Environmental Science Essay

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The planet is heating up, and fast. 2014,2015,2016, and 2017 have been recorded as the warmest years on Earth. We have noticed over the years that more glaciers have melted which has resulted in increased sea levels. Deforestation has forced our wildlife to flee from their habitats, and the carbon footprint is growing larger. It is evident that humans have heavily impacted what is being seen and known as global warming. In short, global warming is the gradual rise of temperature on Earth’s surface, oceans, and atmosphere. Already, global warming has had major impacts on our planet, that has significantly influenced our future. It is apparent that global warming is creating alarming dangers for the ecosystems we live in.

Global warming is not anything new. Research shows that global warming began long ago, almost 650,000 years ago. In later years, global warming took on another turn and that was human civilization. Over ninety-five percent of scientists scientifically concur that human activity has for at least a century has been interconnected with the patterns of warmer climates. The effect of human activity in the start of the Industrial Era in the 1750s brought more interesting concerns about global warming. During the late 1890’s Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius was the first to claim that the burning of fossil fuels may ultimately result in intensified global warming. Arrhenius’ proposal was a correlation between the concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and temperature. He found that the average surface temperature of the earth is about 15 degrees Celsius, because of the infrared absorption capacity of water vapor and carbon dioxide. This is called the natural greenhouse effect. Arrhenius suggested a doubling of the CO2 concentration would lead to a 5 degrees Celsius temperature rise. He and Thomas Chamberlin calculated that human activities could warm the earth by adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. This research was a by-product of research of whether carbon dioxide would explain the causes of the great Ice Ages. This was not actually verified until 1987.

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In discussing global warming, it is important to address the concept of the greenhouse effect. The surface of the Earth naturally warms by what is known as the greenhouse effect. Seems harmless, right? However, there are such things as greenhouse gases also known as GHG’s. Two common greenhouse gases among the many are carbon dioxide and methane. These greenhouse gases are both helpful and critical. They are helpful in that their presence helps supports all types of life on the planet. Greenhouse gases are critical to our Earth, because there would be no life without them. The bigger problem is when too much of these GHG’s are exposed in the atmosphere. The more amounts of GHG’s released, the warmer things will get and the more our weather patterns will change. The storms this year and last year are evidence that global warming can produce destructive irreversible consequences.

One of the leading causes of human impact on global warming is the amount of carbon dioxide emitted. Carbon dioxide is a gas that plays a large role in the greenhouse effect. It is the most common emitted greenhouse gas from human activities The United States is among the top three gas emitting countries with an average of 14 percent. It falls behind China with roughly 20 percent and behind the United States is India, representing with a little more than 5 percent.. The Environmental Protection Agency, (EPA) reported that in 2016, carbon dioxide equated for about 81.6% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. Although carbon dioxide is a natural gas used in the carbon cycle; humans have altered the amount of carbon dioxide released. The burning or combustion of fossil fuels emits the most carbon dioxide. Industries account for a percentage of the amounts of carbon dioxide emitted, but electricity and transportation are important factors as well. A study from 2016 explains that combustion from coal and other natural gases from different industries make up about 15 percent of total U.S. carbon dioxide emissions and 12 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Electricity and transportation, both considerably total 34 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. Industries use electricity, which helps add to this total amount. Transportation covers all types of transportation, whether by air, road, rail, or underwater.

Another issue in discussing global warming is how to control the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted. It is important that there must be some type of management that limits the total amounts of greenhouse gases that are dangerous for our ecosystems. There are many initiatives, rules, and regulations that have been in place to do just that and help the future of our environment. Among these laws is the Clean Air Act which regulates air emissions and air pollutants that are hazardous. The Clean Air Act’s objective is to protect the health and welfare of the public. The Clean Water Act (CWA) provides the primary framework for controlling the spread of pollutants into the United States waterways and control quality standards of the water on Earth’s surface. The objective of the Clear Water Act (CWA) was enacted in the late 1940s. It was first known as the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. In 1972, after the first act was impressively restructured and organized, it became what it is known as today, the Clean Water Act.

So, the question now is, ‘’ Are we able to fix global warming?’’ ‘’Can we stop climate change?’’ Well, while some skeptics believe we are not able to fix global warming or stop it, however it is possible. It is possible, if we reduce the amounts of gases being emitted into the atmosphere. It will not be easy, and it will not be accomplished overnight. There are laws and regulations established to help in the efforts to reduce greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide. All humans have to be a part of this process, as this is the only way it will be effective. It is difficult to stop or know how to exactly reduce greenhouse gas emission, because it is something that if we did not have it; we could not survive. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that we would have to limit the amounts of emissions by greenhouse gases by at least half to avoid harmful adjustments in climate. Princeton University researchers Stephen Pacala and Robert Socolow approach to global warming is stabilization wedges. This includes varying between advanced technologies and methods that will reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. Pacala and Socolow created fourteen types of stabilization wedges, but they believe that using seven of the stabilization wedges will be beneficial. Among the stabilization wedges are developments in more efficient energy uses and vehicles. This wedge will reduce the amount of greenhouse gases to be emitted, because less energy is needed. They also speak about the scientific knowledge of the ability to store carbon dioxide underground from a technique, called carbon sequestration.

Drastic times calls for drastic measures. For many years, humans have harmed the environment in ways unimaginable. Now, we are living in a world that is daily becoming worse, because of some of the same actions from humans. Again, it is evident that human influences have damaged our Earth so much that it will take multiple efforts over a lengthy period to repair. All preventive measures used can help overcome this battle. Things as simple as using less-energy efficient light bulbs, carpooling, unplugging electrics when not in use, and reduce water use amounts. Carbon dioxide is a threat to our ecosystems and our health. It is our job as humans to protect our land and although this will be challenging; it is possible. Global help has already began with World Bank supporting programs in less developing countries that will reduce amount of greenhouse gases emitted. Help is also need from governments, states, and locally. The time to prepare is now. The time to act is now; before it’s too late.

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