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Global Warming: Causes and Mitigation
It is an indisputable truth that global warming has become a major challenge and a cause of worry to humans who are at risk of extinction, bearing in mind the rate of continual rise in the earth’s average temperature. It is even more worrisome that some governments are yet to come to terms with the fact that global warming poses a serious threat to humans and requires urgent action.
As this phenomenon undermines food and water security, environmental sustainability and a disruption in the delicate balance of the ecosystem, climate change becomes inevitable coming with its dire consequences.
According to World Bank sources, the Millennium Development Goals MDGs and its prospects are also threatened by global climate changes. The resulting changes in weather “such as shifts in the intensity and pattern of rainfall and variations in temperature” would probably decrease agricultural/food output as a result of the death of the infrastructure; hence environmental disasters, like drought or flood, would displace people’s means of livelihood leading to poverty, migration and diseases. (World Bank, 2010).
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Global warming is indeed a major challenge for the world today. Although the figures may vary between regions, most people all over the world, however, agree that it is a serious problem requiring urgent attention. For instance, the World Bank 2010 development Indicators puts it succinctly:
“The poorest countries and regions face the greatest danger. Africa – with the most rain-fed agricultural land of any continent, half its population without access to improved water sources, and about 70 percent without access to improved sanitation facilities – is particularly vulnerable to climate change”. (World Bank, 2010).
In the United States, the views are “divided along ideological lines.” The Pew Research Center’s 2009 survey on global warming discovered that between the liberals and the conservatives, the former agree more than twice that global warming is a severe problem (about 66% vs. 30%)”. According to that survey, a similar divide is also evident in Britain. With those on the political left and those on the right putting a severity rate of 66% and 42% respectively. Germany, Spain and France have smaller ideological splits (Pew Research Center, 2009).
The world is already experiencing the effects of this warming with rising sea levels when the surface temperature warms up, melting ice from the glaciers, severe heat waves, and dangerous storms. Even drought, desertification and perceived extinction of animal life, goes a long way to show that global warming is not just a hoax.
Scientists believe these are mostly caused by man’s activities including the burning of fossil fuels thus, “releasing carbon dioxide, CO2 that traps heat within the atmosphere”. (World Health Organization, 2007). Also according to WHO source:
“the Earths’ surface has warmed by more than 0.8oC over the past century and by approximately 0.6 oC in the previous three decades.” With the continuous emissions of CO2, it is projected that the surface temperature will “rise by 1.1 oC to 6.4 oC over the 21st century”. (World Health Organization, 2007).
GreenHouse Gas, GHGs – causes of global warming are emitted in various ways apart from the combustion of fossil fuels in car, the CO2 gas it is “also released in landfills and agriculture (especially from the digestive systems of grazing animals), nitrous oxide from fertilizers, gases used for refrigeration and industrial processes, and the loss of forests that would otherwise store CO2”
Carbon dioxide is the highest cause of global warming among other greenhouse gases which also include: methane, nitrous oxide, and some other artificial gases. This has been on the increase as a result of industrialization and commercialization. Especially in China, the United States, the Russian Federation, India and Japan who are the world highest emitters of carbon dioxide. (World Bank, 2010)
Although the activities of man as regards to contributing to global warming are overwhelming and substantial, they are also caused by natural influences such as solar and volcanic activities
The importance therefore of mitigating the effects of global warming cannot be overemphasized as the consequence of not doing same could be very devastating.
While the majority of the world leaders agree to the fact that global warming is indeed a global challenge. They are, however, divided on the method of tackling this menace or “which country is trusted to do the right thing on this issue” (Pew Research Center, 2009).
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The United Nations has been spearheading moves to tackling the menace of climate change. The Copenhagen Conference on climate change further raised the awareness to a high level and the desire to tackle the menace and produced what is now known as the “Copenhagen Accord.” While the agreements were lauded by many as a significant success, many others doubted the practical application.
But what the conference achieved which is seen as a bold step towards ending the menace of global warming was the resolve of developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while adapting to the effects and to provide finance for doing same. The conference also agreed on a long-term plan of keeping the temperature below 2 degrees Celsius.
Whether these resolutions are adhered to remains to be seen. However, there are things we can do as individuals to reduce the rate of emission of greenhouse gases and the effects of climate change.
Attitudinal change is the key to achieving this and being more environmentally friendly. Practical steps include the use of recyclable products and buying of goods with minimal packing as to reduce waste, using energy-efficient products, using less energy, heat and preventing air leakages in your room. Driving less and walking or riding to school and work. That not only reduces the emission of carbon-dioxide but also keeps you physically fit.
Also to further reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, one can plant trees. That is a very effective way of cutting down carbon-dioxide because during photosynthesis, they (trees) use-up carbon-dioxide and give out oxygen. Others include; conserving water and encouraging others to adopt environmentally friendly practices to protect our future.
Government at all levels should adopt long term measures towards sustainable energy and encourage their citizens to “go green”. The role of sustainable energy education here cannot be overemphasized as it would increase the awareness of global warming while it gradually re-orientate the masses and make them more environmental friendly. They should implement plans and international agreements on reduction of carbon dioxide emissions.
Developed countries should assist developing countries to mitigate the effects of global warming and in implementing adaptation measures to the adverse effect of climate change.
A decisive action must be taken by all stakeholders to stop the way we pollute the environment, preserve and handover a safe environment generations yet unborn.
We must all act. The time is now.
- World Bank. (2010). 2010 World Bank Development Indicators. A World Bank publication. Retrieved from http://data.worldbank.org/sites/default/files/section3.pdf
- Pew Research Global Attitudes Project (2009). Global Warming Seen as a Major Problem Around the World Less Concern in the U.S., China and Russia. Retrieved from, Retrieved from http://www.pewglobal.org/2009/12/02/global-warming-seen-as-a-major-problem-around-the-world-less-concern-in-the-us-china-and-russia/
- World health organization (2007). Global climate change: implications for international public health policy. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/85/3/06-039503/en/