Global warming is the steady rise in the earth’s temperature that is typically brought on by the greenhouse effect caused by elevated amounts of carbon dioxide, CFCs, and other pollutants.
The average yearly global temperature has increased by just over 1 degree Celsius since the Industrial Revolution. The worldwide annual temperature climbed at a pace of 0.07o C every decade from 1880 (when accurate recordkeeping began) to 1980. But the rate of growth has more than doubled since 1981. The annual global temperature has increased by 0.18o C on average over the past 40 years.
According to experts from the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, the eight warmest years on record have already happened since 2014, and 2016 is still the warmest year on record. 2019 and 2020 were just a few degrees away from unseating 2016 from its throne. According to recent data, the year 2022 was the fifth-warmest on record.
Opponents of climate change have claimed that the rate of increase in global average temperature has “paused” or “slowed,” however, several studies have refuted this assertion. People all across the globe are already suffering from the effects of global warming.
The atmospheric build-up of CO2 and other contaminants, which absorb sunlight and solar energy reflected off the earth’s surface, causes global warming. The earth gets hotter because these contaminants, which may linger in the atmosphere for years or decades, retain the heat that would otherwise escape into space. The influence of these heat-trapping pollutants, such as CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, and synthetic fluorinated gases, is known as the greenhouse effect.
A rise in global temperatures might negatively impact the future of the earth. Extreme weather variations, such as terrifying storms, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural calamities, would result from widespread changes in the earth’s climate. Numerous species would go extinct due to ecological changes. Ecological changes cause a ripple effect that gradually moves closer to the source. Failure of ecosystems puts our environment in danger.
Various natural factors, such as water vapor and sunspots, are responsible for global warming. Even though scientists are constantly seeing and studying such powerful forces, there isn’t much that can be done to penetrate them. The greenhouse effect, which is what causes the current phase of global warming, is mainly brought on by human activity, more especially the combustion of fossil fuels like coal, oil, gasoline, and natural gas.
Let us look at some of the most common human-induced causes of global warming.
Deforestation is the large-scale cutting down of trees from the forest to make way for human activity. It poses a severe threat to the ecosystem since it may lead to soil erosion, habitat destruction, biodiversity loss, and water cycle disruptions.
As a result of the destruction of our forests, too much CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere, and insufficient oxygen is available to absorb it. To prevent the greenhouse effect and to ensure our ability to breathe and sustain life, we must safeguard our trees.
Deforestation is responsible for the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by chopping or burning them. The leading causes of deforestation, which contributes to global warming, are new development projects, the need for space for houses and industries, and wood. Paper and lumber are two of the consumer goods that forestry produces for us.
2. Fossil Fuels
Numerous gases are released into the environment each day by billions of automobiles. The average temperature of the Earth rises as a result of this warming. Fossil fuels create more than 75% of the electricity used in the world. When fossil fuels are burned, various gases are released into the atmosphere.
To create energy, fossil fuels like coal are burned. The primary fuel burned to provide energy is coal. When burned, coal produces around 1.7 times the amount of carbon dioxide per energy unit as natural gas and 1.25 times the amount as oil.
On the other hand, industries discharge various gases into the water and the atmosphere. The three main greenhouse gases are CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide. Different gases may trap heat in different ways. Compared to carbon dioxide, some of them retain more heat. When it comes to trapping heat in the atmosphere, methane is significantly more efficient than carbon dioxide. We emit carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere when we drive automobiles, use coal-fired power, and heat our homes with natural gas.
A rise in population exacerbates the issue of global warming. With more people comes an increased need for housing, automobiles, food, and atmospheric carbon dioxide.
The transportation industry is responsible for moving products and services. Therefore, an increase in demand for food will result in increased transportation. More automobiles on the road and in the air imply longer wait times at traffic lights, which means more gasoline will be used. This cycle will repeat itself as the demand for cars increases. To make room for more houses, schools, and universities, plants and trees must be chopped down, leading to deforestation, which fuels global warming, as was previously explained.
4. Fertilizer Use
The peculiarity of fertilizer is that it releases nitrous oxide after absorbing it into the soil. In comparison to carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide is 300 times more hazardous. The EPA strongly cautions that fertilizer use by the agricultural sector is one of the main contributors to global warming.
5. Dairy and Meat
The rearing, grazing, and production of animal products considerably contribute to the increase in global temperature because of our Western diet and lifestyle.
Recent studies have found that the combined methane emissions of 15 of the world’s most enormous meat and dairy producers exceed those of several of the largest countries, including Russia, Canada, and Australia. The most recent data on the combined GHG emissions of the same corporations are also included in the study. These emissions total around 734 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, more than Germany’s. These businesses are responsible for 11.1% of the world’s livestock-related methane emissions and about 3.4% of all anthropogenic methane emissions.
How is Global Warming Linked To Extreme Weather?
The effects of global warming can be seen and felt across the planet. However, the most prominent and immediate consequence is the extreme weather conditions.
Access to safe drinking water is threatened by drought conditions, which can feed out-of-control wildfires and cause dust storms, high heat events, and flash flooding.
On the other hand, more extensive rains can cause streams, rivers, and lakes to overflow, endangering people’s lives and property, contaminating water supplies, causing spills of dangerous materials, and encouraging the growth of unhealthy air.
In recent years, extreme heat waves have been responsible for tens of thousands of fatalities worldwide. Additionally, Antarctica has lost roughly four trillion metric tonnes of ice since the 1990s, a worrying portent of future occurrences.
What Can Be Done?
There is no quick fix for the issue of global warming. The approach requires a fundamental shift in technology, habits, and laws that promote resource efficiency and reduced waste.
On a larger scale, scientists are examining methods for capturing carbon dioxide from power plants and producing hydrogen in a sustainable manner that may be used to drive zero-emission fuel cells for mobility and energy.
As individuals, we can contribute to lowering overall global warming as we are ultimately responsible for the planet’s future.
1. Drive less
Avoid driving as much as possible and use the bus or train instead. When feasible, try carpooling, bicycling, or walking. For every mile you drive less, you’ll save one pound of CO2.
2. Switch to renewable energy
Utilizing renewable energy sources, such as solar, geothermal, wind, and biomass, instead of fossil fuels is one of the most efficient strategies to mitigate global warming. Power your home using sustainable energy sources.
3. Use energy-efficient devices
One can lower their energy use and contribute to creating renewable energy by investing in energy-efficient products like LED lighting, solar-powered showers, or bulbs. It decreases GHG emissions at the lowest cost and lessens the quantity of carbon dioxide discharged into the environment.
4. Plant More Trees
Planting more trees will lower the amount of CO2 in the air, and the shade from the trees may also help keep your home somewhat more relaxed in the summer.
The Bottom line
Although significant governmental and corporate changes are required, individual acts are also necessary. We can all work together to imagine and work toward a cleaner, healthier, and more inclusive future. In addition to using less fossil fuels in your day-to-day life, you may join the millions of individuals battling climate change worldwide.
Dr. Emily Greenfield is a highly accomplished environmentalist with over 30 years of experience in writing, reviewing, and publishing content on various environmental topics. Hailing from the United States, she has dedicated her career to raising awareness about environmental issues and promoting sustainable practices.