Global warming is a term used in describing the gradual increment in the average temperatures of the earth’s atmosphere and oceans. These changes are believed to be changing the climate of the earth permanently. However, there have been debates on whether global warming is a myth or fact considering that the scientists have not been able to validate the reasons for such warming trends despite their exhaustive efforts (Gore 122). With increased concern on environmental conservation, it is clear that global warming is a complex and emotionally charged issue; therefore, it is impossible to ignore it in the modern cultural and political climate. For the theorists, there is no consensus on global warming considering the inaccuracy of the climate models, unreliability of the temperature records, and citing that the climate of the earth has changed before.
According to the climate scientists, based on their data and facts, agree that the planet is warming. Even though many people view the global warming effects in a more substantial and rapidly occurring than the others do, the scientific consensus on the climate change associated with the occurrence of global warming is that there have been increments in the global average temperatures of the earth from 0.40C to 0.8oC within the last 100 years. Furthermore, scientists cite that there have been increased volumes of carbon dioxide and others greenhouse gases generated by different human activities through combustion of fossil fuels, clearing of the land, and agriculture. It is believed that human activities are the major sources of global warming which have occurred over the past 50 years (Groat, 2010). A study carried out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change revealed that the average global temperatures could rise from 1.40C to 5.80C by the year 2100.
Figure 1: data showing the hottest years have all been since 1998
Even though the theorists view global warming as a myth, the scientists on the other hand claim that the negative effects associated with global warming are evident. These effects include increment in the sea levels associated with the melting ice within the polar ice caps and increment in the occurrence and severity of the storms and severe weather events that have continued to affect many areas especially those around the oceans. Consider the changes in the sea levels; according to the theorists, the scientists keep banging on the manner in which warming of the atmosphere increases the level of the sea. Nonetheless, if that were the case, then it would be evident for people to see considering that, it has been countless decades since the scientists began predicting such changes. The global warming denialists cite that global warming stopped in 1998, which is not true. The warming trend continues. Understanding such would require the theorists and those claiming that it a myth to note the difference between weather and climate. Weather is short term while climate is long term; however, since global warming is a long term, the earth continues to warm.
Figure 2: chart showing the warming in the oceans has been occurring for quite some time
In the last 100 years, there has been increased human produced carbon dioxide that adds to the greenhouse gases. It is a fact that carbon dioxide levels have changed for different reasons not only through human activities as has been throughout the geologic period. Since the inception of industrial revolution, the amount of greenhouse gases have increased especially the amount of carbon dioxide that has increased by about 120 parts per million (ppm) mostly likely due to human caused emissions. In this century, the growth rate has been approximately 0.55% per year but there is not adequate evidence to support that carbon dioxide is the major cause of global warming. Scientists believe that carbon dioxide is the common greenhouse gas, which is a myth (Shah, 2015). The fact is that greenhouse gases only form approximately 3% of the atmosphere by volume and consist of different amount of gases such as water vapour and clouds (97%) and remaining gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, ozone, and nitrogen oxide of which carbon dioxide is the largest amount. Therefore, carbon dioxide only constitute about 0.04% of the atmosphere with the minor gases being effective agents of greenhouse agents compared to water vapour and clouds.
According to NASA Giddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), the global mean land-ocean temperatures change from 1880-2010 which is considered relative to the 1951-1980 mean. However, there are impacts associated with global warming. Most people could argue that warmer climate is better for each person. Increased greenhouse gases and effect has contributed to the overall warming of the earth’s climate leading to global warming. It is important to note that, although some places experience cooling or wetter weathers than others, the temperature of the earth could rise. According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), at the end of 1990s, the organization noted that it was the warmest decade in the last 1,000 years. Global warming has great impact on the natural systems. These changes are based on the instrumental temperature records. The rising sea levels and reduction in snow and ice are associated with global warming. The changes in the regional climate are expected to involve greater warming of the land especially within the northern latitudes.
The environment is highly sensitive to temperature changes; therefore, global warming has huge impact on the ecological systems. Melting of the ice has great impact on the terrestrial and aquatic organisms due to the rise in the sea levels. In addition, increased temperatures make water to expand and rise in levels making polar caps to melt. It is projected that by 2050, some countries would stop to exist, as they would submerge due to water levels. Furthermore, the rising seal levels would impact many coastlines and many lives across the coasts and rivers. Globally, there are no cities prepared for the climate effects. Even though increasing ocean acidification has not been able gain adequate mainstream within the media, the impacts are highly significant. As temperatures increase, water bodies loose moisture leading to concentration of minerals to form salty conditions, which is unfavourable to many aquatic and terrestrial environments. Besides, the presence of carbon dioxide dissolved in the ocean water increases acidity, which in turn results in the changes in chemistry. These changes contribute in disruption of plants and animals’ ability within the aquatic environments to make the shells and skeletons of calcium carbonate when dissolving the already formed shell.
Figure 3: Ocean Acidification Process
According to the scientists, oceans absorb excess carbon dioxide released by human activities, which for many years has assisted in cooling the planet as they act as carbon sinks. Most countries, especially the developing ones, depend on agricultural activities to drive their economies and ensure adequate sustainability of the populations. According to the United Nations, at least one in six countries face food shortages annually due to shortages in severe droughts that could be consider semi-permanent under global warming. In most parts of the world, drought and desertification continue to spread and intensify (Weart 97). With the current increasing global warming, various organisms are at the verge of extinction. Within the ecosystems, there is a great connection in the food chain; therefore, negative impact on a given organisms is likely to contribute in ecological imbalance.
Activities that impact the environment negatively are becoming the greatest concern globally. In addition, countries are ratifying agreements to control the level of greenhouse emissions and negative impacts associated with global warming. At both national and international levels, there are regulations that control various agents of global warming. Considering the sensitivity of the environment and negative effects associated with the impacts, the public are increasing becoming aware and advocating for better practices to save both the humans and animals from extinctions.
Gore, Al. An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It. Rodale P, 2006.
Groat, Chip. “Climate Change Myths: Sorting Fact from Fiction – The Great Energy Challenge Blog.” The Great Energy Challenge Blog, The Great Energy Challenge Blog, 21 Dec. 2010, energyblog.nationalgeographic.com/2010/12/21/climate-change-myth/. Accessed 7 Dec. 2016.
Shah, Anup. “Climate Change and Global Warming Introduction.” Social, Political, Economic and Environmental Issues That Affect Us All, Global Issues, 1 Feb. 2015, www.globalissues.org/article/233/climate-change-and-global-warming-introduction#WhataretheimpactsofGlobalWarming. Accessed 7 Dec. 2016.
Weart, Spencer R. The Discovery of Global Warming. Harvard UP, 2003.