Global warming is a natural process to keep the planet warm so the life can exist but in the past hundreds, year human has altered this natural process with its huge emissions of greenhouse gases, especially CO2 to the atmosphere.
This human-made emissions trap the heat from the sun, this is the main reason for the increase of average temperature in the global. If this increase continues at its rapid rate the consequences will be worsening. Due to the atmosphere is warmer now, the climate is changing and the planet is facing extreme weather all around. Flash flooding, heat waves, wildfires, dust storms and pest invasions, severe droughts, melting glaciers, higher levels of air pollution and diseases outbreaks are some of the effects linked to global warming.
Also, Alteration of habitats such as coral reefs and Alpine meadows could drive many plant and animal species to extinction. Governments off all parts of the world are working together to implement measurements to minimize greenhouse emissions and stop this rapid rate temperature increasing and, in that way, avoid more damage to our planet. Planet earth has faced various episodes of global warming in the course of its history. Global Warming is a rapidly increasing change in the average temperature on the atmosphere of Earth, this rapid intensification is the root that causes most of the changes in global climate. The main cause of this is the greenhouse effect that happens naturally to warm the planet so life can exist. Greenhouse gases like CO2, water vapors, ozone and many other substances trap the heat at the atmosphere naturally but the human has altered this natural process by burning fossil fuels to produce Energy, three-fourths of the human emissions come from this cause. China is the number one heat trapping pollution generator; this country produces around 28 percent of all CO2 emissions. The United States of America is the second with a generation of 16 percent.
This country produces an average of 2 billion tons of CO2 per year burning fossils fuels to generate electricity, this is the biggest heat trapping pollution source in this country. The second one generating around 1.7 billion tons of CO2 is the transportation sector. Global warming has been the theme of discussion on the past years, especially by scientific and politicians. Their debate is on what are the effects on our planet when the temperature increases.
The rapid increase of the average temperature on the atmosphere is causing a shift in climate zones, rainfall patterns and thermal expansion of oceans, this represents more frequent and severe weather. Higher temperatures are worsening many types of disasters like wildfires, for example in 1991 on Oakland a wildfire consume 1,520 acres including more than 3,500 structures. This wildfire cost the US government an estimated 1.5 billion dollars in damages. In 2004 in Alaska the Taylor complex fire was the largest wildfire recorded since 1997 which ended with 6.5 million acres of burned forest, the highest total in US history. 2017 the State of California faced one of the most destructive fire season in the last decade.
These fires raced across the state caused historic levels of death and destructions. 9,000 wildfires tore through the state burning 1.2 million acres of land destroying more than 10,800 structures and killing at least 46 people. In resume wildfires have consumed millions of acres, reclaimed thousands of lives and cost billions of dollars to the government of United States of America. Another global warming effect are the heat waves. Dry areas become drier resulting in dust storms, heat waves and lack of water that is a leading cause of death and disease around the world.
The European heat wave of 2003 caused the death of at least forty thousand people in what the Scientific consider their hottest summer. 2017 in the US was marked as one of the hottest year in history. The multi day nature of heat waves has been adding to its dangerous nature. Prolonged heat waves are hazardous as there is less opportunity for people to cool down.
During June 17 to 25th the state of Las Vegas, NV saw 9 consecutive days of 110 readings, tying the record set in 1961. Heat waves have caused thousands of deaths in the lasts decades around the world. Warmer atmosphere increase the formation of dust storms. Dust storms brings dirtier air causing higher death rates for asthmatics.
It deteriorates the health of people suffering pulmonary disease and also significantly increase airborne pollen, which is bad news for those who suffer from hay allergies. Heavier rains have been registered in different part of the World. Heavy rains cause rivers, and lakes to overflow, which damages life and property, contaminates drinking water, creates hazardous-material spills and promotes mold infestation. A rainier world is also a boon for food-borne and waterborne illnesses and disease-carrying insects such as mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks. In the decade of 2010 in Pakistan, there was registered the world’s second worst floods according to the Belgium Centre for Research of Epidemiology of Disasters. At least 1,200 people died making this amount a very high number for this natural event which is one of the easier disasters to predict and plan for. One of the worst floods, in terms of fatalities was registered in Haiti 2004 where floods killed more than 2,500 people.
Air pollution occurs when harmful substances are introduced into Earth atmosphere. Generally, any substance introduced into the atmosphere that has damaging effects on living things and the environment is considered air pollution. Pollution from cars, factories and other sources react to sunlight heat increasing the ground-level of ozone. A higher ground level of ozone can affect people’s health and can damage vegetation and animal life. Other few effects of air pollution are: Acidification and Eutrophication. Acidification is a chemical reaction that creates acidic compounds that can cause harm to vegetation and structures.
Eutrophication is when rain carry and deposit Nitrogen in some pollutants on rivers and soils affecting the nutrients of the soil and water bodies. Coral reefs harbor the highest concentration of marine biodiversity is now facing serious threat due to global warming. The ocean is facing an increasing sea surface temperature and acidification. This is reducing the ability of corals to build skeletons causing mass coral bleaching and mortality. When sea level temperature rise for a prolonged time obligates corals to spell their symbiotic food- producing algae, this process is known as bleaching causing the death of Coral. When coral is dying turns white and it’s difficult to recover from that. Disappearance of coral reef can cause the extinction of many of a broad range of species. Many coral reefs have been reduced to nothing leaving fish without food and shelter.
In some places fish diversity have been reduced to the half. The rising of sea levels is another impact caused by the melting of the world ice sheets. When temperature raise and ice melts more water flows to the seas causing ocean water expansion. About 134 billion metric tons of ice is lost in Antarctica per year since 2002 causing sea levels to rise. This effect can be worsening if we keep burning fossil fuels and generating heat trapping pollution.
This combination of effects has caused the raising average of global sea level between four to eight inches in the past hundred years and causing sea levels to rise several meter over the next hundred years. The coastal systems and low-lying areas are being threatened, including entire islands and the world’s largest cities, including New York, Los Angeles, and Miami. The scenarios are disturbing even in wealthy countries like Netherland, which nearly has half of its landmass at or below the sea level. Bruce Douglas, a coastal researcher at Florida International University calculates that every inch of sea level rise could result in eight feet horizontal retreat of sandy beach shorelines.
Not only the melting of the ice sheets is the only cause of the rising seas, the human engineering worsen this effects.Ice melting is compromising the stability of the actives volcanos that are ice-covered. Tornadoes, typhoons, hurricanes and mid-latitude storms are strongly connected with the climate change.
The increase of the sea level and temperatures is affecting the frequency, duration and intensity of Hurricanes in the Atlantic. During the last year, we experienced three massive hurricanes being one of them, the largest and strongest in the history of the US. Harvey a category 4 hurricane has been catalogued one of the most destructive Hurricane in US. Destroyed one of the largest cities of Texas, causing damages of approximately one hundred and eighty billions of dollars and killed at least eighty-two people, today they are still recovering.
A category 5 hurricane named Irma destroyed some of the Virgin Island leaving one of them completely inhabited. Florida and Puerto Rico were also affected by this phenomenon. Puerto Rico faced one of the strongest Hurricane in their history. Maria changed the lives of all Puerto Ricans on September 20 of 2017 when entered the Island as a category 5 and then decreasing its intensity to a category 4.
The whole Island was left in dark, without water and many people lost everything. Approximately 50 people were killed by this Hurricane. The devastation cost is estimated in billions of dollars, more than fifty percent still without electricity and has caused the major migration of Puerto Ricans to the US. Scientifics estimates that the next Hurricane Season will be more active than the last one. Typhoons are also connected with earthquakes as they reduce the atmospheric pressure enough to allow earthquake faults deep within the crust to move more easily and release accumulated strain.
In a piece of research published in the journal Nature in 2009 by Chi-Ching Liu of the Institute of Earth Sciences at Taipei’s Academia Sinica they proposed that storms might act as safety valves, repeatedly short-circuiting the buildup of dangerous levels of strain that otherwise could eventually initiate large, destructive earthquakes. Climate change carriages a threat to the control of pest and disease invasions. These include insects, plant diseases and invasive weeds. New pest and diseases may invade uninhabitable areas. A warmer atmosphere favor’s and accelerate migration or expansion of pest from warmer areas, this can represent great damage to plants in their new habitat. In their native regions, pest species are kept under control by predators and other ecosystems.
However, if the invaders do not have natural predators they could become a serious threat toward host plants species and can cause changes in the ecosystem elevating the risk of extinction of many species. Milder winter can increase the survival of many frost-sensitive insects and increasing temperatures also allow for higher rates of growth and reproduction in insect herbivores. On the other hand, warmer temperatures can allow insects to reach their minimum flight temperature sooner causing faster insect growth and movement. This insect’s invasion can bring new diseases. An increase in severe weather such as hurricanes may also cause the spread of crop diseases. Crop diseases can be animal, fungal, bacterial or viral. The spread of crop diseases cause the reduction of the production and quality of food.
Climate change is expected to increase the range of many weed species with new weed species entering communities. The effects of climate change on weed/plant interactions will vary by region and crop type. As the geographic distribution of weed species changes, so will the community composition, challenging the opportunities for invasion control. If the invasion of a new species can be detected, efforts can be made in order to prevent and control their establishment. Alpine meadows have been replaced with warm loving plants as result of the climate change, some Scientific’s think that in the next few decades alpine meadows can disappear. A group of biologists from 13 different countries in Europe analyzed 867 vegetation samples from 60 different sited in all major European mountain systems, first in 2001 and in 2008. They found strong indications that cold loving plants, traditionally found in alpine regions are being pushed out of many habitats by warm-loving plants.
This study confirmed that there is a direct link between warmer temperature and the shift in alpine plant composition. US has started to work in different initiatives in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change. In 2015 the US Environmental Protection Agency pledge to reduce carbon pollution from the power plants by almost a third by 2030. The US Department of Transportation proposed carbon pollution and fuel economy standards that should reduce emissions through the 2020s. Chemicals used in air conditioners are being phased out of production nationwide and so are some household items like incandescent lightbulbs. In 2015, solar and wind power provided more than 5 percent of the US’s electricity and the first offshore wind power project was started.
More can be done if they work together with other countries.