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What is global warming, and how is it affecting the Earth and its inhabitants? Global Warming is sometimes referred to as the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is the absorption of energy radiated from the Earths surface by carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere, causing the atmosphere to become warmer. The greenhouse effect is what is causing the temperature on the Earth to rise, and creating many problems that will begin to occur in the coming decades. For the last 10, 000 years, the Earths climate has been extraordinarily beneficial to mankind. Humans have prospered tremendously well under a benign atmosphere, (Bates 28).
Today, however, major changes are taking place. People are conducting an inadvertent global experiment by changing the face of the entire planet. We are destroying the ozone layer, which allows life to exist on the Earths surface. All of these activities are unfavorably altering the composition of the biosphere and the Earths heat balance.
If we do not slow down our use of fossil fuels and stop destroying, the forests, the world could become hotter than it has been in the past million years. Average global temperatures have risen 1 degree Fahrenheit over the last century. If carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases continue to spill into the atmosphere, global temperatures could rise five to 10 degrees by the middle of the next century. The warning will be the greatest at the higher latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, with the largest temperature rises occurring in winter. Most areas will experience summertime highs well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. New temperature records will be set each year.
As a possible prelude to global warming, the decade of the 1980 s has had the six hottest years of the century (Erandson 18 - 22). Atmospheric disturbances brought on by the additional warming will produce more violent storms and larger death tolls. Some areas, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere, will dry out and a greater occurrence of lightning strikes will set massive forest fires. The charring of the Earth by natural and man-made forest fires will dump additional quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Changes in temperature and rainfall brought on by global warming will in turn change the composition of the forests. At the present rate of destruction, most of the rain forests will be gone by the middle of the next century.
This will allow man-made deserts to encroach on once lush areas. (Bassett 1 - 2). Evaporation rates will also increase and circulation patterns will change. Decreased rainfall in some areas will results in increased rainfall in others. In some regions, river flow will be reduced or stopped all together completely. Other areas will experience sudden downpours that create massive floods. The central portions of the continents, which normally experience occasional droughts, might become permanently dry wastelands.
Vast areas of once productive cropland could lose topsoil and become man-made deserts. Coastal regions, where half the human population lives, will feel the adverse effects of rising sea levels as the ice caps melt under rising ocean temperatures. If the present melting continues, the sea could rise as much as 6 feet by the middle of the next century (Bassett 1 - 2). Large tracks of coastal land would disappear, as would shallow barrier islands and coral reefs. Low-lying fertile deltas that support millions of people would vanish. Delicate wetlands, where many species of marine life hatch their young, would be reclaimed by the sea.
Vulnerable coastal cities would have to move farther inland or build protective walls against the angry sea, where a larger number of extremely dangerous hurricanes would prowl the ocean stretches. Forests and other wildlife habitats might not have enough time to adjust to the rapidly changing climate. The warming will rearrange entire biological communities and cause many species to become extinct. Weeds and pests could overrun much of the landscape. Since life controls the climate to some extent, it is uncertain what long-term effects a diminished biosphere will have on the world as a whole.
It is becoming more apparent, however, that as man continues to squander the Earths resources, the climate could change in such a way that it is no longer benevolent to mankind. The greenhouse effect and global warming both correspond with each other. The green house effect is recalled as incoming solar radiation that passes through the Earths atmosphere but prevents much of the outgoing infrared radiation from escaping into outer space. The global warming refers to a long term rise in the average temperature of the Earth. How do they correspond with each other? Simply, because without one, the other doesnt exist.
The natural greenhouse effect has kept the Earths average surface temperature around 33 degrees Celsius, warmer than it would be if there were no atmospheres. The natural gases in the greenhouse effect are water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO 2), ozone (O 3), as well as other trace gases. Life could not exist if there was no natural greenhouse effect. The reason for the natural greenhouse effect is so that all the creatures living on Earth can live and breathe.
We as inhabitants of this Earth must do our part in preserving it, or there wont be much left for our children to live on. Human activities are causing some greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide to build up in the atmosphere. Each time we burn gasoline, oil, coal, or even natural gas, more carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere (Erandson 34). By cutting down the forest trees, we allow air pollution to set in. This, therefore, causes many problems in addition to many others. Now that there are no trees to help filter out pollution, we are allowing more damage to the atmosphere causing global warming.
These certain gases that occur naturally in the atmosphere tend to trap the suns heat which is called global warming. By trapping in the suns heat, the Earth can be warmed up. Many of the Earths natural disasters, such as volcanic activity, and other factors, have caused our planets (Bates 23) atmosphere to become either colder or warmer. The global average temperature of the surface has increased by one degree Fahrenheit over the past century.
This indicates that this warming trend is due to human influences. In conclusion, if there was no greenhouse effect then there would be no global warming. The greenhouse effect causes the global warming to increase as well as humans and other creatures influence. There are many ways to help prevent and protect both. If people try to help out, then it would be a longer process to keep the ozone layer healthy longer. But, nothing will be done until us as humans start helping out.
The Hole in the Ozone Layer Discovery of the hole in the ozone layer showed that human activity has a major impact on Earth. The destruction of ozone in the stratosphere high above the planets surface has been brought about as the result of the widespread use of chemicals, which under normal conditions are chemically inert and harmless. Ozone occurs at all levels in the atmosphere, but most of it is found in the stratosphere, between about 15 - 50 kilometers above the Earths surface. Even there it occurs in minute concentrations, but it plays a very important role. Ozone absorbs harmful ultraviolet radiation which is produced by the Sun.
Ultraviolet radiation can damage cells of living things plants, animals and people. Whereas small doses result in nothing worse than sunburn, larger amounts may cause cataracts or skin cancer, and can affect the growth of plants. The breakdown of ozone has been caused by complex chemical reactions involving chlorine and bromine. The ozone is produced like this: O 2 (g) + UV radiation 2 O (g) O 2 (g) + O (g) O 3 (g) Decomposition: O 3 (g) + UV radiation O 2 (g) + O (g) O (g) + O (g) O 2 (g) Although small amounts of these elements occur naturally in the stratosphere for instance chlorine is produced by volcanic eruptions the major breakdown of ozone over the last twenty years has been caused by man-made chemicals.
Large amounts of gas called CFCs were produced this century for use in everyday appliances like fridges, aerosol spray cans, and fire extinguishers. At ground level, these compounds are chemically non-reactive. However they are carried on wind systems up into the high atmosphere, where the ozone layer is. Up here, CFCs can be broken up by the intense sunlight, releasing chlorine through this equation: CCl 3 F (g) + UV radiation CCl 2 F (g) + Cal (g) The hole in the ozone layer is formed over the Antarctic continent each spring.
During the dark Antarctic winter, the atmosphere becomes colder than anywhere else on Earth. Strong winds enclose the cold air above the Antarctic, allowing ice clouds to form. The ice crystals provide the sites where chlorine reacts with ozone when sunlight returns in the spring, and results in the ozone hole. In early summer, the ozone hole mixes with the rest of the stratosphere.
Over the past years, the concentrations of chlorine in the atmosphere have been steadily increasing, and more ozone has been destroyed. Ozone itself is a useful protective layer high above our heads, but in the cities is an irritating pollutant. The CFCs have other effects too. As well as contributing to the breakdown of ozone, CFCs are also very effective greenhouse gases, contributing to a gradual warming of the atmosphere. However, the possible change in climate resulting from increases in various greenhouse gases might actually make the stratosphere colder, not warmer. Even if we were able to reduce CFC emissions effectively, these lower temperatures could mean that ozone destruction would continue.
Governments of many countries agreed in 1987 to the Montreal Protocol in an effort to reduce the amount of CFCs being produced, and so protect the ozone layer. Since then, this agreement has been strengthened; more countries have signed it, and more substances included for control. As a result, the amount of chlorine and bromine in the atmosphere seems to be decreasing. With less chlorine in the atmosphere the ozone hole should become smaller, and eventually close up, but it is likely to take 20 - 30 years for this to happen.
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