Poor air quality, polluted water and crowded landfills are just some of the many environmental problems that have significant impact on developing and industrial countries. Aside from these, perhaps one more threat to the environment, but a less ominous one, is the general increase in temperatures around the world and its resulting climatic changes.
This phenomenon, known as global warming, certainly has serious unfavorable effects on humans and other living creations on the planet. But as a complex problem, governments and experts are having a hard time addressing it, even leading to opposing views from different parties.
Natural vs Human Causes
The decay of plant and animal matter produces carbon dioxide, but this natural process is also dealt with naturally through photosynthesis. This cycle keeps carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere fairly stable.
While natural processes creating carbon dioxide are not really a threat to the environment, human activities, like burning of fossil fuels, are hastening global warming. Along with deforestation, these activities have increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by a huge percentage. For example, production of fossil fuels, landfills and livestock emits methane, and industrial and agricultural activities that use fertilizers produce nitrous oxide. Though there is just a small volume of these gases, they have much greater effect per pound on the planet’s temperature than carbon dioxide because they are more potent.
Also, humans have created greenhouse gases that do not occur in nature, including sulfur hexafluoride, perfluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons, which are released from industrial processes.
Effects of Global Warming
It is no doubt that The Earth’s atmosphere is getting warmer, but its consequences have remained an issue of great uncertainty and debate. Researchers predict dramatic and serious problems for generations in the future. For instance, the phenomenon is expected to affect climate patterns—rising temperatures causing heat waves, wild fires and droughts and warmer oceans creating more frequent and stronger hurricanes. Ice caps and glaciers would also melt causing sea levels to rise.
While many researchers focus on the natural disasters global warming could bring, others suggest it will have a major impact on habitats, where some regions suitable for farming might become too wet or dry to support agriculture. This means the phenomenon can lead to extinction to plants and animals. For humans this can cause disruptions in the food supply, bringing about famine in the affected regions. Other experts also suggest that it can bring along an increase or spread of life-threatening infectious diseases, particularly those transmitted by mosquitoes, which are abundant during hot weather.
Countries Having Difficulty with Agreeing on a Climate-Change Global Plan
Due to economic and political issues involved in addressing climate change, nations around the world are having difficulties on agreeing on a global plan for it.
One difficulty is in the scientific aspect. It is stated that actions taken to address global warming can have complicated effects on the environment. For example, though the increase of greenhouse gases is seen as the immediate effect of cutting down trees, there are other complex results, such as carbon dioxide production from the logging slashes, which also produces methane if left to decay. Take note that these debris can simply be disposed of, but such method can also cause problems by eliminating animal habitats.
On the political side, it focuses on the amount of contribution of every country to global warming; the wealthier the country is, the bigger the amount of greenhouse gases it contributes to the environment. By some measurements, the US alone produces a forth of the world’s greenhouse gases. Thus, it is argued that industrial nations should take responsibility for reducing emissions, but their leaders have been very resistant to this idea. This is why conferences held to replace the Kyoto Protocol are failing to yield an international agreement.
Myth vs Truth
There was a trend where proponents and critics stood their grounds whether global warming is true or a myth. During the 20th century, the Earth warmed 0.6 degrees Celsius, but the warming was prevented and even dropped in a single year to 0.63 degrees Celsius in 2007. Though a single year of reversal will not constitute a trend reversal, the magnitude of the drop, which equates to 100 years of warming, was seen as noteworthy. This sparked the idea of critics why the issue of global was sold to the public. However, the atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased in the other direction, increasing 15% to 20% in the same period.
These diverse phenomena had casted doubt on how valid the greenhouse hypothesis is, but these have not discouraged advocates of global warming. Critics have long been ignoring evidence that greenhouse warming is also due to the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Carbon Output Is Too Tiny
Though global warming is seen to be commonly caused by human activities, it is found that such contribution of mankind is just minuscule. According to findings, the overwhelming majority of carbon dioxide on the planet’s atmosphere (about 97%) is coming from nature, and not from man. It is important to note that fallen leaves, rice paddles, swamps, volcanoes and even insects and bacteria produce carbon dioxide, not to mention these also produce methane.
Experts say that human contribution is definitely overshadowed by far-larger natural sources of carbon dioxide. So, how much could be regulating our carbon emissions (which is just a tiny remainder of 3%) do in preventing global warming?
Benefits of Global Warming
Of course, global warming has attracted many negative concerns with regards to environmental degradation—food shortages, spread of diseases, violent weather, etc. However, there are also benefits to it, including the following:
1. Fact is, agricultural productivity is not solely decreased by overly hot weather, but also cold weather. It is worth noting that a warmer climate allows for longer growing seasons.
2. It is useful to our body, which requires heat to function properly. On the other hand, there are more people dying from cold than from heat.
However, global warming are unfazed by these contrary evidence, despite many claims of disasters due to global warming have been already debunked. Based on the information on this article and other facts, are you an advocate or a critic of global warming. By doing more research, you can come up with a well-informed conclusion.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.