The term global warming does not have a universal definition. It is a term used by many governments, organisations and companies to describe the rise in the average temperature on Earth’s surface. Deborah White says ‘Global warming refers to the increased temperature of Earth’s surface, including land, water and near-surface air’. The atmosphere is made up of various gases, some of these gases are called greenhouse gases. These natural gasses do not cause concern, however, scientists believe that extra greenhouse gasses, that are man-made by burning fossil fuel, is heating up the Earth causing global warming. Scientists believe this is causing glaciers to melt, leading sea levels to rise. Wildlife is struggling to keep up with the rapid climate change and weather conditions are becoming more severe. This is why global warming is also referred to as ‘climate change’. There is predicted to be less rainfall leading to water shortages and crop failures, certain species of animals and plants becoming extinct and the spread of disease due to insects migrating to warming countries to name just a few effects of global warming.
Greenhouse gases trap the suns heat and light in Earth’s atmosphere which raises the temperature on Earth, this is called ‘the greenhouse effect’. Greenhouse gasses include Carbon Dioxide, water vapour, Nitrous Oxide and Methane which absorb and release thermal infrared radiation leading to the increase in Earth’s temperatures. Greenhouse gasses are needed to support life as we know it. Without these natural gasses heat would escape into Space, they are what keep heat near Earth’s surface. According to The National Geographic [online] ‘This greenhouse effect is what keeps the Earth's climate livable. Without it, the Earth's surface would be an average of about 60 degrees Fahrenheit cooler’. The principal cause of global warming is thought to be the burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal which releases CO2 into the atmosphere. Another major cause is thought to be deforestation. When deforestation takes place the carbon held by the trees and soil is released into the atmosphere adding to the greenhouse gases. Deforestation is described as the second leading contributor for carbon emissions globally (Climate Change: Our Priority). Pollution occurs when vehicles burn fossil fuels such as petrol and diesel to produce their power, when burnt these fuels will also be released into the Earth’s atmosphere.
Scientists have reason to believe that heat waves are becoming more frequent, cold snaps are shorter, glaciers are melting, and climate changes could see animal and plant species becoming extinct. With less rainfall crops could fail. If sea levels keep rising land will be covered leading to whole populations needing to be moved to other land. The NOAA produced a graph which shows the atmospheric samples contained in ice cones and more recent direct measurements that provides evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution in the 1800’s .The IPCC have also detected decreases in snow and ice cover that are consistent with the warming of the atmosphere, they also state that using satellite data Artic sea ice has minimised every decade since 1978.
In 1997 the Kyoto Protocol emerged from the UN framework convention on climate change. This agreement was the first legally binding framework on the environment. Its main purpose was for every country that had signed up to reduce their emissions of man-made greenhouse gases. These countries were given a limit of the amount of greenhouse gases they could produce. The question surrounding this agreement was will it work? (Brown, 2005) said ‘The fact is that, even if all the planned reductions are achieved, the amount that CO2 emissions will be reduced will be tiny compared with that needed’ According to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency ‘…the United States and China- churned out more than...