Global Warming

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Arkansas State University- Beebe, Arkansas

Global Warming

Physical Science- Stults
27 November 2006


The issue
The worldwide community has reached an agreement about the global climate; the world is undoubtedly warming.  This warming is the result of emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from human activities, such as industrial processes, changes in land use, and deforestation. If we continue, the temperature is expected to rise by 400% by 2100, and warming in the U.S. is expected to be even higher.  This warming will have real consequences on the world, for with warming, also comes additional sea-level rises (which will gradually flood coastal areas), changes in rain patterns, increased risk of droughts and floods, and a number of potential challenges for public health.  Addressing climate change is not an easy task. To protect ourselves, our economy, and our land from the effects of climate change, we must reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.  To achieve this goal we must fundamentally transform the way we power our global economy, shifting away from a century's legacy of unrestrained fossil fuel use and its associated emissions in pursuit of more efficient and renewable sources of energy.  Such a transformation will require society to engage in a concerted effort, over the near and long-term, to seek out opportunities and design actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.   Greenhouse gases are developed by burning fossil fuels. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon have increased nearly 30%; methane concentrations have more than doubled; and nitrous oxide concentrations have risen by about 15% all since the beginning of the industrial revolution. The atmosphere's heat trapping capability has been enhanced due to these increases. The result of this is an increase in global temperature called global warming. In the past century, the Earth's surface temperature has risen by about 1 degree Fahrenheit. During the past two decades there has been an increasing speed of Earths warming.     

What's being done?
Climate change is a global challenge and requires a global solution. Greenhouse gas emissions have the same impact on the atmosphere whether they originate in Washington, London or Beijing. Consequently, action by one country to reduce emissions will do little to slow global warming unless other countries act as well. Ultimately, an effective strategy will require commitments and action by all the major countries. The international response to climate change was launched in 1992, at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, with the signing of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Convention established a long-term objective of stabilizing greenhouse concentrations in the atmosphere "at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system." It also set a voluntary goal of reducing emissions from developed counties to 1990 levels by 2000 – a goal that most did not meet. Recognizing that stronger action was needed, countries negotiated the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which sets binding targets to reduce emissions 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The Kyoto Protocol will officially enter into force on February 16, 2005. With entry into force, Kyoto's emission targets become binding legal commitments for those industrialized countries that have ratified it (the United States and Australia have not). Also, the market-based mechanisms established under Kyoto, including international emissions trading and the Clean Development Mechanism will become fully operational. Attention must now turn to strengthening the international framework for the years following Kyoto's initial commitment period (2008-2012). The overriding challenge is to forge an agreement that includes all the major...
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