What is Global Warming?
According to NASA, Global Warming is the unusually rapid increase in temperature of the earth's atmosphere and its oceans. Scientists have been documenting climate change and earth’s average temperature since the late 1800s and have noticed a gradual rise that has become more prominent in the last 50 years. The gradual rise has been researched thoroughly and LiveScience states that “97 percent of climate scientists agree that the rate of global warming trends the planet is now experiencing is not a natural occurrence, but is primarily the result of human activity.” Global Warming has become much more noticeable as our climate continues to reach high levels.
How warm is the world getting?
Over the past 50 years, the average global temperature has increased at the fastest rate in recorded history. 2016 was the hottest year on record for the third year in a row. CNN reports that 2016s average temperature was 1.1 degree Celsius, 1.98 degrees Fahrenheit, above the pre-industrial average. Research done by scientists for the United Nations climate change conference also shows that the arctic has warmed by 3 degrees in the past 50 years and because of that from 2000 to 2009, 1500 billion tons of ice had melted. The earth has warmed naturally in the past but this increase in temperature we have been experiencing especially in the last couple decades is not of natural causes.
What are the causes of Global Warming?
Prof Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University states,
“The spate of record-warm years that we have seen in the 21st century can only be explained by human-caused climate change. The effect of human activity on our climate is no longer subtle. It’s plain as day.”
The biggest human cause of Global Warming is the growing number of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, particularly carbon dioxide that is caused by burning fossil fuels and deforestation. According to LiveScience, when solar radiation goes through the atmosphere it is absorbed by greenhouse gases and then radiated upward as heat but when there is an abnormal amount of gases in the atmosphere like there is today, it causes more heat to be radiated back to earth's surface causing an increase in global temperature. This increase in the earth's temperature severely changes the environment.
What are the effects of Global Warming?
You can see the effects of Global Warming in every country and every ocean and it affects all living creatures. On land the biggest impacts are on weather patterns and danger to humans and animals. The NOAA has reported that weather disasters like droughts, wildfires, floods, and storms caused by climate change killed 138 people and cost the United States $46 billion in 2016. Global warming is not just a danger to humans but it also changes what lifeforms can survive where. In an article by MindFood they report that “warm oceans saw coral mortality of up to 50% in parts of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and bleaching of 75% of Japan’s biggest reef.” This was caused by the increased ocean temperature. As said above, billions of tons have melted and polar bears and other arctic animals and becoming endangered. The melted ice is not only bad for animals but it also causes ocean levels to rise. An infographic about global warming by Guillermo Munro for the Copenhagen climate change conference stated that sea level rose 5m since 2000 and now 600 million people are living in low lying coastal zones. If nothing is done to slow or stop Global Warming it will cause even more damage to the earth and the species living on it.
What can be done to stop Global Warming?
There are many things that can be done to slow and stop global warming. Professor Corinne Le Quéré at the University of East Anglia concluded that “CO2 will continue to rise and cause the planet to warm until emissions are cut down to near zero”. The biggest way to stop the rising temperatures would be to reduce fossil fuel use. This could be done by using less energy or using alternative, such as solar and wind power. It is not only the government that can solve global warming, SFGATE has come up with many ways to contribute to the fight on global warming right from your home. Because carbon dioxide is the most prominent greenhouse gas, planting trees and other plants will help slow global warming. They also state that because recycled items take less energy to manufacture than items produced from scratch, recycling metal, plastic, glass and paper will lower greenhouse gas emissions. Lastly, SFGATE says that cities consume significant amounts of energy when purifying and distributing water so things you can do to save water could be turning off water immediately whenever you're not using it, repairing or replace leaky faucets and toilets, using less water in your yard, and capturing rainwater in barrels for irrigating.