Good Example Of Global Warming And Its Dangers Research Paper
Global warming is defined as the gradual rising of temperatures within the Earth’s atmosphere. This issue has become an extremely divisive and prevalent one in recent years, as the scientific community becomes increasingly aware and confident of our complicity and role in the increase of the world’s temperatures over the last few decades. As it stands, global warming is already having a devastating effect on the world’s ecosystem, causing temperatures to rise in the Earth’s oceans, melting the polar ice caps, and raising sea levels to dangerous heights. Despite the protests of some who doubt the veracity of climate change science, and the surprising democratization of science as something to be debated rather than accepted as fact, global warming is an extremely urgent, immediate concern that must be dealt with, largely through finding a way to limit and mitigate the impact that humans have on the environment.
There are a number of possible explanations and causes for global warming, but the most common one is the greenhouse effect – carbon emissions rising from the Earth’s surface to the atmosphere, becoming trapped in the ozone layer and providing a barrier within the atmosphere that increases in volume as more carbon emissions are made (EPA, 2014). This has the effect of trapping solar radiation within our atmosphere, rather than letting it escape into outer space, making global temperatures rise as the heat from the sun has nowhere to go. The implications for the planet and humanity’s way of life if global warming is not addressed in a comprehensive manner are immense. If left unchecked, sea levels will rise at an incalculable rate, the polar ice caps will melt, and this will result in less livable land mass upon which humans can live. Because of this, it is essential that we take steps to address global warming and its man-made causes.
Global warming has brought about a substantial number of ecological and environmental changes, all of which contribute to the rising temperatures and worsening of environmental conditions on the planet. First and foremost are the aforementioned increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; carbon dioxide concentrations have spread from nearly 280 microliters per liter (uL/L) to 355 uL-L since 1800, which is a unique jump in concentrations from any time in the past 160,000 years (Vitousek 1861). Secondly, the global nitrogen cycle is changing in a substantial way, to the point that more nitrogen is being produced by man than by all other natural sources put together (Vitousek 1861). Lastly, the increase in land use and land cover has had a dramatic effect on ecosystems, mostly due to the spread of industrialization and manufacturing overtaking ecosystems and forcing animals out of their natural habitats. These factors lead to the environmental changes that are happening all across the globe, and leading to climate change and the subsequent loss in biodiversity the planet has been experiencing (Vitousek 1862).
The biggest problem with the issue of global warming is what to do about human activities, which have a significant impact on global warming through our work to increase carbon emissions through burning of fossil fuels. The industrialization and globalization of modern world commerce and technology has led to our society being tremendously depend on power, which is typically sourced from oil and fossil fuels (Weart, 2004). As a result, more and more carbon emissions are pumped into the air from power plants and cars, which contributes even more to the greenhouse effect. Not only that, the creation of non-biodegradable products such as plastics and Styrofoam contribute to the increased usage and filling of landfills, which take up more and more space on land and also emits more toxic chemicals into the atmosphere (EPA, 2014). With these activities and more, human activities absolutely have a huge, substantial and active role in global warming, directly linking the rise and spread of consumerism with global temperature increases.
Perhaps more alarming, however, is the surprising amount of skepticism that has arisen from climate change deniers who posit that global warming is overblown, or that it is not a cause for concern, or that it is not happening at all. Much of this doubt has come from the increasingly complex role of science and scientists in a democracy, as the public has seemingly overblown any sense of scientific “uncertainty” into a sense of doubt over the otherwise-sensible veracity of scientists and science as a practice (Jordan, 2007). Climate change denial groups latch on to any possible misstep or miscalculation in scientific data as evidence of a major debate and controversy over the existence of global warming altogether, when in fact this is simply not true (Jordan, 2007). The political climate over climate change has become extremely polarized, with two camps vehemently arguing over one another over whether or not the scientific consensus is real (McCright & Dunlap 155).
This type of skepticism and firm denial of what is ostensibly considered facts based on sound science is a curious effect of the level of emotion that plays into the climate change debate. Studies indicate that people will use emotion as a guiding force in their decision making more than scientific fact or logic, which is the case for people on both sides of the climate change debate (Smith and Leiserowitz 937). Increased policy support for climate change legislation is associated, for example, with “worry, interest and hope,” while denial of climate change is associated with a lack of worry and anger (Smith & Leiserowitz 937). In this way, it is clear that people’s reactions to the climate change debate relate very closely with their level of emotions to the issue, rather than the presence of scientific fact.
In the end, what appears to be happening is a group of people fearful of changing the “industrial status quo,” and the economic and political changes that would come with it. To deny climate change and global warming is to allow a deeply-entrenched political system to maintain itself in the short-term at the expense of the planet, which is in keeping with the “human tendency to want to continue with the familiar” (Jordan, 2007). As a result, it is clear that the denial of climate change as a real and scientifically-accepted phenomenon is a result of the desire to keep things as they are, and not change them even if the planet and all its inhabitants are at stake. In short, the centuries-long practice of industrial capitalism is thought by many to be the central problem inherent to anthropogenic global warming, due to the use of fossil fuels, and those siding with the scientific consensus advocate for a reduction in this practice in order to limit its effects on the environment (McCright & Dunlap 155).
There are many things that can be done on an individual level to curb the spread of global warming. First of all, finding ways to integrate more recyclable products and fewer non-biodegradable goods into our daily lives is essential to reducing one’s carbon footprint. The cultivation and proliferation of energy-efficient technologies, such as halogen and LED lights, and the more prudent use of electricity (e.g. turning off lights when they are not being used) in daily life is essential to the reduction of greenhouse gases. Mass transit and bicycles are other efficient ways to facilitate travel without contributing dramatically to the greenhouse effect. Landfills can be limited in their growth through greater use of recyclable goods and composting. Group efforts, including environmental groups and letter-writing campaigns to legislators, can help to provide greater public interest and action on behalf of governments. With these actionable steps, it may be possible to make real strides in the addressing of the global warming issue.
In conclusion, global warming is a very real and immediate threat to the environment, as well as the future of mankind in its current form. The continued spread of industrialization and the use of fossil fuels is bringing about more intense droughts, heat waves, precipitation, and inclement weather, and having tremendous impacts on both plant and animal species throughout the planet (Myers et al. 1). Even more alarming, however, is the pretense of a climate change debate among groups of people heavily invested in keeping modern industrial society at its current state, when the presence of a nearly-unanimous scientific consensus requires action to be taken sooner rather than later. Despite the skepticism and denial of these dissenting voices, it is evident that temperatures are rising due to human intervention with our environment, and steps must be made to address these impending factors of global warming.
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