I have chosen to speak about Global warming because it is a major scientific issue in the media.
Problems facing the environment today are vast and diverse. Destruction of the world's rain forests, the depletion of the ozone layer, air pollution, water pollution, chemical pollution and global warming are just some of the problems that will reach dangerous proportions in the coming decades.
The three aspects of global warming I will discuss are:
What is global warming? What are the effects of global warming? What are we doing to reduce global warming?
Global warming is a greenhouse effect on the Earth. Solar energy is transmitted to earth by the sun. Excess energy should reradiate back into space through the earth's atmosphere. But, because of increased carbon dioxide and methane in the earth because of emissions from polluters such as factories and cars, excess energy is trapped in the earth's atmosphere and causes a warming of the earth called "Global Warming."
Starting in the mid-1700s, human activities began to alter the composition of the atmosphere. Vast supplies of charcoal, and later coal and oil, fed the growing fires of the Industrial Revolution. The carbon stored in these fuels was released to the air as carbon dioxide - a gas that traps heat in the atmosphere. Today, for every one of the more than 5.8 billion people on Earth, nearly six tons of carbon dioxide is spewed into the air every year. As a result of our activities, the gas trapped inside the atmosphere has risen by more than 30 percent in the last 250 years. These greenhouse gases which prevent infrared radiation from escaping into space, keep the earth's temperature warm. According to the British Meteorological Office the earth is getting warmer each year - In fact 1995 was the warmest year on record.
A lot of people say that a warmer earth is not such a bad thing: just look at the wonderful weather we are experiencing right now and it's almost Christmas.
So how could global warming potentially harm us?
In our lifetime, and in on our children's children's lifetime; we will not be effected. But if we keep on the same pace as now the warmer temperatures are expected to raise the sea level by expanding ocean water, melting mountain glaciers, and melting parts of the Greenland Ice Sheet.
A United Nations panel of scientists has predicted that if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced, the average global temperature could rise by 1. to 3.5. C (1.8. to 6.3. F) by the year 2100. So what are we doing to slow down and hopefully stop this warming of the earth?
Last October Vice President Al Gore and the White House hosted a conference on Global Climate change. The CEO's of large polluting companies where invited to participate in the discussions to reduce emissions into the earth's atmosphere. The CEO of Sun Oil Company said that the entire oil industry was striving to cut down emissions from their refineries. Automakers at the conference said that they were engineering the cars of the future to have fewer and fewer emissions. As individuals you and I can do something to help too. In this country alone we release about 40,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per person each year. If we can reduce energy use enough to lower greenhouse gas emissions by about 2% a year, in ten years we will "lose" about 7000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per person.
We can save energy by putting off lights in empty rooms, making fewer trips in our cars, installing environment friendly appliances in our houses. Whenever you save energy--or use it more efficiently-- you not only save money, you also reduce the demand for coal, oil and natural gas. Less burning of these fossil fuels means lower emissions of carbon dioxide, the major contributor to global warming.