The threat posed by global warming issues has taken the center stage among the various environmental issues that threaten the planet today. These include rising temperature, extreme weather conditions, melting glaciers, rising sea level, extinction of plant and animal species, and many more. Even though the evidence of global warming, such as the increase in the frequency of hurricanes and submerging of the coastal areas and tiny islands, is making global warming more and more obvious, several questions about it still remain unanswered.
Global Warming: An Overview
The term global warming refers to the rise in the average temperature of the planet, due to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere as a result of various natural and human activities. These greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, have the tendency to trap the Sun's heat in the Earth's atmosphere, in a phenomenon referred to as the greenhouse effect, and contribute to the problem of global warming.
The reports compiled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggest that the average temperature of the planet has increased by 1.8 degree Celsius over the last century, and continues to increase at an alarming rate. This rise in temperature is a matter of grave concern, as studies reveal that it is resulting in a series of adverse effects on the planet.
Causes Global Warming
The main causes of global warming can be broadly categorized into two groups - natural causes and anthropogenic causes (causes triggered by humans). The natural causes, such as the solar variation, feedback effect, natural release of the methane gas, volcanic eruptions etc, don't cause much harm to the planet. In fact, these natural causes play a crucial role in regulating the temperature of the planet, and absence of these would have resulted in freezing conditions on the planet, thus making it virtually impossible for the lifeforms to survive. The anthropogenic causes, on the other hand, include several human activities which result in accumulation of various green house gases in the atmosphere. These activities include pollution caused by vehicles and industries, methane release triggered by mining and cattle rearing, depletion of oxygen as a result of deforestation, etc.
Effects of Global Warming
Global warming is basically resulting in a series of domino effect on the planet, wherein one thing is leading a number of subsequent things, and the chain of event continues. For instance, enormous amount of freshwater is stored on the planet in the form of glaciers. When the glaciers at high altitude melt due to the rise in near-surface temperature, they cause flash floods in the vicinity, contribute to the sea level rise by flowing into the ocean, and deplete the store of fresh water on the planet, thus leaving us devoid of water to drink.
Species extinction is yet another problem that our planet is facing, and the extinction of the Golden toad, endemic to Costa Rica, is one of the best example of this phenomenon. On one hand, the oceans are continuously fed by the melting glaciers, and on the other, rising temperature heat the ocean water and makes it expand. As the water expands, it tends to encroach upon the land, thus resulting in a watery grave for low lying coastal areas and tiny islands. Incessant heating of water also triggers devastating hurricanes in the coastal regions.
With all these problems becoming more and more obvious, the entire world seems to have woken up from the deep slumber. Over the last decade or so, several countries have been trying their best to do their bit in fighting this menace. The European Union and Australia, for example, have banned the manufacturing or import of incandescent light bulbs, and replaced them with energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs, which save around 80 percent of energy. Such solutions are being implemented by various other nations across the world. If these efforts continue, we will be able to curb these problems associated with global warming to a significant extent - if not rout them totally.