Elders have stories to share to the young. More often, they would compare their generation from ours; telling us how they had been when they were in our age, or telling us how everything has changed from their generation to ours – notable changes! In the Philippines, for example, our grandparents always complain for very intense heat they feel even in the early time of the day, which they had never experienced decades ago. This is just a testimony from them that proves our planet to have been warming. Why are there longer droughts and much heavier rainfalls, forest fires and frequent storms, and other “never been experienced before” phenomena cause the changing climate around the world? How are we involved in such changes
In a cold winter, greenhouse can help the tropical plants to thrive. It traps the weak UV radiation that enters from the sun and reflects it back, thus warming the inside. In much the same way, our planet has almost the same process.
UNDERSTANDING GLOBAL WARMING
Radiation from the sun and outer space that comes in the Earth is absorbed by land and ocean, and released at night as a thermal heat in the form of infrared radiation. This heat is released back to the space, however, some of it are trapped by the so-called ‘greenhouse gases’ that makes the Earth warm – this is often referred to as the ‘greenhouse effect’. Carbon dioxide is the most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere; others are water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, and other gases. These gases do what the roof of a greenhouse does. In this sense, these gases have a good effect to the Earth’s temperature system, but as these gases accumulate and build up they become threatening.
Greenhouse effect and global warming are not interchangeable terms, though they are interrelated. As discussed, greenhouse effect has a good effect to the Earth. However, global warming is the increase in the average temperature of Earth’s atmosphere and its ocean which has a more intense effect than the latter and has a more serious implication.
Logically, global warming occurs because there is an accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Remember that greenhouse gases trap the heat from the Earth’s surface and land to regulate its temperature, or else our planet will be very cold. As more greenhouse gases are trapped, more heat will be trapped also, thus, warming Earth gradually. Imagine that these gases used to have a good effect to the Earth but in excess, it turns to be destructive. Truly that too much is not good.
Today, we often hear global warming as one of the major environmental problems that also gives rise to societal, economic, and cultural problems.
Multiple studies from scientists reveal that global warming is due to human activities. Below is the top-5 list of these activities that involves emission of carbon dioxide and methane to the atmosphere.
Source: Environmental Protection Agency
1. Burning of fossil fuel in power plants.
With the widespread use of technology anywhere in the world, electricity is in need. Most of the electric companies burn coal, as it is one of the abundant fossil fuels in the world. Forty percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emission comes from this.
2. Burning of gasoline for transportation.
Transportation plays a vital role in our economic system; for example, transporting good from farm to market. We also need to travel going to our work place. Per Environmental Protection Agency, it contributes to 33% of U.S. carbon dioxide emission.
3. Methane emissions from animals, rice paddies, and from Arctic seabed.
As we thought, organic matter is not always good. In fact, it produced methane upon decomposition. Another source of this is methane clathrate, a compound containing large amount of methane trapped in the crystal structure of ice, so as the Earth warms, this ice will melt and will have a chance of emitting higher amount of methane.
In developing places, urbanization would mean converting farm lands to commercial and residential lands and this requires cutting down of woods. The demand for paper use also depend on cutting of woods.
5. Increase in usage of chemical fertilizer.
Chemical fertilizer contains nitrogen oxides that have 300 times more heat-trapping capacity than carbon dioxide, which contributes rapidly to the greenhouse gases build-up.
Effects of global warming are seen on our changing climate pattern. The warming of Earth due to greenhouse effect also warms the sea; as this go extreme, sea temperature will also increase extremely. The higher the sea temperature, the more intense and frequent storms will develop, and more glaciers will melt, thus, rising sea levels. Stronger storms will bring heavy rainfalls that will flood the cities and trigger water-borne diseases. Changing climate patterns will also threaten other living species on Earth that cannot adapt and survive.
Man’s survival depends on his nature which includes development. As he develops, new discoveries will be unveiled and humanity will be going to greater heights. However, along this exploration are consequences that he suffers now. He has been given power to make Earth better – not at its worse – but he should remember that with great power comes a great responsibility.
Environmental Protection Agency