Global warming

With global warming as the topic of discussion, we’ll look at the description of the term global warming, the causes and characteristics of global warming, the effects, the advantages and disadvantages, the adaptations and mitigation and global warming in relation to the Bible. The term ‘global warming’ refers to the increase in the average atmospheric temperature of the Earth. This process as it is known today, refers to the earth’s heating process that has consistently occurred since mid-20th century and its highly likely continuation due to the use of the word ‘warming’ in its present-continuous form.

The earth’s atmospheric temperature has increased 0. 74 ± 0. 18 °C (1. 33 ± 0. 32 °F) during the 100 years before 2005 (Michaels, J. P. 2007). The global body that was setup to investigate and formulate recommendations on global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), concludes that most of the temperature increase since the mid-twentieth century is as a result of the increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Natural occurrences such as solar variation and volcanoes probably had an almost negligible warming effect from pre-industrial times to 1950 and a subsequent cooling effect from 1950 onward.

Majority of scientists working on climate change agree with the IPCC’s findings and conclusions over the subject (Weart, R. S. 2003). Current scientific examinations and observations show that global atmospheric temperature will likely rise by a significant 1. 1 to 6. 4 °C (2. 0 to 11. 5 °F) during the most period in the twenty- first century (Lafreniere, F. G. 2008). There are two conspicuous uncertainties in these projections; one is the uncertainty in the estimate which is as a result of using random figures (estimates) of future greenhouse gas emissions and using experiments with differing climate sensitivity.

The second uncertainty is how warming and related changes will vary from region to region around the globe. Warming is expected to continue for the next hundreds of years even if man controls his production of green house gases, his results from the large heat absorption capability of the oceans. Increasing global temperature will cause sea levels to rise and will change the amount and pattern of precipitation in form of rain, snow and fog, likely including an expanse of the subtropical desert boundaries among other notable effects as will be assessed here-in (Johansen, B. E. 2006).

Most national governments have signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol which aims at reducing greenhouse gas emissions to a controllable extent. The Kyoto Protocol has brought with it unending debates of whether a single body should attempt to control green house emissions by dictating the terms of industrial functions of the signatory countries. As the debate rages on, the earth is continuously, rapidly disintegrating (Gore, A. 2007). CAUSES OF GLOBAL WARMING The causes of global warming present another raging debate of the beginning of global warming. The scientist William Ruddiman has argued that human influence on the subject began

about 8,000 years ago with the on-set of forest clearing to provide Agricultural land and was enhanced 3,000 years later with the start of Asian rice irrigation. Ruddiman’s findings and conclusions have been a point of argument and diversion in the scientific world. Below are some of the causes of global warming that have received and caused less divergence than convergence with the various parties involved (Gore, A. 2007). Greenhouse Gas Emissions Commonly known as the green house effect, it is defined as the process by which absorption and emission of infrared radiation by atmospheric gases warm a planet’s atmosphere.

(Langholz . A. J and Turner. K. 2003). The scientific consensus is that the increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases due to human activity caused most of the warming observed since the start of the industrial era, and the warming cannot be satisfactorily explained by natural causes alone. This attribution is clearest for the most recent 50 years, being the period most of the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations took place and for which the most complete measurements exist. (Houghton, J. T. 2004). The greenhouse effect was discovered by Joseph Fourier in 1824 and first investigated quantitatively by Svante Arrhenius in 1896.

Existence of the greenhouse effect as such is not disputed. The question is instead how the strength of the greenhouse effect changes when human activity increases the atmospheric concentrations of particular greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2). Naturally occurring greenhouse gases have a mean warming effect of about 33 °C (59 °F), without which Earth would be uninhabitable. On Earth the major greenhouse gases are water vapor, which causes about 36–70 percent of the greenhouse effect; carbon dioxide (CO2), which causes 9– 26 percent; methane (CH4), which causes 4–9 percent; and ozone, which causes 3–7 percent.

Human activity since the industrial revolution has increased the atmospheric concentration of various greenhouse gases, leading to increased radiative forcing from CO2, methane, ozone, CFCs and nitrous oxide. The atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and methane have increased by 36% and 148% respectively since the beginning of the industrial revolution in the mid-1700s.

These levels are considerably higher than at any time during the last 650,000 years, the period for which reliable data has been extracted from ice cores. From less direct geological evidence it is believed that CO2 values this high were last seen approximately 20 million years ago. Fossil fuel burning has produced approximately three-quarters of the increase in CO2 from human activity over the past 20 years. Most of the rest is due to land-use change, in particular deforestation. CO2 concentrations are expected to continue to rise due to ongoing burning of fossil fuels and land-use change.

The rate of rise will depend on uncertain economic,sociological, technological, and natural developments. Fossil fuel reserves are sufficient to reach this level and continue emissions past 2100 if coal, tar sands or methane clathrates are extensively exploited.


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