05/19/03

 

 

 

Global Warming and our Weather

             There are many environmental problems that we, as inhabitants of this planet, have to be concerned about. The most important problem that will have to be dealt with is the potentially dangerous Global Warming. Global Warming is a phenomenon that is responsible for the gradual increase in the average temperature of the planet earth and unless we change our ways of energy consumption and creation, Global warming will cause many problems in the future.

Most people confuse Global Warming with the greenhouse effect, but global warming is an intensification of the natural trapping of heat on the planet. This natural heat trapping is referred to as the greenhouse effect, which is an invisible blanket that keeps the earth at a livable temperature. Furthermore, the earth would be a frigid, uninhabitable planet without the greenhouse effect. For comparison, the glass in a greenhouse is similar to our atmosphere in that it allows solar radiation in and does not allow too much out. As the sun’s energy gets to the earth’s surface, some of it bounces out into space and some is absorbed by greenhouse gases such as water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide and reflected back to earth to keep the planet warm. Knowing the difference between global warming and the greenhouse effect, and how it works, will raise awareness of this potentially dangerous situation.

There are many causes of global warming, such as clearing of forests and burning of fossil fuels. For example, with the increase of fossil fuel burning, which contains greenhouse gases, there is a risk of the intensification of the greenhouse affect or global warming. “As early as 1896 scientists suggested that burning fossil fuels might change the composition of the atmosphere and that an increase in global average temperature might result. The first part of this hypothesis was confirmed in 1957 when their instruments indicated that carbon dioxide concentration was indeed rising” (Global Warming, Encarta). Providing more evidence, “Ice core samples from Greenland and Antarctica provide information about the earth’s climate for the last 160,000 years. The ice core samples show that the average global temperature has closely reflected the carbon dioxide concentration, supporting the theory of Global Warming (Global Warming, Chris’ Homepage). Levels of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gasses have been increasing over the decades and things have been done to try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as the Kyoto Protocol. In the late nineties, delegates from many countries met in Kyoto, Japan to talk about ways to reduce worldwide emissions, but with the election of a new president and administration, this situation was put at the low end of the United States’ priorities. Furthermore, the causes are mainly human related, so humans are the ones responsible for reversing the effects of global warming.

There are many consequences of global warming, such as weather patterns will be less predictable, in the mountains, snowlines will be higher, there will be a rise in sea level, and the earth will be more humid due to more water evaporating from the oceans. For example, because of a warmer and more humid climate, storms like hurricanes, thunderstorms, and tornadoes could become more intense and more frequent. To explain, global warming will have an impact, because warm, humid air is the fuel for these storms and with more fuel, you have more storms. Another example of probable consequences is that there will be a rise in sea level. “The most obvious connection, the melting of glaciers is important, but not the most significant. Far more significant is that a warmer atmosphere causes an increase in ocean volume due to thermal expansion. Higher air temperatures warm the upper layers of the ocean, which in turn causes the water to expand and the sea level to rise” (Lutgens, Tarbuck 385). If people are aware of the possible consequences of global warming, perhaps the significance of the situation will be taken more seriously.

In the future global warming will become a problem if the inhabitants of this planet do not do something to slow it down. The Kyoto Protocol was a good start, but we need to do more. Other forms of energy like wind and solar energy need to be used more often so that we can stop the harmful burning of fossil fuels, which contribute to the global warming problem.

 

Works Cited

“Global Warming.” Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2002. 24 November 2002.

     http://encarta.msn.com.

“Global Warming.” Chris’ Homepage. 24 November 2002.    

     http://www.geocities.com/RainForest/Vines/8620/warm1.html.

Lutgens, Frederick K., and Edward J. Tarbuck. The Atmosphere, An introduction to Meteorology.

     New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc., 2001.


 


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