Global Warming

Topics: Global warming, Kyoto Protocol, Climate change Pages: 13 (4316 words) Published: February 12, 2009
I Introduction
My awareness of the phenomenon called either "global warming" or "climate change" started immediately before the Kyoto Summit in December 1997. I read articles in the media which said that many scientists believe that the threat of global arming was alarming and that our political leaders would have to do something in order to prevent the climate from getting hotter and hotter. Since this conference climate change has fascinated me. This research paper is divided into two main parts: the first one (chapters II and III) deals with the science of global warming. I decided to start with this scientific part because it is no good reading about policies, agreements, subsidies, etc. without knowing at least the basic principles of the science. As I wrote this paper not for a climatology course but for an Area Studies course and thus the main focus is not on science but on policies, I tried to explain the science in a way everybody should be able to understand. In the second part (chapters IV and V) I summed up what the Clinton Administration has so far done to mitigate the effects of global warming. In each chapter I tried to give the official statements first, mainly EPA and White House documents, and then to contrast these statements with the views of non-government experts and organisations. The sources cited in this research paper are mainly taken from the internet. I decided to use these sources instead of books because global warming is a relatively recent topic. It would not have been possible, for instance, to find information about the COP-5 meeting in Bonn in books, as this meeting took place only three months before I began writing the chapter. During my preparation for this paper, I had a look at dozens of web sites concerning global warming. I am well aware that there are two groups of "experts": one says that the human influence on global warming is hardly discernible at all, the other one says exactly the opposite. As I am no scientist, I tried to compare those two views, as mentioned above. I do not know, and I doubt that anyone exactly knows, how significant human influence on the climate really is. However, as the main focus of this paper is on policies and not on science, I hope that this research paper does not contain any ambiguities concerning polices.

II Basic Workings of the Greenhouse Effect
The cause of the warming of the earth's average temperature is called "greenhouse effect." The basic workings of this phenomenon are not hard to understand. Normally, a percentage of the sun's rays, which heat the earth's surface, is "reflected back into space."[1] Those rays which are not reradiated are "absorbed by the oceans and the soils and warm[...] the surrounding areas to create the climate conditions we live in."[2] "Without this [natural] greenhouse heating, the Earth's average temperature would be only about -73 [degrees] C"[3] , a temperature which would not allow mankind to exist. Since the Industrial Revolution however, the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) has increased dramatically.[4] These molecules form a barrier which prevents the reradiated rays of the sun from travelling farther into space. As a result, the sun's rays are reradiated again to the earth's surface. In other words: the heat is trapped. "The more heat that is trapped, the more intense the greenhouse effect."[5] The greenhouse effect is aggravated by processes known as feedback mechanisms: the polar ice shelf has a bright surface, which reflects the sun's rays effectively. Due to the rise of the average global temperature, the polar ice shelf begins melting and is eventually replaced by dark soil or blue ocean. This new dark surface is capable of absorbing more heat than the bright surface of ice and snow. As a result, the ice surrounding the warm soil can melt much faster, creating more dark soil. Finally, the melted ice causes a sea-level rise. [6]

III Impacts
Although "[s]cientists generally agree on...
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