What if I told you that
by 2100, the sea level would increase by 1 to 4 feet? That doesn’t seem much,
does it? But the fact is that it is that seemingly small quantity is enough to
threaten islands and coastal areas like New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Sydney,
Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro. Global warming is one of the biggest problems
affecting our planet since the last 2 decades. There are people who think
global warming isn’t caused by humans, but I feel they are just avoiding the
truth. If we don’t try to stop it and instead continue taking advantage of
Earth and its resources, by mid-century the Arctic Ocean would become ice free.
Can you imagine that?
Most scientists agree
that the main cause of the trend in global warming is the greenhouse effect.
Sunlight passes through the atmosphere and warms the Earth’s surface. This heat
is radiated back into space. However, there are particular harmful gases in the
atmosphere which absorb the heat, and then re-emit it in all directions,
warming up the Earth’s surface. There are many such gases in the air, such as
carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, and these all are slowly leading to
our doom. These gases re-emit heat to the planet, which leads to global
warming. Now where do these gases come from? They normally come from burning
fossil fuels for day-to-day activities, such as for electricity, heat and
transportation. Most of these gases come from USA itself. The result is of 0.3
degrees Celsius, which may seem small; but the ripple effects of these small
things are extraordinary.
Fossil fuel consumption
represents for more than 50% of the human contribution to the greenhouse
effect, mainly via the emission of carbon dioxide. China is the largest
producer of carbon dioxide in the world. By producing over 1.6 billion million
tons of carbon dioxide a year, it is responsible for 28% of the world’s total
emissions, and produce triple the amount of carbon dioxide than the entire
continent of Europe! Three-fourth of this country’s emission comes from just
burning coal. This is all due to China’s industrialization, electrification and
increase in population. This trend is quite likely to continue as China is
extremely dependent on energy for development, and have very few alternatives
to coal. The worst part is, there are many such countries all around the world,
who knowingly or unknowingly are contributing for global warming.
Deforestation in Amazon
basin too is leading to this planet’s end. The forest land is cleared for many
reasons, and one of the most famous ones being logging. However, the
transformation of forest into pasture was inevitable. It was influenced by
national policies and is supported by major international agencies. This
encouraged migration and land clearing. The World Bank, along with other
international institutions, helped the government of Brazil improved and built
major highways from north to south and east to west. It was actually built in
hope of the exploitation of the Amazon. It helped make timber accessible and
promote agricultural enterprises. The reason logging in the Amazon, or anywhere
else in the world is so threatening to the world is because when the trees are
cut; the carbon the trees have stored are released into the atmosphere. In the
long run, there are fewer trees to convert the carbon dioxide in the air into
oxygen. The excess of these greenhouse gases in the air lead to global warming.
Amazon isn’t the only such forest. 32 million acres of land were cut down each
year between the years of 2000 to 2009. According to World Carefree Network, deforestation
accounts for more global carbon emissions than cars and other vehicles.
I can understand why people
think global warming is naturally occurring and not due to humans. In the past
Earth has experienced climate change, even when humans hardly used fossil
fuels. In Earth’s history before the Industrial Revolution, Earth’s climate
changed due to natural causes not related to human activity. Most often, global
climate has changed because of variations in sunlight Volcanic eruptions have
generated particles that reflect sunlight, and thus heating the planet.
Volcanic activity has also, in the deep past, increased greenhouse gases over
millions of years, contributing to episodes of global warming. Even the sea
levels rates have been increasing steadily since the last ice age. Some people
even say that carbon dioxide is a minor greenhouse gas. They say that water
vapor is a greenhouse gas, which is due to climate concerns which we humans
the thing is that, their influence is minute compared to humans. The amount of
fossil fuels burnt every year releases 21.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide
every year. People even say that water vapor is a bigger and
more harmful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. But the fact is that the
amount of water vapor formed depends on the surrounding temperature. Greenhouse
gases like carbon dioxide re-emit heat to the Earth’s surface. Water from
oceans, seas, etc. will evaporate and turn into water vapor when it is heated.
So, to reduce the amount of water vapor, we need to stop it from its source,
and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the world.
You may not know it,
but global warming can affect you directly and indirectly. This generation’s
scientists say that global warming is the biggest global health threat in the
21st century. It can affect us all, and as the temperature
increases, so does death. There are people all around the world who don’t have
ACs. As the deputy director of NRDC’s Clean Power Plan initiative Aliya Haq
said, “One or two days aren’t a big deal. But four days straight where
temperatures don’t go down, even at night, leads to severe health
consequences.” In the US itself, there are hundreds of deaths every year due
to health related issues. Imagine the number of deaths in other countries
facing extreme temperatures. Extreme heat kills more Americans every year than
hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and lightning combined!
I hope every single one of you has been made aware how we humans are
leading ourselves to our own doom. Raise awareness, and Save This Planet!