Global Warning – What You Need To Know

waterAlmost everyone has heard about global warming. It has become a common term in today’s vocabulary list. From environmentalists to politicians, global warming has become a byword for everything that has gone wrong to the world that we now live in. As frequent as many may have heard of global warming, only a few may have a clear understanding of it.

Most people may have sourced their information from second hand sources that may not be able to give them an accurate account of what global warming really is, what causes it, and the extent of changes that it has brought upon into our planet’s current condition. Here is, in a nutshell, a short explanation of what global warming really is all about.

In its simplest terms, global warming is the observed increase in the Earth’s average temperature over a period of time. It has been discovered that global temperatures have steadily risen over the past century.

The reason seen for this is the increased amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. The so-called “greenhouse effect” has been identified as causing global temperatures to rise up. The greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere prevents radiated heat from the sun to escape back into space. Carbon dioxide and the other greenhouse gases act as a barrier that enable reflected heat to be sent back into the earth instead of escaping into space. This effect has caused the excess heat to increase land and sea temperatures over the years.

As the earth begins to warm up, scientists have began to develop theories of possible effects of prolonged global warming. As the earth heats up, scientists believe that sea levels will begin to rise as the polar ice caps slowly melts up. This rise in the sea level will then cause worldwide flooding where coastal cities and areas will be gobbled up by the rising water levels. Land areas would be changed with valuable real estate going under water.

Global warming is also seen to affect global weather with an increased incidence of extreme weather events. Extreme droughts will be reported on some countries while severe storm surges will be seen striking other parts of the world. Weather will become more unpredictable. This will have a great impact on agriculture as well as on the world economy in general. To many people, this might be an extreme scenario of what could happen in the future. But by the way things are looking right now, such a scenario is alarmingly getting more and more common.

Global warming has also been seen to have a serious effect on the earth’s various ecosystems. The changing conditions brought about by global warming such as higher temperatures and abnormal weather changes may drive some species out of their natural habitats. Life patterns of some species will gradually change with those not able to cope up possibly heading towards extinction. The delicate balance that both plant and animal ecosystems have depended on for survival may suddenly be altered with drastic consequences.

The acceleration of the rising temperatures brought about by global warming has been caused in part by human activity. Industrialization has been blamed for the increased emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Here are some known sources of carbon dioxide emissions brought about by daily human activity:

  • Power Plants– electricity generation in most countries still depend on the burning of fossil fuel such as coal. Coal has been seen to emit nearly two times as much carbon per unit of energy produced as compared to natural gas.

  • Cars– vehicles account for about 20 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the US alone. The amount of carbon dioxide emitted by each car would depend on its mileage and engine efficiency. Those with poor gas mileage contribute the most to global warming. Economy cars are seen to emit lesser carbon dioxide than the more popular gas-guzzling SUV’s of today.

  • Deforestation– the destruction of the world’s forests is the second leading principal cause of increased carbon dioxide emissions due to human activity. The burning and cutting of millions of acres of forests worldwide each year emits millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

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