‘no One Made A Greater Mistake Than He Who Did Nothing Because He Could Do So Little.’ Essays Examples
‘Global Warming’ – a term frequently heard in the recent days and the center of hot debates on climate and environment. On one hand we have the COP Paris meeting where world leaders convened to take a stance on climate change issues and find solutions for problems faced. Climate scientists and environmentalists are literally warning that global warming issues, if left unnoticed, will take us closer to our ‘doomsday’. The term ‘El Nino and ‘La Nina’ are being attributed to every uncommon rain, hail and sunshine. On the other hand, a fair number of people, from all walks of the society are dismissing the idea of global warming; they claim it as a hoax put forward by certain persons as a public attraction tool. So, what is the true story? Is global warming really happening? Is our climate going to face unnatural changes?
Before we jump to conclusions, we need to know that global warming is completely natural. It happens due to a phenomenon called ‘greenhouse effect’. When sunlight enters our atmosphere, gases present in it trap some energy before sunlight reaches the earth. The surface of the earth reflects back the light from its surface which on its return journey to the atmosphere again gets trapped a little in the gases. This trapped energy warms the earth just like a greenhouse and helps life to sustain on it. Now the problem is that if the ratio the ‘greenhouse gases’ (like CO2, methane, water vapor) increase in the atmosphere, the earth gets warmed up more than it is required and this causes a shift from natural climate. Man-made activities have increased this ratio. So we can confidently say that global warming is a real happening and not a concept conjured by anyone. The fact that we are able to experience summer and feel warm air is a proof for global warming. But what we need to be wary of is the excessive warming caused by human activities. The following observations compiled by climatologists show that elevated greenhouse activity has in fact changed our globe:
In the 1850’s, an approximate 4500km2 of Alps was glaciated. In 1970s the area had fallen to less than 3000km2. From 1970s to 2000, the rate of loss had increased to more than 8% per decade. In the last few decades some of the Himalayan glaciers (like the Ratakona glacier, Pindari and Milan glaciers) have got eroded or disappeared. In fact environmentalists fear that the mighty Ganges river itself would disappear due to the alarming erosion rate of its source the Gangotri glacier.
Since 1961, the average temperature of global ocean has increased to depths of 3000m and ocean has been absorbing more than 80% of the heat added to the system. This causes expansion of seas and a rise in sea levels.
Temperatures in the permafrost layer of the Arctic have increased from 1980’s by up to 3oC. Average Arctic temperatures have increased by almost twice the global average over the past 100 years. Since 1900, the frozen ground area has been decreasing by 7%. In 2002, an ice shelf called Larsen B disintegrated in a month’s time. It was about 200 m thick, and the ice that was released in this short time weighed about 720 billion tons. The collapse was attributed to the strong warming, about 0.5°C per decade. Similar losses of solid ice have been found in the Antarctic regions.
Coral reefs bleach when water becomes warm. The Great Barrier Reef in Australia suffered extensive bleaching in 2002 when the water temperature was higher than normal. A quarter of the world’s coral reefs are permanently lost every year due to warm sea waters.
The migration patterns of various species of birds and animals have changed. The journal ‘Global Change Biology’ published articles in 2007 that related the migration patterns to climatic change. For example, in Scotland, butterflies arrived 8 days earlier than they did
30 years before the study. Birds nested as much as 10 days earlier. The scientists examined 125 000 studies involving 561 species in European countries from 1971 to 2000. The study showed that 78% of all leafing, flowering, and fruiting were happening earlier in the year.
All the above observations point out that global warming is indeed taking place at a slow rate, but enough to trigger changes in the environment. Skeptics of global warming argue that they have not felt any warm climate and hence it is must be a myth. Their argument is that the data presented is not relevant. Partly, this resistance stems due to the over-exaggeration about global warming. It must be mentioned that global warming has always been happening; it may not have been felt in certain places because the climatic change data did not reach statistically significant levels until now. But in a few decades, as climatologists predict, the effects may become disastrous. Hence it is always better to take precautionary measures to safeguard ourselves without panicking. As Prof. Bjorn Lomborg says, it is time to take a sensible stand on the issue rather than feeling terrorized and proclaiming the end of the world. Carbon consumptions must be cut down, new protocols must be drawn; these should be done in parallel with other pressing issues such as poverty, droughts, starvation and medical issues such as malaria and HIV/AIDS. Also, the interests and needs of all the nations must be taken into consideration. Prevention should consider sustainable development, and not be at the cost of development. Because as British Parliamentarian Edmund Burke said,
something must be done.
Houghton, John. Global Warming The Complete Briefing. Third ed. New York: Cambridge UP, 2004. Print.
Lomborg, Bjorn. Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming. First ed. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007. Print.
Watts, Robert G. Global Warming and the Future of the Earth. San Rafael, Calif.: Morgan & Claypool, 2007. Print.