Global warming is defined as a measurable increase in temperature of Earth's atmosphere, oceans, and landmasses. Greenhouse gases have been pinpointed as the main cause of this increase in temperature. The burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas have caused a thirty-five percent increase in carbon dioxide (a highly potent greenhouse gas) since the 1750's (MSN Encarta, 2008).
Since the Industrial revolution in the mid 1700's there has been a significant increase in the production of greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases such as water vapor and methane occur naturally in the environment. Other greenhouse gases, like hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride are created as a result of the industrial process which is used by humans (West, 2009). Greenhouse gases are the main contributing factor to global warming and climate change. These gases allow the Sun's radiation to heat the earth, much like the glass panes in a greenhouse. These gases also prevent the escape of infrared energy that is radiated from the Earth, which ideally would escape into space (MSN Encarta, 2008).
Apart from greenhouse gases, deforestation has also been recognized as a major contributing factor in global warming. Deforestation is a negative impact on the environment caused specifically by humans. Large numbers of plants and trees are cut down every year to make way for farming and building. Plants and trees naturally absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the atmosphere. As mentioned before, carbon dioxide is one of the most potent greenhouse gases. Daniel Howden, a journalist for The Independent, stated that, "Scientists say one days' deforestation is equivalent to the carbon footprint of eight million people flying to New York," he also states that "If we lose forests, we lose the fight against climate change." Deforestation is specified as the second main contributor to global warming. Clearly, humans play a vital role in the causes of global warming.
Scientists have already noticed a 40 percent reduction in thickness of Arctic Ice due to global warming and climate change (Bird, 2008). If ice continues to melt within these regions the sea level will rise and wipe out various islands and coastal cities. Many lives will be affected by global warming if something is not done to reverse or prevent its progression.
Global warming awareness is slowly gaining momentum. Many people have begun making changes within their own home in order to reduce their contribution to global warming and climate change. The growing movement towards 'green' products and services is rapidly becoming a key element of the building industry. With global awareness improving through political support, media coverage, and overall education, the rising popularity of environmentally safe products and materials have gained popularity. Reusable grocery bags, environmentally friendly cleaning products, and recycled paper goods are just a few products that are being sold in stores around the world.
With global warming being the topic of most environmental discussions, reducing greenhouse gases and improving energy efficiency have helped drive the use of renewable energy as a practical option to reduce the negative impact that humans have on the environment. Solar, wind, and hydropower are a few 'clean'...