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Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming

By tasa0120 Jun 16, 2011 1988 Words
Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming

Today, at the down of 21st century, together with the 20th century, especially the second half, is the time when Earth’s environment change at the very rapid rate. Humans have lived on this planet for thousands of years. I think now is the time to think how do we impact the place where we live, and the only place where we can live. The impact of human race on the natural processes of our planet has now reached the levels that are now global, not local anymore. This impact is accelerating day by day. Today, we have plenty of scientific evidence to prove that our planet together with human race is in great danger. The turning point was discovery of ozone hole in the 80’s, so all the events that maybe have past unnoticed previously are now not just under the close eye of scientists but the public too. The reason is that scientists have proved their pessimistic predictions of the future and that politicians and world media are putting a great pressure on the topic that the Earth is threatened by people and that we can not just stand still but we have to do something about it. One of the biggest threats of our time is the Global Warming. The most important fact for the beginning of discussion of this problem is to separate the Global Warming from the Greenhouse Effect. They are often being mixed and Greenhouse Effect is usually being related to negative connotations. Term “Greenhouse Effect” was first used by atmospheric scientists in the early 1800s. “It was used to describe the naturally occurring functions of trace gases in the atmosphere and did not have any negative connotations.” Than in the mid-1950s this term was related with concern over climate change. [pic]

This effect occurs because “greenhouse gases allow incoming solar radiation to pass through the Earth's atmosphere, but prevent most of the outgoing infrared radiation from the surface and lower atmosphere from escaping into outer space. This process occurs naturally and has kept the Earth's temperature about 60 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it would otherwise be.”(www.epa.gov) The greenhouse effect is very important because current life on Earth would not be possible without the natural greenhouse effect. Planet Earth would not be warm enough for people to exist. On the other hand if the greenhouse effect becomes stronger than it should be, Earth will become warmer than usual. Concerning fact is that even a little extra warming can cause natural disasters for humans, plants, and animals- the complete Earth’s life. The main reason for the Greenhouse Effect are gases like water vapor ([pic] ), carbon dioxide ([pic]), methane([pic]), and nitrous oxide ([pic]). They all act as effective global insulators. In order to classify Earth regarding the planet warmth we can use the Goldilocks Principle which says that -"Venus is too hot, Mars is too cold, and Earth is just right. A Venus-type atmosphere would produce hellish, Venus-like conditions on our planet; a Mars atmosphere would leave us shivering in a Martian-type deep freeze.” Because average surface temperature of Earth is between boiling point and freezing point of water, our planet is capable of preserving the living world. Moderate temperatures made by Greenhouse Effect on Earth are also the result of having just the right kind of atmosphere. [pic]

Global Warming on the other hand is a just an increase in the Earth’s average temperature. The alarming fact is that Earth’s average atmosphere temperature has increased in the last decades. Nobody can tell for sure why, maybe it is a natural process, but a lot of scientists suspect that it is a consequence of the human act, in other words increased percentage of greenhouse gases produced in industrial chemical reactions that started since the Industrial Revolution. Earth is warming up and scientists say that rapid change in temperatures will lead to severe changes in weather and climate of the Earth. Scientists predict that temperature on our planet will keep increasing for the next 100 years. Average world temperature in 2100 would be 1 C degree warmer than in 1990 but considering sensitivity of the climate it can rise to even 3.5 C degree. The official UN International Panel of Climate Change also backs up this claim by publishing statistics which state that future warming estimates are to go up from 2.5 to 10.4 F by 2100 (Spencer). The global sea level has increased between 10 and 25 centimeters in the last decade. They could rise by 15-95 centimeters by 2100. This will be the greatest change in weather and climate conditions for the last 10,000 years. The consequences of the Global warming would lead to increase in the hot days. It would lead to the melting of polar ice caps, leading to the enormous flooding. On the other side it would lead to the spreading of desert, even across the continents like Europe. Animal and plant world would probably not survive such conditions.

I also have to mention that these consequences are dual. There is a possibility that albedo, the term used to define the percentage of solar energy reflected back by Earth, will get bigger with the increase in greenhouse gases which will also lead to increased clouds surface. What this means is that more Suns energy will be reflected back, and the temperatures will actually drop down leading to the new Ice Age. (Spencer) There are some steps we can do to prevent this. If we reduce the energy consumption, like lessen the need for burning coal and oil, switching to hybrid cars, it would lead to the reduced emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide. Using renewable and clean sources of energy like solar, wind and hydro electric power would certainly help to reduce the danger of global warming. The biggest step in taking some serious action about this problem is the Kyoto Treaty or Kyoto Protocol. “The Kyoto Protocol is an international agreement setting targets for industrialized countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. The protocol was agreed in 1997, based on principles set out in a framework convention signed in 1992. Industrialized countries have committed to cut their combined emissions to 5% below 1990 levels by 2008 - 2012. Each country that signed the protocol agreed to its own specific target. EU countries are expected to cut their present emissions by 8% and Japan by 5%. Some countries with low emissions were permitted to increase them.” USA did not sign the Kyoto Treaty. The Global Warming is very sensitive topic. It is a “bias topic.” There are lots of opinions and assumptions, but there are two opposite “currents” of scientist’s opinions. Briefly, one is saying that we are in danger if do not do something, and the other is saying that it is exaggeration of the actual facts. Dr. Roy W. Spencer, the recipient of NASA’s Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement and the American Meteorological Society’s Special Award for his satellite based temperature monitoring, is a rare example and has opposite opinion than the rest of scientific elite. (Spencer) He gave his opinion to the public in recent presentation while being a guest at Lindenwood University. Dr. Roy W. Spencer started his presentation “Global Warming: How Much of a Threat?” with the sentence “Yes, Global Warming is REAL, BUT!” Dr. Spencer was focusing on how much of the global warming was natural vs man-made. The points made at this presentation are base proof facts for already mentioned small group of scientists that are saying that the hysteria over the global warming is false and over exaggerated. Opinions are that Global Warming is not much of a threat because 90% of Global Warming is due to water vapor, not CO2. Statistics say that 75% of the potential warming from the natural greenhouse is never realized (Spencer). “Beliefs in serious global warming are matters of faith! For example people always think pessimistic rather than optimistic, like beliefs that Earth is rather fragile than resistant!” (Spencer). Even though we live today in the world of the modern technology the fact is that we still know very little about our atmosphere and climate. Poor climate prediction models are just some of the representations how little we know about the Mother Nature around us. “There were considerable differences in temperature increase predictions between the surface data and satellite data. Because of the big gap, adjustments were made to the satellites data like MSU instrument temperature change, observation time-of-day change, etc, and it was found that even after adjusting the data, differences in temperatures predictions are still way off” (Spencer). There is global hysteria about global warming, especially in the media. “We know so little, so we should not worry about it that much, and the cost of doing something about it is just too big to justify the cost” (Spencer). Planet Earth still stands after few billions years, and human race is still preserved after thousands of years even though Earth went through several periods of Ice Ages and Global Warmings. Current Global Warming is just natural process in functioning of the Planet Earth. The scientific proof that backs up this theory is orbital shifts. This theory of orbital shifts that causes the waxing and waning of ice ages, was first pointed out by James Croll in the 19th Century and later developed more fully by Milutin Milankovic in 1938 (Spencer). “Not signing a Kyoto Treaty was a right move by the United States Government and President George Bush. The results of Kyoto Treaty are immeasurable and it weakens the economies of the countries who have signed it. We know so little about this problem, people want to help solve this problem but they are unaware of the sacrifice. Cost is too big. We should not panic about the hazardous consequences of Global Warming, it is just mass hysteria pushed by media” (Spencer). My personal opinion is that I agree with the majority of scientists and think that we are endangering our planet. Although the other side has some good points and excellent credentials like Dr. Spencer I still think they are wrong. It is true that we do not know a lot about our atmosphere and climate but that is not the reason to just stand still and wait for a disaster to happen. It is the better idea to prevent it rather than trying to fix it after it happens. Theory about orbital shifts where Ice Ages and Global Warmings come and go through time is probably true but there is no proof that this current Global Warming is due to this orbital shifts. I do not think that USA not signing the Kyoto Treaty was a good idea justifying of the economic threat to the Americans. Most of the countries who have signed the treaty were much, much poorer than USA, and they have still taken the sacrifice. “Why USA should not do the same?” Saying that Kyoto is falling apart because the results were immeasurable is also false justification for not doing something. Don’t you think that the results would maybe be measurable if USA signed the treaty since USA makes enormous part of the worlds CO2 emissions?! At the end we can conclude that Global Warming is always a topic for discussion. We do not know a lot of things for sure. We do not know which side is right. But at the end are we just able to let it go and wait for whatever it can happen to us. Are we ready to send the future generations in almost certain disaster?

Work Cited:

www.epa.gov
Roy W. Spencer, “Global Warming: How Much of a Threat,” 2006 www.ucar.edu
www.bbc.net.uk

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