A Pragmatic Approach on Global Warming

“Global warming threatens our health, our economy, our natural resources, and our children’s future. It is clear we must act.”- Eliot Spitze

I. What is global warming?

global warming

Global warming is defined as “unusual rapid increase in Earth’s average surface temperature due to the greenhouse gases released by people burning fossil fuels”. In simple terms global warming happens when the temperature increases. Since 1980 average surface temperature has increased more than two thirds as compared to past climatic warming. This is also called as green house effect which occurs when methane and carbon dioxide accumulate more in the environment and retains heat from the sun in the atmosphere causing warming. Global warming hurts many people, plants and animals.
Not only greenhouse gases, but also other chemicals cause air pollution and negative impact on the environment. They include:

• Ozone
• Volatile organic compounds and smog formers
• Nitrogen Dioxide
• Carbon Monoxide
• Particulate Matter
• Sulfur Dioxide
• Lead

Percapita Carbon –dioxide emission (Metric Tons):

Percapita Carbon dioxide emission

II. What are the causes of global warming?

causes of global warming

Global warming can happen by natural causes or some man made factors. The natural causes include:

• Greenhouse effect
• Solar activity
• Volcanic emissions
• Orbital forcing

Below human factors also responsible for the global warming:

• Burning fossil fuels causes pollution
• Population. More population needs more transposition and responsible for release of more co2.
• Automobiles
• Deforestation for wood, pulp and farmland
• Smoke belching factories
• Using chemical fertilizers in agriculture

It is a well known fact that green house gases increase the earth’s temperature by 24 percent with carbon dioxide contributing to about 12 percent of it, water vapor 36 percent, Methane 5 to 10 percent and Ozone 3 to 7 percentage. The common green house gases are as follows:

• Carbon dioxide (CO2)
• Methane (CH4)
• Nitrous oxide (N2O)
• Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
• Perfluorocarbons (PFCs)
• Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6)

Solar variation is another cause of global warming which occurs due to the changes in the amount of radiant energy emitted by the sun. This solar variation changes along with the earth’s climate and temperature. Sun spots are also a cause of global warming. The sun is the major source of energy factor to the earth. Orbital forcing is also one of the main causes of global warming. Due to growing industrialization temperature has increased in the last decades. Global warming was started some 8000 years ago with the advent of agriculture and deforestation resulting in an increase in carbon dioxide in the environment.

III. What are the effects of global warming?

effects of global warming

Global warming causes great impact on human beings. High temperature due to global warming causes various diseases like west Nile and malaria. This shows a remarkable impact on a person’s health as well as on economy. Increasing diseases make countries spend more on medications and vaccinations. Otherwise drastic change in the temperature also causes other health problems like cardiovascular problems, heart stroke and respiratory problems. Drastic rise in temperature levels sometime lead to mortality also.

High temperature also creates other problems like- it releases harmful pollutants into the environment and causes respiratory problems like asthma and damage to lung tissues. Increasing temperature levels also decline the ground water levels and it impacts a lot on the agriculture production. High temperature also causes decreased sea levels. It also increases the cost of costal defenses. Warming also affects the ecosystems and decreases snow levels.

Climate change impact in India:

• Rajasthan- Drought
• Rann of Kutch – sea level rise
• Mumbai-Salt water intrusion
• Kerala –Productivity of Forest
• Tamil Nadu-Coral bleaching
• Ganges – Sedimentation problem
• Sunderbans-Sea level raise
• Northwest India-reduction In rice yield

Some practical experiences of global warming effects:

• Kullu Valley, Himachal Pradesh experienced a number of crop failures in the last 15 years
• Apple belt has moved 30 kilometers over the last 50 years due to poor production to reduced snowfall and its changed timing

Impact on coastal Orissa:

• In the Satavaya region which was once a cluster of seven villages, only two out of the seven villages exist and the other five villages have been submerged
• The Coastal villages have been affected by cyclone and floods killing more than 30,000 people. The sea has ingressed to about 1.5 km into Satavaya and 2.5 km into Kanakpur

Global impacts:

• The largest glacier on Mount Kenya has lost 92% of its mass
• Sea levels have risen by 10 – 25 cm
• The thickness of sea ice in the arctic has decreased by 40%
• The Common Murre has advanced breeding by 24 days per decade over the past 50 years in response to higher temperatures
• The Baltimore oriole is shifting northward and may soon disappear entirely from the Baltimore area
• Polar bear populations are coming under threat as food becomes harder to hunt

IV. What are the measures suggested to control global warming?

measures suggested to control global warming

• Avoid four wheelers for long distance and prefer bicycles. It will reduce the carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide in the environment. Make adjustments to your car to increase its fuel efficiency
• Don’t forget to switch off the lights, fans and air conditioners when they are not in use. Replacing the tube lights and bulbs with fluorescent lights also helps increase its fuel efficiency. Indirectly it helps you lower your electricity bills.
• Try to reduce the use of deodorants which contain CFC that causes ozone depletion and causes negative effects
• Ensure your air conditioners and water heaters filters are replaced regularly, as they save electricity. If the electronic appliances are out dated then replace them with energy saving appliances
• Don’t forget to switch off your television, computers and other electronic devices when they are not in use. Using devices on standby mode also consumes 20% of its energy in 20 hours. So, it is important to switch off the devices when they are not in use
• Use cloth bags instead of paper or plastic bags. Incase of unavailability of reusable cloth bags, use recyclable bags at least
• Don’t encourage deforestation and encourage next generations to promote plantations. Because plants play an important role in reducing carbon dioxide in the environment
• Traditional energy sources like wind energy, biomass, solar energy, hydro energy etc contribute in reducing the global warming
• Maximum usage of public transportation system instead of using own cars reduces carbon dioxide emission and also saves your money
• Organic soils capture and store carbon dioxide at much higher levels than conventionally farmed soils.
• Spread awareness about global warming and its negative effects. Encourage your near and dear to take initiatives to minimize global warming. Habituate yourself to gift a plant on parties and functions. A single tree can absorb amazing amounts of carbon dioxide over its lifetime.

V. What are the government initiatives to minimize global warming?

The government has taken many initiatives to stop global warming. The government has introduced Clean Air Act to reduce the airborne contaminants, smog and air pollution in general. By 2015 all products listed on the Clean Air Act will have a label (warning) on them. The pollutants cause cancer, birth defects in a new born child, breathing obstacles, brain and nerve damage, lung injuries and burning eyes. Government has taken many controlling measures by initializing the clean air act.

• Signed UNFCC on 10th June 1992
• India ratified the Kyoto protocol
• India has a National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC). The Eight National Missions Constituted are:

– National Solar Mission
– National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency
– National Mission on Sustainable Habitat
– National Water Mission
– National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem
– National Mission for a “ Green India”
– National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture
– National Mission on Strategic Mission on Climate Change

VI. What are the Myths and Facts about global warming?

Myths and Facts about global warming

1. Myth: The temperature caused with global warming is not unusual. Decade back also earth experienced the same temperature. It is the part of the natural cycle.
Fact: This is not true. Recent studies reveal that, the temperature recorded in previous years was less compared to recent years.
2. Myth: The recent global warming observed is caused by the urbanization and deforestation not green house gases.
Fact: It is not proven one. Green house gases are the major cause of global warming.
3. Myth: As per the reports of satellites, earth has not been warming
Fact: False. These satellites do not measure surface air temperature, or ground temperature
4. Myth: Human produced carbon dioxide has increased in the last 100 years, which is warming the earth in a remarkable way.
Fact: It is true that, since the industrial revolution CO2 content has increased from 0.2% to 0.4%. It is also known that carbon dioxide is increasing in a remarkable way.
5. Myth: CO2 is the common green house gas
Fact: Green house gases form 3% of atmosphere volume.
6. Myth: Global warming causes more storms and other weather extremes.
Fact: There is no scientific proof that supports the above statement on global scale.

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