Global warming has been a topic of discussion over the last few years. The big talk is if it is truly a real thing or something that is made up and made to make us worry. Over the last few years, we have seen an increase in weather phenomena’s such as snow, floods, hurricanes, and droughts. The debate is if the cause Of these events is a natural process or not. The way our planet is warmed is by the sun; the sun’s heat rays are absorbed by greenhouse gases, and become trapped in the atmosphere by greenhouse gases, such as water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane.
If there were no greenhouse asses, we would see little to no rays being absorbed by the Earth, causing it to be cold. However, the question we must ask is, are we absorbing too much of the sun’s rays and are we causing an issue with our manufacturing, transportation, and electricity use? If global warming is real, then our environment is in danger. To understand global warming, we must first understand the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect happens when rays from the sun, often called energy, hit the earth’s surface. They pass through our atmosphere and some are reflected back into space.
However, with our burning of fossil fuels, we re putting more carbon dioxide and methane gases into the atmosphere. That is preventing the reflection of the sun’s rays from being reflected back into space, because the gas traps the heat within (NASA). The rising temperatures and the gas trapping are causing extreme climate changes on Earth. It’s important to note that climate change and global warming are two different things. Global warming refers to long-term trends of rising average global temperatures. Climate change is exactly what it means.
It is the changes in the global climate which results in an increase temperature over he whole globe. Climate change tracks the precipitation patterns, heat waves, and other extreme weather patterns. Greenhouse gas emissions are causing global warming, which is causing climate change. (Specialization) This brings us back to the greenhouse gases. According to the EPA, Carbon dioxide makes up over 50% of the greenhouse gases. It can also be found naturally in the environment and is not a threat to the environment if given in small doses.
It is a part of the Earth’s carbon cycle, which is the natural circulation of carbon among the atmosphere, soil, plants, animals, and the ocean. Carbon dioxide can come from burning fossil fuels to help produce electricity, burning gasoline to run vehicles, and some industrial or manufacturing process, like producing cement. Carbon dioxide stays in our atmosphere from 50 to a thousand years. From 1 990 to 2012, the carbon dioxide emission increased about 5% (EPA). The increase was due to many long term and short term factors, including public growth, energy prices, behavior changes, and temperatures.
The EPA predicts that the carbon dioxide emissions will rise almost 2% between 2005 and 2020. The next highest greenhouse gas we have is methane. Methane comes from landfills, production and transportation of natural gas, coal mining, and raising live stock. Methane stays in our atmosphere for 1 2 years. However, even though methane’s time on earth is shorter, it is much more effective at trapping radiation that carbon dioxide. Over 60% of the methane emissions come from human activities, which is much more than carbon dioxide.
The good thing is that emissions in the united States have decreased by almost 1 1% from 1990 and 2012. This is from the decrease of exploration and production of natural gas and petroleum products, however there was an increase of emission from resources with agricultural activities, but not enough to raise all methane emissions. If we stay on this track we will keep decreasing, but if we make significant changes we will decrease even more. (EPA). Another gas we need to look into is nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide stays in our atmosphere for 114 years, and 40% of the emissions come from human activities.
It can be mainly found in agriculture, transportation, and industry, the same as the other two big gases. So cutting down our emissions in both carbon dioxide and methane will help us cut our emissions with this gas. Our missions of nitrous oxide have increased by 3% since 1990. Going forward, we can expect to see a 5$ increase before 2020 due to emissions from agricultural activities. (EPA) Our greenhouse gas emissions and the climate change are affecting our permafrost. Permafrost is soil that has been frozen year round for at least two years.
The top layer of permafrost is considered to be the active layer, and can be thawed during the summer months. Recently the active layers Of permafrost have gotten larger, causing more melting each summer. Permafrost stores greenhouse gas emissions, and has twice as much carbon then that is in the atmosphere. The issue is not as much that permafrost is melting and being affected by climate change. But what will happen when the permafrost melts and releases the greenhouse gases it stores, and what will happen to climate change then. (Underground) Deforestation is another cause of global warming.
Trees play a very crucial role in absorbing greenhouse gases. A single tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide a year, and can sequester 1 ton of carbon dioxide by the time it reaches age 40. (INCISE) Fewer forests will mean larger amounts of those gases in our atmosphere, and increase the speed of global warming. Another issue with deforestation that will affect climate change is the forest soil. Without protection from the trees, it will quickly dry out, which will cause a reduction in the water vapor returning into the atmosphere.
It will cause forest lands to dry out and may cause them to become deserts. When the industrial revolution started in 1780, the carbon dioxide emission has raised significantly. This happened because of the burning of fossil fuels. Since the industrial revolution, humans have increased our carbon emissions by a third. This is the most important long-lived “forcing’ of climate change. The evidence of this can be supported by the increase in natural disasters seen around the United States. Scientists believe that all of the factors need to be addressed and fixed to help save our planet.
Some scientists believe that it is already too late to do something, because of all of the evidence that has been building up over the last few years. Scientists will argue that the earth is getting hotter, which is a correct claim. Some of the warmest years have taken place in the last ten years, and since 1980 our average temperature has been raised. In 2004 there were over 5 raciness, 3 tropical storms, 2 earthquakes, 2 tornado outbreaks, 1 flood, a Summer and blizzard storms, which caused over 100 deaths.
Alaska had the worst fire seasons, they have seen with over 6 million acres burned. That was just in the United States. In the Caribbean, over 2,000 people died due to flooding, that lasted for a week. (Climate). Scientists agree that Earth is heating up between 2-9 degrees Fahrenheit, which is causing not only the earth’s crust to heat but the oceans to heat up as well. The oceans take 93% of the solar energy that hit the earth. Due to this, the ocean is as well getting warmer. Due to that fact, tropical storms are gaining strength and power when they form.
Scientists also found that the destructive potential of hurricanes has greatly increased along with the ocean temperatures in the last 35 years. (NRC) The Atlantic hurricane season last from June to November, but are very active from mid-August to November, which give about 6 hurricanes every year. Tropical storms that bring high winds, of at least 39 MPH where hurricanes must have winds over 74 MPH. Apart from the violent winds and heavy rain they all bring in, they can also create tornadoes, high waves, and widespread loading. Since the mid-1 950;g’s there has been an increase in North Atlantic tropical storms.
The top 40 costliest hurricanes in the Atlantic season, all happened after 1965, with 2005 being the worst season yet. In 2005, we experienced over 28 storms, 15 hurricanes, with over 7 of them being a category 3+. It resulted In over 3,913 deaths and over 159 billion dollars worth of damage. It was a record high year for total depressions, storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes. The original forecast was nowhere close to what the average was. The ocean is getting warmer is also causing the arctic to melt. Scientists are closely watching the Arctic to see what is going to happen to the rest of the world.
Average temperatures in the Arctic are rising as fast there as anywhere else in the world. The ice is getting thinner, melting, and breaking. The Ward Hunt Ice Shelf has been around for over 3,000 years before it started cracking in 2000. Within novo years, it split all the way though, and is now breaking into small pieces. Images that are from NASA satellites show that areas of permanent ice coverage are decreasing by 9% each decade, if it continues, the Arctic will become ice-free by the end of this century. The Arctic ice cap melting is accelerating global warming.
The snow and ice keep a cool protective layer over the Arctic, but now that the covering is melting, the earth is absorbing more sunlight and raising the temperatures. The increase of temperatures is causing glaciers and land-based ice sheets to melt. The melting is causing sea levels to rise, coastal flooding, and threatening low-lying areas around the globe. Scientist predict that by 21 00 the sea level will have risen by three feet, causing issues for cities like Shanghai, which is only six feet above water, and the island of the Maldives, which is less than six feet over sea level.