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Autor: anton • March 9, 2011 • 1,777 Words (8 Pages) • 666 Views
Imagine if the major masses of ice around the world melted and the Earth went through another ice age. This thought may be inconclusive to many, but evidence has been gathered throughout the past few years to support the idea of global warming. Global warming is the increase in the average temperature of the EarthÐ²Ð‚™s surface based upon worldwide temperature records. The highest temperatures on record are being set all around the globe; Ð²Ð‚Ñšaccording to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the decade of 1998-2007 is the warmest on recordÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (Ð²Ð‚ÑšGlobal WarmingÐ²Ð‚Ñœ). If this global warming continues, devastating effects can be inflicted on the Earth and its inhabitants. To fully comprehend the idea of global warming, one must understand the causes, effects, and possible solutions to global warming.
To understand one of the causes of global warming, one must understand the greenhouse effect. As wavelengths of light from the sun enter the atmosphere of the Earth, they are absorbed by clouds, ice caps, particles in the air. The rest is absorbed by the oceans and the land. This absorption of solar radiation heats up the EarthÐ²Ð‚™s surface. The warming of the Earth has also sped up due Ð²Ð‚Ñšto the atmospheric burden of greenhouse gases produced by everything industrial, from power plants burning fossil fuels to gas-guzzling carsÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (New Global Warming Evidence Presented). The greenhouse gases trap the heat the Earth releases to make it warmer than it should be. The greenhouse effect has been used to describe the rising of the carbon dioxide levels in the EarthÐ²Ð‚™s atmosphere. Carbon dioxide concentration levels have dramatically increased as the Ð²Ð‚Ñšcarbon dioxide radiative forcing increased by 20% from 1995 to 2005, the largest change for any decade in at least the last 200 yearsÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (Ð²Ð‚ÑšGlobal WarmingÐ²Ð‚Ñœ). However, the greenhouse effect also allows life to exist on the Earth as it keeps the climate warm.
Through his analyzing of carbon dioxide levels in the EarthÐ²Ð‚™s atmosphere, Dr. Charles D. Keeling came to the conclusion that there has been a significant increase in the carbon dioxide levels in the EarthÐ²Ð‚™s atmosphere. The concentration of carbon dioxide is measured by parts per million by volume (ppmv). From the concentration of ancient air trapped in polar ice, it was found that Ð²Ð‚Ñšbefore the industrial era, circa 1800, atmospheric CO2 concentration was between 275 and 280 ppmv for several thousand yearsÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (Ð²Ð‚ÑšKeeling CurveÐ²Ð‚Ñœ). Dr. Keeling started measuring the concentration in 1958. At that time the concentration of carbon dioxide in the EarthÐ²Ð‚™s atmosphere was near 315 ppmv. However, he found that Ð²Ð‚Ñšby the year 2000 it has risen to about 367 ppmvÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (Ð²Ð‚ÑšKeeling CurveÐ²Ð‚Ñœ). The Keeling Curve is the line that shows the increase in the carbon dioxide concentration in the EarthÐ²Ð‚™s atmosphere. This significant rise in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the EarthÐ²Ð‚™s atmosphere is due to too much greenhouse gases being released into the EarthÐ²Ð‚™s atmosphere by factories, cars, and the combustion of fossil fuels. This increase in carbon dioxide raises the EarthÐ²Ð‚™s temperature and causes many problems.
The signs of global warming can be seen in the behavior of plants and animals. The increase in temperature will mean shorter winters and spring coming at an earlier time in the year. Animals have been laying their eggs earlier and plants have been blooming earlier than before. Shortening the winter and causing spring to come earlier may disrupt animal migrations, alter competitive balances among species, and cause other unforeseen problems. Animals are forced to migrate due to the changes in temperature. For instance, polar bears are forced to move north due to the ice melting and huge chunks breaking off into the oceans. If animals are unable to adapt to the weather and climate changes, they will be killed or forced into extinctionÐ²Ð‚"survival of the fittest. Along with warmer temperatures comes an increase in diseases. Increases in temperature Ð²Ð‚Ñšallow mosquitoes that transmit diseases such as malaria and dengue fever to extend their ranges and increase both their biting rate and their ability to infect humansÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (Ð²Ð‚ÑšGlobal Warming: Early Warning SignsÐ²Ð‚Ñœ).
Another impact global warming has is that it melts the important ice and glaciers on the Earth. In addition to storing freshwater, glacier runoff is a very significant source of freshwater all around the world. Many scientists also use glaciers for research purposes by drilling holes into them and studying the ice. If global warming continues to increase, Ð²Ð‚Ñšall glaciers in Glacier National Park could be gone by 2030Ð²Ð‚Ñœ (Ð²Ð‚ÑšEvidence of Global WarmingÐ²Ð‚Ñœ). The Antarctic sea ice and the Arctic sea ice are also melting at a rapid speed due to global warming; Ð²Ð‚Ñšarctic sea ice has shrunk by 250 million acresÐ²Ð‚"an area the size of California, Maryland and Texas combinedÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (Ð²Ð‚ÑšEvidence of Global WarmingÐ²Ð‚Ñœ). The Greenland ice has also shown that it has been melting throughout the years. This is evident as about Ð²Ð‚Ñš11 cubic miles of ice is melting along Greenland's coasts yearly, accounting for 7% of the annual global sea level riseÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (Ð²Ð‚ÑšEvidence of Global WarmingÐ²Ð‚Ñœ). This melting of glaciers and ice adds to the water present in the oceans. Adding on to the water content in the oceans will lead to floods, storms, and hurricanes.
Methane hydrates are said to be a possible contributor to the prevention of global warming. They are being evaluated as the fuel for the future. Methane hydrates from at formed at low temperature and high pressure, and are found at the bottom of the ocean and the arctic permafrost. The amount of energy that is contained in methane hydrates is monumental, Ð²Ð‚Ñšpossibly exceeding the combined energy content of all other known fossil fuelsÐ²Ð‚Ñœ (Ð²Ð‚ÑšMethane Hydrate- The Gas Resource of the FutureÐ²Ð‚Ñœ). However, the availability of methane hydrate for energy use is not known right now. Although there may be doubt to the production of methane hydrates, Ð²Ð‚Ñšmodeling of small-volume production tests in the U.S. and Canadian Arctic suggest that commercial production is possible