Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Environmental Issues, Climate, Climate Change, Sea, Carbon Dioxide, Warming, Global Warming, Carbon

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/09/09

Irreversible Consequences of Global Warming

“Climate change is essentially irreversible.” Six years ago this month – in January 2009 – Susan Solomon, a top climate scientist, authored a scientific study which reached that conclusion. The problem is that the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, so even if all fossil fuel emissions (power generation, road transport fuels, etc., etc.) were ended today, the levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere would not be reduced. If on the other hand we continue to generate more carbon dioxide emissions, postponing any serious efforts to reduce them, the climate change will accelerate, eventually threatening the future of the human race (Harris 2009).
Another article provides some basic information about global warming and its effects. It explains that the US is the world’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, yet is doing less about it than other nations. Under the sub-heading “What is Global Warming?” the article explains that the CO2 in our atmosphere functions like a blanket holding in the heat, causing the overall temperatures to rise. The normal balance of Earth’s atmospheric conditions maintain the temperatures around the world in a narrow band that enables us to live and creates the conditions for the necessary clean air and water and the weather systems that we need to live. By causing the CO2 levels to rise dramatically, the human race is affecting the stability of that system, not only will temperatures rise along with global sea levels, but there will be an increasing number of fierce and destructive storms. The sea levels are rising because the already increased temperatures are causing rapid melting of the polar ice sheets. It is currently predicted that within the next century or so; the cumulative sea level rise will be circa six feet, which will be disastrous for the majority of the world’s coastal populations. Although the population of the US is just four percent of the world’s total, as a nation it causes almost a quarter of the global greenhouse gas emissions (“Learn More” n.d.).
Whilst “climate change” and “global warming” are terms that most of us have heard frequently in recent years, it is likely that few of us are aware of the true seriousness of the current situation. The problem is that there are major obstacles in the way of making those necessary changes to the way we live. Those include the need by privately-owned energy generation companies to continue to make profits to satisfy their shareholders. They are unlikely to decide for altruistic motives to incur huge costs and probable business losses by converting to energy generation using renewable energy sources. In addition, there is a high probability that politicians have an eye on potential votes when considering any energy policy or legislation which might – due to any immediate and short-term consequences – be unpopular with their electorate. To overcome those obstacles and others, it is important that individuals make their voices heard – to let the political leaders know that we not only want to counter global warming for our own sakes, but more importantly for the sake of our descendants, the future generations who will inherit the hostile Earth environment that will exist if we postpone action until it is too late.
The campaign for urgent action has been joined by actor Leonardo Di Caprio, who is an ardent supporter of action to mitigate climate change, and was recently named as a UN Messenger of Peace. Speaking at the September 2014 UN Climate Summit in New York, he told the 125 or so heads of state present that “Clean air and water, and a livable climate are inalienable human rights. And solving this crisis is not a question of politics. It is our moral obligation – if, admittedly a daunting one.” Di Caprio also itemised some of the increasingly-intensifying effects of global warming already being experienced, including the long-lasting severe droughts, the increasing temperatures and acidity of the oceans, the extremes of weather, and the ever-increasing loss of the polar ice caps. Di Caprio was also joined by US former US Vice President Al Gore, who is also an activist in this area. Referring to the current lack of real progress in securing global agreement on the needed action, he stated: “All we need is political will.” Referring to a climate change demonstration march in Manhattan the previous weekend – attended by circa 400,000 people – Gore stated that the numbers attending proves that “we are entering a period of hope” (Gallucci 2014).
But if the scientific and other warnings are ignored and the world’s nations simply plough on regardless, paying no more than lip service to the idea of dramatically and urgently reducing carbon emissions, what will be the effects on our planet and on the lives of future generations? According to a 2014 Washington Post article, quoting a recent UN report: “The planet faces a future of extreme weather, rising sea levels and melting polar ice from soaring levels of carbon dioxide and other gases” (Warrick and Mooney 2014).
The same report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that: “Only an unprecedented global effort to slash emissions within a relatively short time period will prevent temperatures from crossing a threshold that scientists say could trigger far more dangerous disruptions” (Warrick and Mooney 2014). As an indication of the credibility of the report and its findings, the Washington Post article reports that the report is the result of five years of direct measurements of carbon dioxide amounts in the atmosphere and the findings of many scientific studies. Whilst the existing effects on our planet’s ecosystems are to some extent already irreversible, the report warns that the consequences and impacts of not taking meaningful action will become greater the longer we delay. Whereas in the past there has been a degree of controversy over whether human activity is the direct cause of the climate change, this latest report by the IPCC gives that probability as “extremely likely” which in IPCC-speak is equal to at least a 95 percent certainty. Furthermore, the report claims that the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are higher today than they have been in the previous 800,000 years, and circa 40 percent greater than in the pre-industrial era (Warrick and Mooney 2014).
The “Learn More” article referenced earlier predicts a range of adverse consequences of continued global warming, including the spread of tropical diseases such as malaria and dengue fever into hitherto unaffected parts of the world such as the US, caused by the spread of the disease-carrying mosquitoes and rodents. In contrast, if prompt action is taken to counter global warming, the effects of a rapid transition to the widespread use of renewable energy can not only protect the health of the human race but will also help protect our habitats and our wildlife species. Furthermore, the activity involved will create employment and contribute to a better future for the coming generations (“Learn More” n.d.).
Just that single prospect of rising sea levels is a major threat to the majority of the world’s cities, which were established in recent times (historically) in a period when sea levels remained relatively stable. However, since the middle of the 19th century, human activity has caused the sea levels to rise. Recent measurements indicate that the annual rate of rise has increased to about 3.1 mm, and is predicted to increase even more. Although the actual amount of future sea level rise is uncertain, there is bound to be a major impact on the more than 600 million people who live in coastal areas around the world. Considerable areas of land will be inundated, which will be particularly difficult to cope with for countries with limited resources. Smaller island nations also lack sufficient land for their populations to relocate to, and their fresh water aquifers will in all probability will be contaminated by seawater (“Oceans & Sea Level Rise: Consequences of Climate Change on the Oceans” n.d.).

The research has shown that not only is global warming a real and serious problem, but that urgent global action is needed if the consequent effects of climate change –already irreversible – are not to become even worse, threatening the existence of future generations.

Works Cited:

Gallucci, Maria. (Sept. 2014). “UN Climate Change Summit: Leonardo DiCaprio Says Global Leaders Have Moral Duty To Confront Climate Challenge.” International Business Times. Web. Accessed 3 January 2015. URL: <http://www.ibtimes.com/un-climate-change-summit-leonardo-dicaprio-says-global-leaders-have-moral-duty-confront-1693612>.
Harris, Richard. (Jan. 2009). “Global Warming Is Irreversible, Study Says.” National Public Radio (NPR). Web. Accessed 2 January 2015. URL: <http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99888903>.
“Oceans & Sea Level Rise: Consequences of Climate Change on the Oceans.” (n.d.). The Climate Institute. Web. Accessed 3 January 2015. URL: <http://www.climate.org/topics/sea-level/>.
Warrick, Joby and Mooney, Chris. (Nov. 2014). “Effects of climate change ‘irreversible,’ U.N. panel warns in report.” The Washington Post: Health & Science. Web. Accessed 3 January 2015. URL: <http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/effects-of-climate-change-irreversible-un-panel-warns-in-report/2014/11/01/2d49aeec-6142-11e4-8b9e-2ccdac31a031_story.html>.
“Learn More.” (n.d.). stopglobalwarming.org. Web. Accessed 3 January 2015. URL: <http://www.stopglobalwarming.org/learn/>.

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Example Of Conclusions Research Paper. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/example-of-conclusions-research-paper/. Published Sep 09, 2020. Accessed April 19, 2021.

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