FOSSIL FUEL AND GLOBAL WARMING KEEPING THE EARTH IN AGONY: WILL HUMANS GO EXTINCT BECAUSE OF IT?

Climate change is a critical concern

Like a mother, nature gives us the right things in the proper amounts. Earth’s living conditions are favorable and beneficial to our survival and growth. However, these life-sustaining ingredients are so precisely constructed that any human or other action can throw things off balance. Our existence will be jeopardized if the environment radically shifts. Climate change is now a reality. Climate change poses a possible hazard to life all across the world. The Arctic ice has begun to melt, and sea levels are rising. More powerful hurricanes are bearing down on our shores.

Warmer temperatures have led to more intense rainfall in some areas. This can cause flooding. Higher temperatures cause droughts in some areas of the world, causing a decline in crop productivity. This may lead to a food shortage.

Heat waves have become common today. More living species are endangered because of the increasing heat. Soon, global warming will threaten our very existence.

Global Warming

Heat in the summer can be troublesome. We resort to fans or air conditioners to cool us down. However, when the season changes, we often forget about the inconvenience caused by heat. Our planet, however, is facing a far larger problem. The fact that our planet is slowly heating up over the years has been ringing alarm bells in the science fraternity for a long time now.

The process of the earth’s warming and rise in temperature is known as global warming. This happens when there is an increase in the production of gases like carbon dioxide, water vapor, nitrous oxide, and methane, which are known as greenhouse gases. These greenhouse gases trap heat and light from the sun in the Earth’s atmosphere. This trapped heat, in turn, increases the temperature and causes global warming.

It is a matter of great concern that since the beginning of the 20th century, the average temperature of the earth has risen by 0.8 degrees Celsius.

Global warming hurts people, animals, and plants. Many organisms cannot take the change, and therefore, they die out.

First Signs of Global Warming

Today, scientists are all ears to nature because they can warn them in time. The first signs of global warming are seen near the surface of the earth and in the upper atmosphere. The ten indicators of climate change include measurements of sea level rise taken from ships, the temperature of the upper atmosphere taken from weather balloons, and field surveys of melting glaciers.

Antarctica appears to be getting warmer. Even a change of half a degree Celsius in temperature can have disastrous effects. Over the last 50 years, average temperatures on the continent have increased by 2.5 degrees Celsius. In 1995, a gigantic glacier broke off and floated out to sea. This incident was a revelation to scientists across the globe. Such incidents are indications that global warming is happening.

Causes of global warming

A major natural cause of global warming is the release of methane gas from the Arctic tundra and wetlands. These gases can trap heat in the atmosphere. Another important natural cause is Earth’s normal inclination towards auto-generated climate change. The earth goes through a cycle of climate change, which usually lasts about 40,000 years.

However, man-made causes probably do the most damage. Pollution is one of the biggest man-made problems. Burning fossil fuels is an important cause of pollution. The increased rate of deforestation also contributes to global warming.

The steady increase in population leads to the warming of the globe. More people means more food and more methods of transportation increase the use of fossil fuels and, thus, pollution. Animals like cows emit a lot of methane into the air, while many fertilizers also increase the amount of nitrous oxide in the air.

Role of Fossil Fuels in Global Warming

Many factors contribute to global warming. While there are natural causes for this phenomenon, man has been instrumental in accelerating its pace. One of man’s many harmful interferences in the affairs of nature is his use of fossil fuels.

We use fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas because they are the cheapest sources of energy available. However, they are also an important cause of global warming. Fossil fuels are formed when organic matter under the surface of the earth decomposes over millions of years. When these fossil fuels are burned for energy, they release a large quantity of carbon dioxide into the air. The presence of carbon dioxide in the air keeps the earth warmer. This is because it traps the heat obtained from sunlight and does not let it go beyond the atmosphere.

The heat in the atmosphere captured by carbon dioxide will rise proportionately as the percentage of the compound in the air rises significantly. This, in turn, leads to an overall rise in the surface temperature of the earth.

There is no doubt that we depend too much on fossil fuels, which release deadly amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We need to start considering alternative sources of energy quickly. It is high time we think of other options such as nuclear, solar, and wind energy.

Deforestation and Global Warming

About 30 percent of the world’s land area is covered by forests. However, they are being cut down at an alarming rate, and this is called deforestation. The felling of trees deprives the forest of portions of the canopy that block the sun’s rays during the day and hold in heat at night. These disruptions lead to more extreme temperature swings that can be harmful to plants and animals.

Trees also help maintain the water cycle by returning water vapor into the atmosphere. If there are not enough trees to play this role, many forestlands can quickly turn into barren deserts. Trees also play a critical role in absorbing carbon dioxide. Since more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will increase the speed and severity of global warming, forests are playing a vital role in preserving life on Earth.

Rise in Sea Levels

The most apparent effect of this phenomenon is in the oceans. Global warming will result in higher temperatures, and in turn, higher temperatures will make the water levels of the seas and oceans rise. Ice melting in the Antarctic and Greenland will flow into the sea. Higher sea levels will threaten low-lying coastal areas of the world, such as the Netherlands and Bangladesh. Throughout the world, millions of people and huge areas of land will be in danger from flooding.

Many people will have to leave their homes. Large areas of farmland will be ruined because of floods. All over the world, sea levels may rise, perhaps by as much as 20 to 40 centimeters, by the beginning of the next century. Therefore, unless we act now to stop global warming, rising sea levels can pose a real threat to humanity.

How global warming affects

Global warming affects humanity in diverse ways. It will result in a temperature rise, which in turn will cause the polar ice caps to melt. The melting of the ice caps will result in the rise of sea levels, and eventually, the temperature of the ocean will increase. As the temperature of the oceans rises, many different species of animals will become endangered. Hurricanes will become more frequent and stronger due to the warmer water. These weather changes can have serious effects on the human race and destroy many lives.

Also, the increase in temperature can cause an increase in disease-carrying insects. Around the world, places will become either wetter or drier due to global warming. There will be more droughts, which will lead to famine and starvation. Wetter regions can experience floods, which also destroy life and property. Thus, global warming can indeed be disastrous for the human race.

Global warming can have a disastrous impact on agricultural yields. The majority of the world’s one billion poor people depend on agriculture for their livelihood. As mentioned earlier, agriculture, unfortunately, is the human enterprise most vulnerable to changes in climate. Studies have shown that southern Africa is especially at risk because higher temperatures and drops in rainfall could cut yields of the main crops people grow there. Droughts or floods have already affected harvests in Russia, Germany, Canada, Argentina, Australia, and Pakistan. It is estimated that half the world’s population will face serious food shortages this century because of global warming.

Global warming

Whales and dolphins are at risk because of global warming. Those animals that rely on polar waters, such as belugas, narwhals, and bowhead whales, are likely to be affected by the reduction of sea ice. Less sea ice will allow more commercial shipping, oil, gas, and mining exploration and development, and military activities in previously untouched areas. This will hit nature adversely. The oceans will absorb more carbon dioxide and become more acidic. This means there will be more cetacean disease epidemics and lower reproductive success and survival rates. Climate change could also mean the end of the 300 or so endangered North Atlantic right whales, as it is affecting their food sources. River dolphins will also suffer from habitat loss.

The very existence of polar bears is also threatened because of climate change. Fondly called the white giants of the Arctic, these glorious animals spend much of their lives in, around, or on the water, predominantly on sea ice. However, it is a sad fact that sea ice in the Arctic is melting earlier and forming later each year because of global warming. This means that polar bears are left with less time on the ice to hunt for food, mainly seals, and build up their fat stores for survival in the cold. As their ice habitat shrinks, skinnier and hungrier polar bears could become extinct by the end of this century. This would be a tragedy because polar bears help us gain an understanding of what is happening throughout the Arctic region. If polar bears are at risk, it may also be an indication that something is wrong with the entire Arctic marine ecosystem.


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