Every day we go about our own business. Many of us never take the time to look around and see how we are effecting our earth’s atmosphere. Everywhere you look today you are bound to see some factory or machinery polluting our air. Just think how many times you have seen those large semi trucks or big fossil fuel factories emitting thick dark smoke into the atmosphere. We need to come to reality and realize that all that polluting we have been doing over the last half-century is finally catching up to us. It is very easy to detect through scientific research that our earth’s climate is changing, Time magazine reports in its 2004 issue that the earth’s average temperature is increasing at a steady rate. Yes we all have heard the term “global warming”, however many people don’t know in depth what global warming is, or how our actions will affect our earth if we don’t respond to the issue. If we can educate ourselves on what global warming is and how it will effect us in the near and far future, we can then begin to change our old habits of polluting and create new habits and goals to living in a much healthier and cleaner environment.
Global Warming is an issue that concerns almost everybody worldwide: it is the primary cause for the erratic and sometimes devastating weather that is experienced around the world. Global warming is causing the rise in sea level which in turn causes the flooding of coastal areas and areas with low elevation. Is global warming really happening today? Scientists with the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) believe it is so.
It is indisputable that there has been a rise in the concentration of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere during the last century, which scientists think may be one of the causes of global warming. The climate change however is not a direct result of the rise in greenhouse gases (Bellamy & Gifford, 2000).
This study intent to: (1) know the effect of global warming worldwide thus knowing the global warming and doomsday and; (2) widen our knowledge about the ozone slayer and do the humans are the reasons of causing global warming or if its just a natural process that the earth goes through.
A. Global Warming and doomsday
Will global warming spell doom for our world? Scientists believe this to be so. “Much depends on what actions we take now and in the coming years.” Meteorologist Jagadish Shukla of the University of Maryland found out that deforestation would cause rainfall in the Amazon River to decline by more than 26 percent from the current 2.5 m. to about 1.8 m. a year.
At the same time, the burning of fossil fuels, particularly coal and oil, produces sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides which are hazardous to the atmosphere. Findings show that a single smokestack may produce as much as 500 tons of sulfur dioxide a day. When these gases combine with oxygen and moisture, sulfuric acid and nitric acid is formed. The rain will carry the acids to the ground (acid rain) which may cause the depletion of calcium and magnesium in the soil, elements needed by plants for the formation of chlorophyll and wood, or it may cause the release of aluminum in the soil, which are poisonous and can kill the roots of trees (Carwardine, 2000).
Nitrous oxide or “laughing gas’ is a colorless gas with a sweet taste and odor that is used as an anaesthetic in minor surgery that H2O is responsible for about 6 percent of the human contributes to greenhouse warming. Methane or “cow gas,” on the other hand, makes up about 18 percent of human contributions to greenhouse effect. Cattle, sheep, goats, and other cud-chewing animals give off methane, in burps and flatulence as they digest. CFCs was discovered by Thomas Widgley Jr., a chemist working at the Frigidaire Division of General Motors, used as coolants in refrigerators and air conditioners and aerosol propellants in spray cans, medical sterilizers, cleaning solvents for electronic components and raw materials for making plastic foams such as coffee cups. CFCs are estimated to account for 14 percent of global warming. Experts said that what is happening right now is not a matter of adding a few degrees to the average temperature of a community. A rise of this magnitude may cause life, for without the environment, creatures on earth cannot survive (Davidson, 1999).
A. Ozone Slayers
Ozone is an unstable oxygen that occurs naturally in the atmosphere (also called isothermal region), the upper portion of the atmosphere above 7 miles where clouds are rare. The ozone layer absorbs the dangerous ultraviolet-B (UV-B) rays while it allows the needed safe light to pass through. Though easily broken down by other gases in the stratosphere, it is constantly being repaired by the sun’s rays. However, man is destroying the ozone layer which serves as a protective umbrella against the sun’s harmful rays. In fact, the ozone layer is destroyed faster than the sun’s rays can produce it. It is being destroyed by industrial gases like CFCs (Johnston, 2000).
CFCs were invented in 1930 but were discovered hazardous in 1974-only after 44 years of use. CFCs, which are found everywhere, are used in foamed plastic production (insulators, cups, fast-food containers), spray propellants, coolants (refrigerators, air-conditioners) and solvent cleaner (electronic equipment).It is dismaying to know that ozone depletion can be found in the south (Antarctica) and north (Greenland) poles. According to British scientist Joe Farman, 40 percent of ozone depletion can be found in the South Pole. At the South Pole is a huge vortex with clouds composed of tiny ice articles, giving chlorine millions of tiny spaces through which it can perform its deadly dance with ozone even faster (Simpson, 2000).
Both holes at the poles are seasonal, opening and closing each year. In the northern hemisphere, a more populous region, ozone depletion rate is between three percent and seven percent for 17 years, as compared previously to only three percent for100 years.
What are the effects of Ultraviolet-B rays to human beings and the ecosystem in general? To humans, they can cause skin cancer and cataract as mentioned earlier and damage the immune system. To the ecosystem, they can kill planktons (basic element of the ocean food chain), destroy plant life and crops and change global wind and weather patterns.
In 1978, Canada, Sweden, the United States and other countries banned the use of CFCs in aerosols. However, other uses of CFCs were found, effecting an increase in its production. The US still uses one-fourth of the world’s annual supply of CFCs (Turner, 2000).
However, in September 1987, 24 nations cooperated for the first time to solve this environmental problem and passed the Montreal Protocol. The agreement issued a call for developed nations to freeze the use and production of CFCs at the 1986 level while cutting 50 percent of use and production by 1999.
Still, the CFCs currently rising through the troposphere will take seven to 10 years to drift up to the stratosphere. The troposphere is the portion of the atmosphere that is below the stratosphere, extending outward about seven to 10 miles from the earth’s surface (Bellamy & Gifford, 2000).
If we are to keep the ozone layer, the use of CFCs must be lowered-if not totally eliminated. Consumers must not patronize products that have CFCs, educators and scientists must challenge students to find alternatives, entrepreneurs and industrialists must avoid the use of CFC- solvent cleaners and policymakers must [ass legislative measures regarding CFCs (Jordan, 2005).
B. Global Warming poses threat to Chinese coast
By 2050, rising sea levels could threaten 92,000 square kilometers of land-an area the size of Portugal-and displace 76 million people-more than the population of the Philippines. The impact would be concentrated in China’s coastal areas-the powerhouse of the country’s rapid economic growth (Carliner, 2000).
While China is set to be a major victim of climate changes resulting from the greenhouse effect, it is also one of the world’s biggest contributors to the problems. China’s 76 percent dependency on coal as an energy source means it now accounts for 10 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions, while the new report estimated that the Asian giant’s demand for the fuel would triple to 3.1 billion tons by 2020 (Jordan, 2005).
Of all issues affecting humanity, climate change is the most pervasive and truly global, posing a very real and serious threat to our environment. Climate change is the alteration of the pattern of global climate that may be due to human activity that alters the composition of the atmosphere.
If present day emissions of greenhouse gases continue, it is estimated that the rate of increase in global mean temperatures will reach about 0.3o C per decade. This will mean a likely increase of 1o C above the present level by the year 2025, and 3o C before the end of the next century.
Bellamy, David, and Gifford, Jane. Wilderness Britain? A Greenprint for the Future. Sparkford: Oxford Illustrated 2000. Popular work by leading biologist and environmental campaigner.
Carliner, Geoffrey. The China Card: Global Warming? Challenge. Volume: 38. Issue: 5. Page 57+, 2000.
Carwardine, Mark. The WWF Environment Handbook. London: Macdonald Optima, 2000. Attractively illustrated handbook for the general reader.
Davidson, Joan. How Green is your City? Pioneering Approaches to Environmental Action. London: Bedford Square Press, 1999. Guide to community action for urban renewal.
Johnston, R. J. Environmental Problems: Nature, Economy and State. London: Belhaven, 2000.
Jordan, Stuart. The Global Warming Crisis. The Humanist. Volume: 65. Issue: 6. Pp. 43+, 2005.
Simpson, Struan. The Times Guide to the Environment: a Comprehensive Handbook to Green Issues. London: Times, 2000. Authoritative and comprehensive; with bibliography.
Turner, R. Kerry, ed. Sustainable Environmental Management: Principles and Practice. London: Belhaven in association with Economic and Social Research Council, 1999. Sound guidance for business, with bibliographies.