GLOBAL WARMING: A THREAT TO SUSTAINABILITY
Global warming is a current issue that should be given much attention because it affects the stability and sustainability of the planet. In some cinematic depictions, climate change will eventually lead to the annihilation of the whole mankind and all other living species on the planet as a result of mankind’s abuse of environmental resources and continued activities that prove detrimental to attaining a productive and sustainable environment. As a result of the irresponsible behavior of the many denizens of earth, the planet is being put into much predicament. International groups and even the local government is taking steps to delay or perhaps to totally avoid the more adverse effects of global warming but many environmentalists say that these steps being taken are not enough to halt the negative effects of the changing climate.
Global warming has many negative effects on mankind and biodiversity. It causes the spread of diseases because disease-carrying insects such as mosquitoes migrate as a result of changes in the temperature. Some scientists believe that failure to eradicate malaria in many countries is because of global warming.
1 Mosquitoes also cause dengue hemorrhagic fever which causes a lot of deaths in many third world countries.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), global warming would result in an increase in insect-born diseases in Great Britain and Europe. It also indicated that ticks and sandflies may also invade Northern Europe if the temperature would get warmer. Ticks contribute to the spread of encephalitis and lyme disease while sandflies spread visceral leishmaniasis. Paul R. Epstein, the associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, said that disease outbreaks caused by rats and mosquitoes may clearly be attributed to global warming as they seek other habitat when they feel the change in climate.
2 One of the more direct effects of global warming on health is the impact of hot temperature which causes deaths which may then be attributed to many other reasons. Mortality and hospital admissions statistics indicate that death rates increase on days that are extremely hot. These has been observed specially among very old and very young people in the cities. Sudden increases in temperature could kill people like in Chicago in July 1995 wherein a heat wave killed more than 700 people. Hotter temperature also results in an increase ozone concentration at low levels which could prove very harmful. The ozone layer acts as a shield from ultraviolet radiation but it can be very harmful when breathed in as it damages lung tissue and causes problems for asthmatic people and other people with respiratory and lung diseases.
3 Deforestation results in the loss of habitat for many animal species. This deforestation also greatly contributes to global warming and global warming further contributes to the destruction of biodiversity. Many species of plants and animals have already been lost because of the effects of climate change on them. For one, some species of birds are dying because climate change interferes with the birds migratory instincts. Some species of plants and animals are just unable to adapt because of sudden changes in temperature and rising water levels.
According to Peter Ward, a paleontologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, evidence shows that most mass extinction events in the history of the planet is attributable to gradual climate change. He said that the events in the Triassic period did not happen quickly and that the level of carbon dioxide during the era is 100 times of the rate of carbon dioxide in the present time. According to a study, the greatest mass extinction in history may be traced from the Permian period allegedly because of rising temperatures.
4 Global warming affects the weather such as more frequent occurrence of hurricanes or typhoons because of the rising water temperature in the oceans. While in some areas, global warming increases temperatures drastically that it results in long droughts and in a number of deaths because of heat waves. It also contributes to the melting of the polar ice caps which has many other consequences. All over the world, there are 5,773,000 cubic miles of permanent ice such as ice caps, glaciers and permanent snow. Based on the National Snow and Ice Data Center, sea levels would rise at an average of 230 feet if the ice caps would melt. The melting of the ice caps would also cause an imbalance in the ecosystem because the ice caps are frozen fresh water. Melting of these ice caps would result in desalinization of the ocean which affect the ocean current, temperature and biodiversity. Life forms in the arctic circle will be greatly affected in such a case and only those that can adapt to the changes will survive. Furthermore, the melting of the ice caps would contribute even more to global warming because if there are no ice caps, the sunlight reflected back into space is reduced and more sunlight is being absorbed. Ice caps are white and it reflects heat back into space. When there are no ice caps, the sea would only absorb the heat from the sun.
5 Heat is needed to maintain the present ecosystem but too much heat as a result of greenhouse gases results to significant increases in temperature and this is global warming. This is called the greenhouse effect because just like in a greenhouse, heat is being maintained which is not bad. It becomes bad when the heat becomes too much that it is already harmful. Human activities contribute greatly to global warming by hastening the production of greenhouse gases which traps heat in the earth’s atmosphere. These activities include the burning of natural gas, coal, oil and other fossil fuels which increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Farming practices increases produce methane and nitrous oxide which also contribute to the greenhouse effect. Many industries also produce these and other similar gases that contribute to global warming.
6 Overpopulation and deforestation are two interconnected problems that greatly affects climate change. Overpopulation alone leads to global warming because of significant increases in the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The situation is aggravated when overpopulation leads to deforestation when forest are being transformed into residential areas. Deforestation as a lone factor affects the climate but when deforestation and overpopulation band together, the planet is in double jeopardy. There are more people that breathe out carbon dioxide and there are less trees that would absorb carbon dioxide. Instead of having a balance of trees and humans, there is a great disparity between the two—too many people yet not enough trees to alleviate carbon dioxide levels. Carbon dioxide is considered as the main proponent of global warming as carbon dioxide was identified to have contributed to 60 percent of the increase in the greenhouse effect and it is forecasted that carbon dioxide levels will increase by more than 10 percent for every 20 years.
7 According to Achim Steiner, director of the United Nations Environment Program, “the human population is now so large that the amount of resources needed to sustain it exceeds what is available at the current consumption patters”. Population growth aggravated by unsustainable consumption rate has affected the planet in various ways such as natural disasters and environmental degradation that put humans and other living plant and animal species at high risk. Climate change now is an urgent threat that only large cuts of at least 60 to 80 percent in greenhouse gases could prevent irreversible damage.
8 The public is now more aware of issues regarding climate change as they were before. Many countries are now having talks on their own or with other countries on how to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and finding alternative sources of energy that do not produce greenhouse gases. The media also now is putting much concern on issues regarding climate change as it did before.
However, a recent survey indicate that although people are now more aware of the issue, there are only a few steps being done by corporate executives to alleviate climate change and its effects. Businesses are one of the biggest contributors to climate change because of the production process which often produces greenhouse emissions. Sixty percent of the respondents in the survey said that climate change is being considered as a part of their strategy while 44 percent paid no mind on climate change issues. Almost 70 percent of the respondents agreed that considering climate change is important in determining the overall business strategy. The survey also indicated that corporate reputation, media attention and consumer preferences are mostly the factors that influenced companies to consider climate change as a part of their corporate strategy.
9 One step that was viewed at stopping, reversing or slowing climate change from its tracks is the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol aims at making commit to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate the effects of climate change. Scientists say that even a small increase in the average global temperature could have adverse effects on weather, climate and all lifeforms on the planet. Arguments against the protocol are either “it demands too much, it achieves too little, or it is unnecessary”.
10 One hundred and seventy-eight countries have already signed the protocol and since Australia has signed it before 2007 ended, the United States remains to be the only nations that refuses to sign the protocol on the ground that US President George W. Bush presented that it would be harmful to the US economy. Bush said that it would lead to losses that would amount to $400 billion and the lost of 4.9 million jobs. Bush also objected the fact that developing nations such as China and India are exempted even if the huge population of the two aforementioned countries account for a large amount of carbon dioxide emissions. Bush’s decision raised clamor from US supporters, US citizens and environmentalist groups. Due to the fact that the US accounts for a huge amount of the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, some experts in the field suggested that the protocol would not succeed without the US.
11 California is on state in the US that have legislated laws to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases. California is one of the firsts to ever legislate laws that would help prevent global warming. Laws that were enacted are the California Global Warming Solutions Act, the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Performance Standard Act and the Clean Cars Law.
12 Global warming has many negative effects but it may also have the simplest of solutions. Even at home, people can find ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Simply cutting down on energy consumption will help reduce greenhouse gases. Also, avoiding the use of aerosols would also help a lot in curbing emissions.
There are actually many other ways in which emission of greenhouse gases can be reduced. Instead of power plants that use coal, many countries can find other sources of electricity such as hydroelectric power plants which is very cheap when dams are made available. Solar energy and wind energy are other cost efficient sources of energy which also produces no pollution.
Another way is by reducing emissions from vehicles. New technology have provided vehicles that run with the use of electricity, vehicles that use water for fuel and solar powered vehicles. Countries only need to produce such vehicles and promote it in order to significantly reduce emissions. Eliminating reliance on oil would most likely improve the economy and would reduce dependence on oil producing countries.
Another simple aspect is controlling population growth to reduce carbon dioxide emissions coming from people. This would not only prove beneficial to the problem with climate change, this could also solve other environmental or economical problems that a country may have. To add, reforestation would the campaign against global warning as trees make use of carbon dioxide. More trees would also provide habitat for animals and other life forms that are dependent on the resources provided by nature.
Global warming is threatening the whole and humanity and it can be prevented even with just simple measures to reduce greenhouse gases. Through this, slowly but surely, the planet will be able to recover from the bad effects provided by climate change. Solving global warming would also provide doors for solving others problems that the world is facing. Once the earth is restored to its normal state, the quality of living of all people would most likely improve. If only this problem has been addressed sooner, the situation might not be so grave, but this is no time to regret, mankind must act now to even have a chance at reversing the effects of global warming.
Global Warming Effects. 2007. Retrieved April 1, 2008, from http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/
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West Larry, What is the Greenhouse Effect, Retrieved April 1, 2008, from http://environment.about.
Kanter James, 25 October 2007, UN issues ‘final wake-up call’ on population and environment, International Herald Tribune, Retrieved April 1, 2008, from http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/
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1 Global Warming Effects. 2007. Retrieved April 1, 2008, from http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/sciencetech/5-deadliest-effects-of-global-warming/276
2 Donnely John, A tussle over link of warming, disease, The Boston Globe, 5 December 2007, Retrieved April 1, 2008, from http://www.boston.com/news/science/articles/2007/12/05/a_tussle_
3 Health Impacts of Global Warming, Retrieved April 1, 2008 from, http://www.healthgoods.com/
4 Butler Rhett, 21 March 2007, Global Warming May Cause Biodiversity Extinction, Mongabay.com,
Retrieved April 1, 2008, from http://news.mongabay.com/2007/0322-extinction.html
5 Five Deadliest Effects of Global Warming, 11 September 2007, Retrieved April 1, 2008, from http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/sciencetech/5-deadliest-effects-of-global-warming/276
6 West Larry, What is the Greenhouse Effect, Retrieved April 1, 2008, from http://environment.about.
8 Kanter James, 25 October 2007, UN issues ‘final wake-up call’ on population and environment, International Herald Tribune, Retrieved April 1, 2008, from http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/10/25/europe/environ.php?page=1
9 PR, Media Attention and Consumers Driving Climate Change in the Corporation, 11 February 2008, Retrieved April 1, 2008, from http://www.triplepundit.com/pages/pr-media-attention-consumers-d-002904.php
1 West, Should the United States Ratify the Kyoto Protocol?, Retreived April 1, 2008, from http://environment.about.com/od/kyotoprotocol/i/kyotoprotocol_2.htm
1 1 Ibid
1 2 California Policy, Retrieved April 1, 2008, fromhttp://www.solutionsforglobalwarming.