QUESTION 1: Technology owes Ecology an Apology. Indeed, in my opinion, technology does owe ecology an apology. This is because ecological imbalances were as a result of the Industrial revolution, which could be said to be the beginning of the non-ending technological advancement cycle. During Industrial revolution, we began altering or climate and environment through changing agricultural and industrial practices.
Before the industrial revolution, human activity released very few gases into the atmosphere, but now through population growth fossil fuel burning and deforestation, we are affecting the mixture of gases in the air, which in turn affects all other species in the world. The water bodies have been major victims to, and have experienced the whims of technology. They have been used as dumping grounds for all toxic waste waste that is as a result of technological advancement. This has brought about the extinction of some species and has killed many types of marine species. In addition to this, the once beautiful beaches of the world have been scarred with waste. The natural water rivers no longer hold rich ecosystems as before as many of them cannot be able to survive in the harsh conditions.
QUESTION 2: What do "anthropogenic greenhouse gases” mean? Discuss the anthropogenic greenhouse gases in terms of their potential to cause global warming.
Anthropogenic greenhouse gases are those gases that are emitted into the atmosphere and have an adverse effect on the climate. These are gases that are as a result of human activities. Greenhouse gases are the gases trapped inside our atmosphere, which tend to keep the planet earth warm. These gases are carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor (H20), nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4), and many chlorofluorocarbons (which will be explained in better detail later). These gases are what warm our planet to livable conditions, and are responsible for life, as we know it on earth. Then one might ask, "What is the problem with these essential details to life?” The answer is, is that when these gases are produced in excess they can warm the temperature of the earth directly with the increase of themselves. Therefore, since statistics show that the greenhouse gases have increased, the earth's temperature has increased also. This produces what is called the "greenhouse effect" and is very detrimental to earth's future. The "greenhouse effect" is a naturally occurring event, which happens because the greenhouse gases have capabilities to trap solar energy from the sun.
As mentioned above, the greenhouse gases have increased steadily since the birth of industrialization to our planet. Therefore these gases are trapping more energy from the sun than are being emitted back through our atmosphere towards outer space. This makes our planet warmer than it used to be, which is causing major potential problems to the planet. "Rising global temperatures are expected to raise sea level, and change precipitation and other local climate conditions. Changing regional climate could alter forests, crop yields, and water supplies”. It could also threaten human health, and harm birds, fish, and many types of ecosystems.
Deserts may expand into existing rangelands, and the character of some of our National Parks may be permanently altered." (EPA Web Page) For example, one of the major problems is the melting of the polar ice sheet in the North Pole. The excess water from the melt off can cause many problems. The melted water could possibly cause an interruption with the ocean currents, which have a major impact on regional climates all over the earth. For example, if the excess run off of water would change the ocean currents that run from the equator up the East Coast of the United States and then over to Europe, it could drastically put Europe in a cold spell. This would happen because Europe gets lots of its heat energy from the warm current because it is so far north latitude. Europe's vegetation would drastically die off from the sudden difference in its environment, and impact Europe in many ways. There is already evidence that this happened at one point in time. Also, this is only one of many reactions that could happen to earth. One of the major reasons why greenhouse gases have increased drastically over time is because of industrialization.
"Once, all climate changes occurred naturally. However, during the Industrial Revolution, we began altering our climate and environment through changing agricultural and industrial practices. Before the Industrial Revolution, human activity released very few gases into the atmosphere, but now through population growth, fossil fuel burning, and deforestation, we are affecting the mixture of gases in the atmosphere." (EPA web page) Some of the greenhouse gases occur naturally in earth's atmosphere, but some of them are increased in the atmosphere due to human activities.
Carbon dioxide is one of the gases, which occurs naturally in the atmosphere, but at the same time is increased drastically by human intervention. Nearly 80% of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere comes from fossil fuel combustion, 17% from deforestation, and 3% from concrete production. Other forms of carbon dioxide production come from solid waste and wood products being burned. Substances that absorb carbon dioxide, technically known as "sinks", are the oceans (water) and land based plants (terrestrial biomass). (Lecture 10/4/00, Sampson) Methane is another important greenhouse gas, which is very potent when it comes to heat absorption. Methane can absorb 27 times more heat than carbon dioxide. Also 28% of methane comes from fossil fuel combustion, while rice patty agriculture, domestic animal waste, sewage treatment, landfills, and biomass burning attribute to the increase. Methane's two major sinks are chemical reactions, and also soil absorption. (Elrod, 1999)
A third major greenhouse gas is nitrous oxide. Its main sources are biomass burning, and combustion of fossil fuel. Nitrous oxide is not as much of havoc to our atmosphere as carbon dioxide and methane, but still plays an important role in the warming of the earth. Other greenhouse gases that aren't nearly as present in our atmosphere but play a major role in the warming effect are chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
Industrial processes also generate these gases when byproducts of foam production, refrigeration, and air conditioning are released. What makes the chlorofluorocarbons important is their strength and longetivity. These gases can be thousands times stronger than carbon dioxide, and stay within the atmosphere before being chemically broken down for over a hundred years. There are no sinks for these greenhouse gases, so chemical reactions are the only way for them to disappear. The steps below show how they are broken down, and the destruction of ozone (03) along with it. This also is a negative effect of CFCs when they destruct our ozone layer. Step 1 "Photolysis" (splitting by sunlight) of CFCs in the stratosphere C12CF2 + UV light --* CICF2 + CI Step 2 Catalytic destruction of ozone Cl + 03 --* CIO + O2 CIO + 03 --* Cl + 202
- Website: http://www.biospherics.org
- Website: http://www.agu.org/sci_soc/policy/climate_change.html
- Website: http://www.epa.gov/ghginfo/questions.htm
- Website: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~ssandhu/clarkghg.html International Journal of Life support & Biosphere Sciences (1997) 4, 34 (RAS Collection)