Changing Ecosystems: Effects of Global Warming

Introduction

Global warming has contributed significantly to increasing the earth’s overall temperatures. It has become a major problem in modern society. Over the years, innovations and technology have created convenience for humans, while at the same time posing a threat to global warming due to the emission of greenhouse gases. Through these modern technologies, the earth is facing all forms of pollution. High percentages of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are produced and emitted while operating industrial machines.

Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are the main gases that cause global warming since they cause the heating effect on the atmosphere. The rise of temperature leads to ice melting in the North Pole, which results in a rise in the sea level. This gradual heating eventually leads to climate change worldwide.

Consequently, many regions are experiencing frequent natural disasters more than twice in a decade, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunami. These disasters do not only cause harm to humanity, but also the entire ecosystem. Human activities have created this situation. However, the situation can be changed by initiating measures to stop environmental degradation or even solve it by changing daily habits.

Causes of global warming

In a bid to appreciate global warming, it is necessary to understand the causes of the greenhouse effect. A wide array of human activities leads to the emission of greenhouse gases, which in turn increases the chances of global heating. The main reason that global warming has become a serious threat to Earth is due to the expansion of the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is “a condition whereby gases trap heat inside the atmosphere” (Casper 43). Such gases prevent the release of heat back to space, so the earth’s temperatures keep on rising.

The greenhouse gases include water vapor (H2O), which accounts for about 90% of the natural greenhouse warming (Black and Weisel 32). Other gases that are present in small portions, but with great impact include carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), and methane (CH4), which account for the remaining 10%. Such gases act as a feedback to the environment because of the withhold heat in the air.

In addition, such gases have a direct relation with temperature because when temperatures go up, more water will evaporate. Carbon dioxide is a significant part of the atmosphere because it exists naturally in the environment. The natural processes remove the emitted carbon dioxide at nearly similar rates, thus stabilizing the atmospheric cycle. Therefore, it becomes evident that human activities are causing excessive emission of greenhouse gases.

However, after the Industrial Revolution, human activities such as “deforestation, releasing smoke from factories, change in land use, and burning fossil fuel increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, thus causing the greenhouse gas effect” (Casper 43). The change in land use has seen increased deforestation leading to the concentration of carbon dioxide that could have been absorbed by plants.

In addition, when vegetation cover is burnt, the carbon stocks are mixed with oxygen to generate carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere (Delworth, Zeng, and Rosati 3840). Modern ways of agriculture that involve the use of agrochemicals have led to the release of a variety of greenhouse gases.

The continuous accrual of greenhouse gases heralds global warming, whose main effect is a rise in temperature and subsequent change in the water cycle. Consequently, atmospheric balance is lost, thus making it difficult for the excess amounts to be absorbed back to the atmosphere.

Effects of air, water, and oil pollution on earth

Unlike natural processes, human activities that emit greenhouse gases lack the systems to destroy them. Air pollution contributes the most to greenhouse gas emissions. The majority of the industrial processes all over the world, like cement production, coal mining, and natural gas production, release high percentages of greenhouse gases. Nearly one-third of nitrous oxide in the atmosphere comes from industrial activities and automobile emissions.

Following the excessive rearing of cattle and the uncontrolled production of rice, the methane gas concentration has risen at alarming rates. Moreover, since the emergence of the industrial revolution, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has exploded from approximately 270 parts per million (ppm) to nearly 370 ppm and the trend is expected to worsen in the near future due to the lack of proper and determined intervention programs (Hartmann and Meshbesher 44).

These gases are brought back to the ground through precipitation in the form of acidic rain that flows back to the sea and end up killing aquatics life, which contributes to atmospheric balance. On the other hand, oil spills entail the release of liquid hydrocarbon into the soil, and it is washed away into water bodies during rain seasons.

Such spills include marine oil spills that occur due to human activities like offshore drilling. Oil spills into water bodies have environmental consequences that endanger aquatic life. The death of aquatic life causes instability in the exchange of gases that lead to the accumulation of greenhouse gases.

Impacts of global warming

The evident worldwide impact of global warming is the rise of the sea level and the resultant climate change. Research by Pendergrass and Hartmann indicates that the eleven of the twelve last warmest years since the 18th Century were among the last twelve years stretching to 2014 (8360). In addition, the last decade has experienced sharp fluctuations in weather patterns. The observed warming trends are attributable to factors induced by humans, such as the burning of fossil fuels.

The inordinate accrual of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere causes temperature rise to unmanageable levels that lead to the melting of the Greenland and glaciers in the oceans. The melting of the “glacier with the current rate is expected to increase the sea level by about 6 meters by 2045” (Pendergrass and Hartmann 8370). Currently, over 300 million people live within or less than 5 meters above sea level (Miller 48). This aspect implies that people will experience gradual displacement in the next years if the problem is not solved.

Global warming is not only causing a rise in sea level but also is terminating aquatic life. For instance, corals and other sea plants cannot sustain high temperatures, and thus they are declining with global warming. Countries like Australia have witnessed the massive dying of corals for the last years following the acute rise in sea temperatures. In addition, drastic changes in temperatures will alter water cycles. Some regions will receive excessive precipitation, thus leading to floods, while others will receive less prolonged drought seasons.

Recent disasters attributed to global warming

Scientific research reaffirms that global warming effects on climate have doubled the threat of hurricanes. Due to climate change, hurricanes have increased in frequency, intensity, and duration, thus leading to huge damage to communities and ecosystems. Higher ocean temperatures, rising sea levels, and decline in wetlands project the effects and frequency of hurricanes. Global warming causes not only hurricanes but also a massive earthquake like the one experienced recently in Nepal, causing thousands of deaths.

When the sea level rises due to an increase in water masses due to global warming, changes in the internal sections of the earth can cause severe tremors (Seeley and Romps 2443). As glaciers melt, the impact on the underlying rocks reduces. This reduction in pressure lowers the melting temperature, thus making ice sheets vulnerable to a little increase in temperature. This connection is linked to the recent uplifts and the rapid melting of the glaciers that exacerbate drifts on the internal zones of the earth.

Due to the irregular precipitation cycles, some regions are likely to get a high amount of rainfall while others are getting drier. In this respect, due to the rise in temperatures, most regions are expected to get heavy rains, thus leading to floods followed by severe, longer, and frequent drought seasons (Black and Gary 38). The increased heat has led to drought spells, which deplete water supplies and reduce agricultural yields due to floods and erosion.

Major droughts, which were experienced just once in a century, now occur often and in different parts of the world. In the current decade, Australia has experienced drought in successive years with acute interruptions of low rainfall. The heatwave in Europe has been linked to dry spells that have caused grief to communities who rely on fisheries. Massive droughts in most African countries are an indicator of the looming danger if intervention measures are not implemented.

A common characteristic across the globe showing the effects of global warming is sharp, irregular, and unpredictable weather changes (Miller 51). The challenge to forecast weather changes has made it difficult for countries’ preparedness towards natural disasters.

Intervention measures

Renewable energy, recycling, reuse, and new technology can reduce the problem substantially. Energy conservation has the greatest capability to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Continued emission of carbon dioxide is attributable largely to the high use of fuel for motor vehicles. Campaigns to reduce burning fuels through transport have increased. Public transport has been targeted as a measure to reduce carbon dioxide emissions using low emission vehicles.

This aspect ensures that people share vehicles that have a large capacity to minimize emissions. Driving less reduces the burning of fuel, hence mitigating global warming. Walking, cycling, and using public transport have largely reduced the emission of carbon dioxide, and this trend can only lead to significant changes if emulated all over the globe. In addition, spreading awareness helps in the creation of knowledge on global warming.

In a bid to minimize landfills, disposable recycling products helps in the reduction of emission of greenhouse gases. Most products can be easily recycled instead of dumping them after use. For example, paper, cans, newspapers, and other materials can be reused, thus saving environmental degradation and costs. Shunning products with excessive packaging will lead to the reduction of waste materials, which fill the land and pollute the environment.

Reuse of construction and demolition waste such as metal, concrete, and other landfill materials reduce the release of carbon into the atmosphere. The use of green energy and clean power represents the long-term solution towards the mitigation of the exploding effects of climate change (Hartmann and Meshbesher 44).

Global warming is an international problem whereby the heavy industrial states are contributing to the highest percentage of greenhouse gas emissions. Given that the effects are widespread, efforts by one country to use clean energy or rather mitigate the problem will be futile in most cases. However, as it has been observed in the current decade, policies like carbon tax, if implemented as intended, can cause great changes.

Conclusion

Climate change is a product of global warming, and human activities play a significant role in the process. This assertion holds because human beings have no mechanism to retract greenhouse gases that they release to the atmosphere. Natural processes have enhanced atmospheric balance by ensuring a cyclic flow of carbon dioxide and other gases.

Unfortunately, humans have embarked on deforestation, which means that the rate of absorption of carbon dioxide has declined over the years, which explains why the effects of greenhouse gases are highly prevalent. Both short-term and long-term repercussions are undesirable to both humanity and the ecosystem. Meanwhile, humanity should bear the cost of intervention instead of waiting to pay later for the hefty damages.

Despite the available evidence, it is disappointing to learn that some individuals are debating whether global warming is happening, instead of focusing on how the climate is expected to change in the near future. Swift and positive decisions should be made in order to save humanity from the dangerous repercussions of global warming and climate change. The responsibility of preventing global warming remains a collective duty for every individual and the determination of the international community.

Works Cited

Black, Brian, and Gary Weisel. Global Warming, Santa Barbara: Greenwood, 2010. Print.

Casper, Julie. Changing Ecosystems: Effects of Global Warming, New York: Facts on File, 2010. Print.

Delworth, Thomas, Fanrong Zeng, and Anthony Rosati. “A Link between the Hiatus in Global Warming and North American Drought.” Journal of Climate 29.8 (2015): 3834-3845. Print.

Hartman, Eve, and Wendy Meshbesher. Climate Change, Chicago: Raintree, 2010. Print.

Miller, Debra. Global Warming, Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2013. Print.

Pendergrass, Angeline, and Dennis Hartmann. “Changes in the Distribution of Rain Frequency and Intensity in Response to Global Warming.” Journal of Climate 27.22 (2014): 8372-8383. Print.

Seeley, Jacob, and David Romps. “The Effect of Global Warming on Severe Thunderstorms in the United States.” Journal of Climate 28.6 (2015): 2443-2458. Print.