Global warming is the rise in average global temperatures. The rise in global temperatures is occasioned by the emission of greenhouses gases such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, and nitrogen oxides. The gases are released from industrial process that combust fossil fuels such as diesel, coal, and petrol. Such processes include generation of electrical energy in thermal power stations, burning of coal in industrial boilers, and combustion of fossil fuels in internal combustion engines. When these greenhouse gases are emitted, they rise to upper levels of the atmosphere and form a layer that blankets the earth. This layer allows radiation from the sun to pass through it and reach the earth’s surface. Some of the radiation is reflected from the earth and back to the atmosphere. However, the radiation has low energy and large wavelengths than the direct radiation from the sun and hence it cannot penetrate the layer of greenhouse gases (Bily, 2006). As a result, radiation is deflected back to the earth’s surface leading to accumulation of heat in the atmosphere, hence global warming occurs. Global warming is a negative environmental phenomenon that results in melting of the polar ice, change in weather patterns, and endangerment of some animal species.
The earth depends on the energy from the sun for survival. The sun introduces energy to the lower rungs of the food chain, which is then assimilated and used by animals higher in the food chain. Also, to some extent, the greenhouse effect is essential for survival as it raises the global temperatures to a level that can support life on earth, about 15 degrees Celsius or 59 degrees Fahrenheit. However, uncontrolled presence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere leads to rise of temperatures beyond the desirable levels. Fossil fuels are the major source of greenhouse gases. The fuels are essentially hydrocarbons with long carbon chains; hence the high amounts of carbon. Combustion of the fuel breaks the hydrogen-carbon bonds and causes the oxidation of the released carbon to carbon dioxide (Miller, 2008). Other fuel impurities such as methane and hydrogen sulfide are also released when the fuel is combusted.
Apart from fossil fuels, there exist other sources of greenhouse gases. For example, methane is emitted from decomposing waste in landfills. Also, methane is produced as a byproduct of ruminant digestion and decomposition of livestock manure in biogas digesters or from manure treatment activities (Bily, 2006). The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere also increases due to deforestation, which reduces the vegetation cover that removes oxygen from the atmosphere.
Global warming has dire consequences. These include the melting of polar ice in the Arctic sea, Greenland, and the ice sheets in West Antarctica. The melting of polar ice leads to changes in sea water temperatures, which further alters the direction of ocean currents. Change in the direction of sea currents is accompanied by changes in weather patterns, such as rain and temperatures (Bradford, 2014). Also, melting of the polar ice endangers animals that live on ice habitats such as polar bears and Adélie penguins that face the danger of extinction due to accelerated decrease in amounts of polar ice (National Geographic, 2007). In addition, melting of polar ice leads to rise in sea levels, which can displace people living along coastal areas or in low lying regions.
Global warming can be remedied through the use of alternative forms of energy other than fossil fuels. This includes renewable forms of energy such as solar energy, wind power, geothermal and hydroelectric energy. Renewable energy exploits naturally occurring forms of energy whereby various technologies are used to convert this energy to electricity. For example, solar photovoltaic panels are used to convert electromagnetic radiation from sun to electricity while steam turbines are used to produce electricity from the steam generated by geothermal heat (Miller, 2008). Production of electricity from renewable energy forms reduces the use of fossil fuels and hence lower amounts of greenhouse gases that are emitted.
Global warming is caused by the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The gases allow radiation from the sun to penetrates and warm up the earth but traps reflected radiation from the sun. The trapped radiation leads to rise in global temperatures hence global warming. Global warming is associated with negative effects such as melting of the polar ice, change in weather patterns, and rise in sea levels. The main solution to global warming is the use of renewable energy such as solar energy, wind power, geothermal, and hydroelectricity. Renewable energy reduces the combustion of fossil fuels hence the amount of greenhouse emissions.
Bily, C. A. (2006). Global warming. San Diego: Greenhaven Press.
Miller, D. A. (2008). Global warming. Detroit: Greenhaven Press.
Bradford, A. (2014, December 17). Effects of Global Warming. Live Science. Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com/37057-global-warming-effects.html
National Geographic. (2007). Effects of Global Warming. Retrived from http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/gw-effects/