What is Global Warming? It’s a topic known all around the world but not many know what it really is.
Global warming is the gradual increase of Earth’s temperature which is generally caused by the greenhouse effect and increased levels of carbon dioxide and other air pollutants. Before we as a society can start to look for the answer to reverse the effects global warming has brought upon Earth, we have to first notice that there is a problem happening around us.
We need to recognize what global warming is, what has caused/causes these changes still, and how it affects us as a whole.
The planet is heating up all around us at a record rate. For years greenhouse gasses, gasses like carbon dioxide that absorb radiation, have been emitted into Earth’s atmosphere. Most greenhouse gasses are from man made activities like burning fossil fuels. When greenhouse gasses go into the atmosphere, they can have many harmful repercussions, one of the most harmful being the depletion of the ozone layer.
The ozone layer is the layer above Earth’s atmosphere that absorbs dangerous ultraviolet radiation that comes from the sun. As the ozone layer becomes weaker, more ultraviolet radiation is allowed into the atmosphere which isn’t only harmful to the environment, but to humans too; ultraviolet rays can damage the eyes of humans and give them a higher chance of skin cancer. When people think of global warming the first thing that usually comes to mind is the rising of temperature.
The basic definition of global warming is the rising of the Earth’s atmospheric temperature, but that’s not the only thing changing. Throughout the years the sea levels have also been rising, but what causes these sea levels to rise? Many people may think sea levels rise because it rains a lot, and although that might add to the water a little, it isn’t enough to raise the level from 4 to 8 inches a year. When the world heats up, it causes the really cold and icy places to start to melt. When the glaciers of Antarctica start to melt, they melt straight into the water. Usually the melting of glaciers is normal, each year around the summer season when it usually gets warmer a little bit breaks off and goes into the water, but because of global warming this has now changed. You learn in science class properties of water, the different phases and how they move. When water freezes it expands, and this also happens when water is heated. As Earth’s atmosphere starts to heat up so does the water within it, and when the water expands with no space to spread to, sea levels begin to rise, and they’ve been doing so much faster than normal, “…the Global Mean Sea Level (GMSL) has risen by 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 centimeters). However, the annual rate of rise over the past 20 years has been 0.13 inches (3.2 millimeters) a year…” (National Geographic) What this is tellinng us is that over the years that the sea level has been recorded, it has basically doubled its rising rate across the world. Higher sea levels means it becomes much easier for coastal cities and islands to become dangerously flooded when the weather gets bad.
The most well known causes of global warming are greenhouse gasses, specifically carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide gets emitted into the air by human activities like the release of fossil fuels or the burning of coal/oil, but that’s not the only harmful fuel, others like methane are also produced.There are many other factors that lead to global warming; one factor that not many people think about is farming, “Animals, livestock like sheep and cattle, produce methane, a greenhouse gas. When livestock grazed at a large scale, as in Australia, the amount of methane produced is a big contributor to global warming.” (Caught). What this means is that farming leaves a huge carbon footprint. There are a countless number of chemicals in the fertilizers and pesticides used that can’t decompose in a natural way, so they end up back in the atmosphere breaking away the ozone layer, letting harmful rays in and heating up the Earth.
Society may be aware that Global Warming is going on, but they may also think it’s just something that doesn’t matter because it doesn’t affect their everyday life, or so they think. People may not be aware of the relationship between global warming and the storms happening all around the world, “Regions previously thought to be safe from floods are increasingly threatened by them” (Union of Concerned Scientist). Parts of the world that previously barely experienced storms or saw them on a much smaller scale are now being hit with severe storms that catch them off guard with little time to prepare. As the world heats up it is causes more rain and snowfall per year, increasing the national flood rate with almost each storm’s (like hurricane sandy or harvey) rainfall percentage rising.
Global warming is a worldwide problem. Earth’s atmospheric temperature is increasing and sea levels are rising at a record rate with no sign of slowing down anytime soon. When (and if) society starts to notice these changes and problems happening to the world around them, then an answer could be in the future, but the first step is acknowledging that there is an issue at hand.