Greenhouse gases are gases that occur in the Earth’s atmosphere and tend to take in or send forth radiation within the thermal infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. This process leads to the greenhouse effect, which involves the absorption and the radiation of thermal radiation in all directions by the gases. There are five greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere, of which the most basic include carbon dioxide, ozone, and water vapor. Others include methane and Nitrous oxide.
When the greenhouse effect occurs, part of the energy is directed back towards the surface. This process causes the temperatures of the atmosphere to rise beyond the normal ranges, and this effect is called global warming. Human activities have been known to increase the effect of greenhouse gases and cause global warming. Global warming poses a threat to life since its effects are diverse and dangerous. The increased temperature might affect the pattern of precipitation and cause expansions of deserts. This would also cause ice melting in the arctic regions and cause the rise of the sea level. Other effects include the occurrence of drought or tsunamis. Species extinction, both aquatic and terrestrial, may occur.
Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto in 1997 and is one of the major tools for tackling climate change. It entered into an agreement with developed nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their industries and through other human activities. The Kyoto Protocol aimed at addressing the major greenhouse gases, which are nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbon, methane, carbon dioxide, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride. This was a major step to curb the issue of global warming.
Rio Declaration was adopted in Brazil in 1992. It aimed to address climate change due to global warming. One of the adopted principles is the need to develop to meet the environmental needs of both the current generations and the future generations. This is what is meant by environmental sustainability. Another principle was that environmental impact assessments should be undertaken for activities that are likely to negatively impact the environment.
Johannesburg World Summit was adopted in 2002, and it focused on sustainable development. South Africa hosted the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). The various delegates that attended the WSSD contributed to the emission of greenhouse gases since there was fuel consumption during travel. They consumed electricity and contributed to the dumping of waste that would pollute the environment. To compensate for this, they started projects in Johannesburg that would help in the reduction of greenhouse gases.
Arguments against these facts about the greenhouse gases potentially causing global warming have also surfaced. Many scientists argue that there is no concrete evidence that proves that the greenhouse gases produced by man will cause global warming. Other arguments also criticize the computer models that give predictions about global warming as being inaccurate since they have undergone some technical adjustments by the designers.
Other arguments still report that a suitable amount of global warming will benefit the world as it may trigger civilization. This argument came about as some scientists flashed back to the Medieval Period, which was characterized by very hot days-hotter than the hottest ever recorded temperature in the modern-day. It is in that period that civilization began. They, therefore, believe that when those earth-surface temperatures are reached, it will provide a perfect environment for civilization to occur.
The theory of classical utilitarianism is an approach that was employed to respond to the change in the climate. Utilitarianists believed that climate change policies need to ensure maximum utilization by both the present and future generations. This approach is similar to the cost-benefit analysis but differs from it in that the gains or losses are analyzed using utility rather than monetary value. It also differs from cost-benefit analysis in that utilitarianism provides for equality to be offered for the well-being of both the future and past generations. The climate change policies that emerged included climate stabilization, which maintains the emission of greenhouse gases at a certain level that ensures their concentrations are maintained at manageable levels. Business-as-usual was a policy that suggested that the greenhouse gases emission be left unaltered. A cost-benefit analysis was a social rule that discounted the future at a rate that equalized that of the return on investments. Other social rules included Classical utilitarianism.
Ship-owners in Australia began the fight to reduce the emissions of carbon from international shipping. They, therefore, using market-based instruments to be applied to control the emissions of greenhouse gases universally. This was the principle of universalism. According to some studies, the shipping industry was rated as the most fuel-efficient mode of industrial transport even though it is involved in transporting 90 percent of all products.
Other strategies have been employed to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases both domestically and internationally. One of the strategies is through taxation. When industries are taxed depending on the number of greenhouse gases it produces, then this discourages people from producing huge amounts of greenhouse gases. These taxes are called carbon gases, and they have caused many countries in Europe to reduce taxes on income and increased taxes levied on oil and other petroleum products that increase the emission of greenhouse gases. This has led to the increase in prices of fuel in the European countries as compared to American countries.
Another approach is the use of regulations. Some regulations set by the government through its laws ensure that only vehicles or machinery meet a certain standard for it to be of use. These standards eliminate possibilities that pose threats to the environment. All these approaches are geared towards meeting the goal of reducing up to 6 percent of the greenhouse gases that were set by the Kyoto Protocol.
Global warming is an issue of global concern, and every nation should be involved in the fight against climate change by assessing some of the activities the people engage in to ensure that they are environmentally friendly and that would lead to environmental sustainability.