s biggest.
A commission has already been set up to come up with a decision whether the savage bush fires that caused the destruction of whole towns and death of a quarter of the wildlife in Victoria were caused by global warming. In fact, a week before the fires, 200 people had died from the effects of a heat wave. The four-day period had been characterized by 110 degrees averages that were also characterized by 100mph of wind. This continues to show that the measures taken have not managed to avert the problem.
The barriers are gigantic and varied. They are technological, behavioral and political. They all narrow down to implementation plans and the different economic ideas of countries. An example is the new law that seeks to raise fuel economy values to 35 mile for every gallon by year 2020 is a good idea for motorists the world over. However, the annual increase in the number of miles driven by about 2.2% suggests that there will be 30% rise by 2020. In as much as the law will help save 1.1 million oil barrels on a daily basis, the anticipated rise in miles that are driven will thus leave the emissions from transportation sector in 2020 slightly higher than today’s case. This is having in mind the global aim for a 70% reduction in carbon emission.
The general public is always reminded that approximately 20% home energy decrease can be realized. Thus is with a four to five year yield on investment if people allow themselves to bite an easy bullet of changing light bulbs, lowered thermostats and efficient appliances. That would be a great move but with the longstanding yearly population growth rates of approximately 1% continue and all people start doing these things even tomorrow; the carbon emissions will still stand at the current levels in the coming 18 years. Again not everyone is likely to follow the instructions.
The major barriers to reversing the problem of global warming mirror the impertinence of carbon as it is widespread across borders. The barrier comes as a result of the widespread CO2 emission with few countries taking measures to combat the problem. Politics are also a barrier as the world wide legislation against global warming has been riddled by political interference.
Due to the magnitude of this issue which has been called a crisis by researchers, there have been numerous strategies to combat the problem. The problems have been aimed at slowing the problem. The measures in general include energy efficiency plus conservation, quotas on fossil fuel production, alternative sources of energy, the capture of carbon, solar shades, and international treaties, legal action, societal controls and personal choiceLooking at the current successful strategies, the best can be said to be strategies that combine energy efficiency/conservation or the common term “going green.” The strategy has been taken by many nations with use of more efficient sources of energy with lower production of CO2 the target. Another one is the development of alternative sources of energy. They include nuclear, hydro, wind and solar power which do not produce CO2 as a by product. Billions have been devoted to alternative energy projects. But fossil fuels are still the main power source for producing electricity globally.
The political scenario has been a major player in the fight against global warming. A majority of nations are members of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The convention’s main agenda has been to prevent the hazardous human interfering of the climate system. The convention has categorically stated that for thus to be achieved, it requires that green house gases concentrations be stabilized within the atmosphere at the level at which ecosystems can easily adapt naturally to the ever present changes in climate.
The politics involved with this worldwide crisis have generally encompassed corporate lobbying, public relations ventures by coal and oil companies and funding of special interest campaigns. All this campaigns have directly policy decisions and the global decisions regarding the issue. In turn it has been the cause of political debate over the scientific implications and the measures towards global warming. In a majority of English-speaking nations, the support for actions that mitigate for example ratification and the enactment of the Kyoto protocol have been strong in the political agenda. It is important to look at how the debate has grown to such a political spectacle that it is believed by that there will be various forms of social catastrophe that will arise due to the current political environment surrounding the issue.
Richard Nixon in 1969 was the best first politician to put global warming on the political agenda. He wanted topics that are related to the environment such as greenhouse effect and acid rain to be addressed by a civil pillar of the NATO. NATO’s reaction was lukewarm but the issue gained popularity in the civil field (Withgott, 2009 p. 311). Margret Thatcher was another influential figure who in 1980, lead to the reduction of UK electricity production from coal to North Sea gas. Angela Merkel was the leader in this field in Germany. She was the secretary of the environment in the conservative era of Helmut Kohl. She was influential in the creation of the Kyoto treaty and in its final implementation.
In the case of Australia, the Prime minister, Kevin Rudd made his fast action as the premier to be the ratification of the Kyoto protocol. This was to be in time for the major talks on the Kyoto protocol in Bali. This was in the December of 2007 and it shows that since he had just taken over, the issue was high on his agenda. In general, Canada, New Zealand and the USA have all taken certain measures to endorse the Kyoto protocol even though countries such as the US are not bound to it.
The biggest political issue that is bound to cause a social upheaval is the issue of Global warming skepticism. The growing issuehas been endorsed by newspapers which are directly associated with the right. They include the Australian for our local scenario, the National Post in Canada and the Daily Telegraph in the UK.