Global warming results from an increase in the temperature of the atmosphere of the earth and is slowly becoming an international catastrophe. Though global warming is caused by a multiplicity of factors, the main causes are divided into two broad categories namely; man-made and natural factors. Some of the natural factors that cause global warming include a concentration of greenhouse gases such as nitrous oxide and methane which are emitted into the environment. After the gases have been emitted, the temperature of the earth augments once the heat of the sun has been trapped in the earth’s atmosphere. Another natural cause of global warming is the cycle of climate change, which the earth goes through that lasts for about 40,000years.
For a long time, the issue of global warming has been a subject of debate; with some people arguing that it is natural; while others believe that it is man-made and can be controlled. However, this essay will present my side of the issue arguing that global warming is largely a consequence of man-made factors.
Although global warming can result from natural causes, global warming significantly arises from man-made causes. The prime man-made cause of global warming is the increase of the earth’s population. When there are many people on earth, more food will be required; people will buy more cars, hence increasing the need for transportation. The presence of many cars means more pollution to the environment thus increasing the global warming process. Moreover, an increase in the population of people augments the problem because there will be more emission of carbon dioxide, which is disastrous to the environment. Since, human beings exhale carbon dioxide, an increase in population results in the increased amounts of carbon dioxide that will be emitted into the atmosphere, thus leading to global warming.
Man made activities have caused climate transformation and affected the coast regions. The intense precipitation and rise of the sea level make the coastal storms more damaging. The activities that take place on earth, however meaningful they are to the society have a cost implication to the lives of the generations that will come. The new weather patterns should be a warning to the inhabitants and more so the decision makers to make decisions that will safeguard the earth. Scientists believe that there could be a historic link between climate change and hurricanes.
According to the IPCC (1991), it is likely that the heavy rainfall related with hurricanes will become more severe. A changing climate results to changes in the occurrence, timing, intensity, extent , duration of intense weather and climate events, and can lead to unprecedented extreme weather and climate events, Emissions that emanate coal-fired power plants are the greatest contributors of global-warming and pollution. Scientists have therefore, recommended urgent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions to avoid consequences of climate change.
Global warming is believed to aggravate respiratory allergies for around 25 million Americans. According to Lomborg (2001), extreme allergies due to global warming will worsen unless action is taken to limit global warming pollution and train communities to accommodate changes to come.
Closely interrelated with the issue of the population, is the problem of deforestation, which is a process of cutting down trees without making any replacements. Recent statistics indicated that over 35 million of acres of trees are cut down annually. This act of degrading the environment by human beings leads to the release of about 35% of carbon dioxide that comes from burning of trees. We all know that trees are responsible for the conversion of carbon dioxide into oxygen. Therefore, cutting down of trees at an alarming rate without any replacements, leads to an increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, hence global warming.
Deforestation is a practice that has directly influenced the change in global climate. Human activities such as industrialization and agricultural activities have contributed to the growing need for deforestation especially in the developing countries. The tropical forests in developing countries are cleared to create land for agricultural expansion, to create pastureland, and for the development of infrastructure. The food and agricultural organization approximated the rate of occurrence of deforestation that was at 13 million hectares per year. Environmentalists explain that tropical deforestation is a chief cause of biodiversity loss. Deforestation also influences the global climate because it accounts for about 20% of the annual green house gas emissions.
In an effort to stabilize greenhouse emissions and protect the environment, Kyoto protocol was initiated. The Kyoto protocol is an international agreement that commits 37 industrialized countries to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions. These targets are met through the national measures of the Kyoto mechanism for stabilizing carbon emissions through emission trading, clean development mechanism and joint implementation. According to United Nations Organization (UNO) (2002), the developed countries are to reduce their total emissions by 5% from 2008-2012 when compared to 1990 levels. Developing countries contribute to the climate change mitigation by participating in the clean development mechanism. Through the Kyoto protocol, developed countries can generate emission offsets by supporting sustainable development such as discouraging deforestation in developing countries. This plan seeks to sequester carbon in forests. However, the Kyoto protocol has excluded forest conservation from its projects. However, there are plans to include forest conservation in the next commitment period of the protocol; this will help in reducing global emissions. The Kyoto protocol allows plantation projects such as afforestation and reforestation.
One of the chief causes of global warming is the vast quantity of carbon dioxide produced from the burning of fossil fuels, which comprises of organic matter such as oil and coal. Once the fossil fuels have been burnt to produce CO2 (carbon dioxide), the gases cause pollution to the environment thus leading to global warming. In addition to carbon dioxide, methane is another man-made gas that causes global warming. Although methane is a natural gas that is easily available, when people engage in the mining of oil and coal, they allow methane to escape from the ground. Research has also shown that methane is just as powerful as carbon dioxide in terms of trapping the heat in the environment
Climate is the average weather conditions of a place over a long period of time, preferably 30-35 years. On the other hand, a forest is a constantly changing environment that consists mainly of trees, but still supports other million of life forms such as wildlife, wild plants and microscopic animals. There are various types of forests including boreal forests, tropical rain forests, temperate rain forests and many more. Climate change is the change in the average weather patterns of a place. Global warming is brought about by excess gases in the air, which are the result of burning fossil fuels which creates a thick layer of gases in the atmosphere that causes more heat to be trapped in the earth’s surface. This effect of climate change on forests has increasingly become a matter of concern which needs to be addressed. This is because of the overall fact that forests make up a healthy environment. For example, they purify air, protect our soil, and prevent us from strong winds that would destroy our structures and also through many other ways. For this reason, I found this topic relevant since it addresses this matter of concern.
Generally, forests are immensely useful in our day to day lives. They have many benefits to the societies worldwide. Some of the benefits include: providing a habitat for wild animals, providing clean water, help in the purification of air, prevention of soil erosion and many other benefits to mention. Climate influences the structure and functioning of forests. Changes in the climate may cause adverse effects to the forests, for example it may lead to plant diseases, infections by pests. Changes in climate also cause an effect to the productivity of the forests which may be direct or indirect. As years go by, these effects may be adverse, and the benefits that people get from the forests may be cut short.
Climate change affects the growth and productivity of forests in that it increases the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which in turn increases the temperatures and changes the rate of precipitation. Increase in carbon dioxide is beneficial in that, it is an essential element for photosynthesis which is the process by which plants use sunlight for growth. In the availability of water and mineral salts, an increase in CO2 level hastens the growth. However, in the absence of these two, water and mineral salts, an increase in carbon dioxide level may not be effective. An increase in carbon dioxide level may also increase the amount of forest cover available in that it turns grassland into woodland and woodland into forests.
The increase of temperatures caused by global warming may make some species of trees extinct. The warming may also delay or hasten the growth rate of different tree species or even more, cause migration of some tree species to their area of adaptation like to the colder regions. The changes in temperatures may also make some tree species prone to diseases and infestation by pests.
Changes in climate may also cause drought seasons, which may significantly affect the availability of trees. Some trees can only survive in wet areas and thus in cases of drought, those trees may die off. Global warming may also cause excessive precipitation, which in turn may cause floods. Some trees, which are adapted to survive under drought conditions may be affected by this excess of water and may become extinct. This would also be the same case as the one of melting snow which causes excess flow of water. Drought conditions also raise a fire risk to forests since some trees offer fuel for the ignition of fire also due to availability of wood which is a fire agent. It also prevents trees from the manufacture of sap juice, which protects insects from infestation by pests. These pests make the trees die out.
Due to this change in climate, society activities are affected in many ways. For example, when drought seasons come along, the productivity of plants decreases hence reduces food production. Considering its effect also to forests, it affects the animal habitat and many species may become extinct due to destruction of their habitat. This affects societies in that it reduces tourist attraction, which in turn affects the level of foreign income in a given country.
Due to many trees dying off because of the adverse climatic changes, the level of fodder reduces. It affects animals depending on this, for example, cows and goats. Changes in climate also reduces peoples sources of energy in that when some trees become extinct, wood, which is used as a source of fuel, reduces in quantity hence greatly affecting people. When also the amount of tree cover reduces, the ground is more prone to soil erosion whish leads to destruction of property and structures. It may also lead to loss of soil fertility, which also affects country productivity.
On the other hand, this effect on forests also has some positive results: for example the growth of the amount of carbon dioxide due to the global warming leads to an increase in plant cover which means there’s a corresponding increase in food productivity. An increase in plant cover is also useful in that it attracts a lot of rain which is essential for plant growth. Considering how changes in climate reduce plant cover, it becomes obvious that more deserts are created which is crucial because they serve to attract tourists.
The continual use of chemical fertilizers in farming has also been linked to global warming. In the 20th century, most farmers have shifted from using animal manure and adopted farming methods that require the input of chemical fertilizers. However, the nitrogen rich fertilizers have affected the heat trapping capacity of plants, hence leading to excess fertilizers being run off into the oceans. Research has clearly demonstrated that, as opposed to carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides tend to have a higher heat trapping capacity thus leading to global warming. Besides, when the concentrated nitrates are exposed to the seas and oceans, it becomes detrimental to human health.