Article by, Deep Shah
I ask you this question – “Does climate change really matter?” We hear this term so much in the news these days yet when it comes to actual facts and figures the numbers and data used is very subjective.
Before we get into this debate let us discuss a few basics of the matter….
What is Global Warming?
Global warmth begins with sunlight. When light from the Sun reaches the Earth, roughly 30 percent of it is reflected back into space by clouds, atmospheric particles, reflective ground surfaces, and even ocean surf. The remaining 70 percent of the light is absorbed by the land, air, and oceans, heating our planet’s surface and atmosphere and making life on Earth possible.
The earth is naturally warmed by rays (or radiation) from the sun which pass through the earth’s atmosphere and are reflected back out to space again.
The atmosphere’s made up of layers of gases, some of which are called ‘greenhouse gases’. They’re mostly natural and make up a kind of thermal blanket over the earth.
This lets some of the rays back out of the atmosphere, keeping the earth at the right temperature for animals, plants and humans to survive (60°F/16°C).
So some global warming is good right? Well not quite…..
If extra greenhouse gases are made, the thermal blanket gets thicker and too much heat is kept in the earth’s atmosphere. That’s when global warming’s bad.
But why should be worry about a seemingly small rises in temperature?
If Earth gets hotter, some of the important changes could happen:
- Water expands when it’s heated and oceans absorb more heat than land, so sea levels would rise.
- Sea levels would also rise due to the melting of the glaciers and sea ice.
- Cities on coasts would flood.
- Places that usually get lots of rain and snowfall might get hotter and drier.
- Lakes and rivers could dry up.
- There would be more droughts making hard to grow crops.
- Less water would be available for drinking, showers and swimming pools.
- Some plants and animals might become extinct because of the heat.
- Hurricanes, tornadoes and other storms which are caused by changes in heat and water evaporation may get more common.
What’s being done about it?
The United Nations has meetings where world leaders agree on what to do about global warming.
Every five years, the Earth Summit happens.
Global Leaders have agreed the world can cut the amount of carbon dioxide that’s released into the atmosphere by changing the way power is produced too.
In February 2014, the British Government set out its plans to produce electricity using “greener” ways.
What are the challenges faced?
Many challenges face the actual reduction of global warming and greenhouse gases. The solution is clear “cut greenhouse gases” but how can this be achieved?
Emerging countries argue that they need to continue growing and expand to meet consumer demand and economic growth to increase the living standard of the nations.
Developing countries want to implement greener technology but would developing countries be able to afford this? Who will pay for these new “greener technologies”?
In the future, it is very likely that rising temperatures will lead to more frequent heat waves, and virtually certain that the seas will rise, which could leave low-lying nations awash in seawater.
Warmer temperatures will alter weather patterns, making it likely that there will be more intense droughts and more intense rain events. Moreover, global warming will last thousands of years.
To gain an understanding of how global warming might impact humanity, it is necessary to understand what global warming is, how scientists measure it, and how forecasts for the future are made.