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Global Warming (Research Paper Sample)


instructions: explore the issue of global warming and provide images if necessary sample: This paper provides a look at the background of the global warming issue, its causes and suggests some mitigation strategies that could be implemented.

Global Warming
Over the last 3000 years, the temperature of the earth has changed within a range of 3% (Robinson, Robinson and Soon 79). The temperature continues to increase as the Earth recovers from the Little Ice Age, a period when winters were severe, and the earth experiences very low temperatures between the 6th and 19th centuries. Global warming in recent times has been signaled by the shortened world glaciers. The temperature of the atmosphere is regulated by two things, the fluctuating activity of the sun and the greenhouse effect. Among these two, the greenhouse effect has been significantly influenced by human activity, especially that related to Carbon emissions. The extent of the greenhouse effect, largely caused by water vapor, Carbon Dioxide (CO2), and Methane gas (CH4) (greenhouse gases) in the atmosphere can be reduced through reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The finding that there has been a six-fold increase in the use of hydrocarbons and CO2 emissions underpins this thinking. This paper provides a look at the background of the global warming issue, its causes and suggests some mitigation strategies that could be implemented.
The climate of the Earth has changed throughout history. In just the last 650,000 years, seven cycles involving the advance and retreat of glaciers have occurs, with the last ice age happening over 7000 years ago. The end of this age marked the start of the modern climate era as well as that of human civilization. These climate changes have been attributed to minor variations in the earth’s orbit that change the solar energy received by the earth. The current global warming trend is significant because it is proceeding at an unprecedented rate over the last 1,300 years. Satellites that orbit the earth and other technological tools have enabled scientists to collect a wide range of information. The "heat-trapping" nature of carbon dioxide and other gases was demonstrated for the first time in the mid-19th century. The ability of these gases to affect the movement of infrared energy through the atmosphere has long since been the scientific basis of many studies by NASA. Ice cores from Greenland, Antarctica, as well as tropical mountain glaciers, show that the earth’s climate is responding to changes in the levels of greenhouse gases. In the past, there have been quick considerable changes in the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere in tens of years and not even in millions or years or thousands.
Evidence of climate changes driven by global warming
There is extensive evidence on climate change. The rise of sea levels is one of the most popular indicators of global warming-driven climate change. In the last century, the global sea level has risen by 17 centimeters. This rate represents a doubling of that of the last century.
Figure 1: Evidence of global warming (Source: (Dechert and Dechert (1))
Even in two decades, satellite data shows that the global sea level has risen considerably (see figure 1). Another indicator is global temperature rise. Since 1980, the earth has warmed considerably. The third indicator is warming oceans. The oceans have absorbed the increased heat, with the 700m closest to the surface having an increment of 0.302 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969. Shrinking ice sheets, declining sea ice in the Arctic, glacial retreat, ocean acidification, and decreased snow cover are also indicators of climate change due to global warming.
Causes of Global Warming
There are various causes of global warming such as greenhouse gas emissions, and heat effects. Scientists have spent several decades trying to figure out the cause of global warming. Their researches have involved looking at natural cycles and events that influence climate. However, the patterns of global warming that have been measured cannot be explained by natural factors alone. Scientists have touted the effect of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by humans as a major contributor to global warming. There are several gases that may be termed as greenhouse gases. These include Carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Water vapor and Nitrous oxide. These gases also vary in their potency. For example, a methane molecule produces more than twenty times the global warming of a CO2 molecule.
Greenhouse gases are so called because they cause an effect that may be likened to that occurring in a greenhouse. Solar radiation from the sun is released to the Earth in short wavelength, enabling it to pass through the atmospheric gases effectively. However, when the solar radiation hits the Earth’s surface, it is reflected the atmosphere in long wavelength, which cannot penetrate some of the gases such as water vapor, CO2 and CH4 (the GHGs) present in the atmosphere. Consequently, warming results in the lower atmosphere of the earth. The rate of warming depends on the amount of radiation that can escape from the lower atmosphere. The concentration of GHGs in turn influences this rate of escape. When these GHGs are emitted through man-made processes, one can say that human activity contributes to global warming. There are various human activities that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.
Industrialization is the series of social and economic changes that transform a human group from a predominantly agrarian society to an industrial one, involving reorganizing an economy with the intention of manufacturing. Industrialization processes such as transport, manufacturing and deforestation contribute significantly to global warming. Manufacturing and transport often involve emission of GHGs by machines. Refrigeration and the use of steam for heating in factories also lead to the emission of GHGs. Also, deforestation contributes to the emission of carbon. When trees are felled, they release the carbon present in them to the atmosphere.
Urbanization is the increase in urban populations as they move from rural areas looking for job opportunities and livelihoods. Urbanization contributes to global warming in various ways. For example, when people place a lot of strain on urban resources, there is likely to be high pollution of the air with GHGs. The presence of carbon waste such as in landfills also contributes to the presence of methane gas, one of the most potent GHGs in the atmosphere. Urban methods of cooking, heating, etc. lead to emissions that contribute to the greenhouse effect.
Government Regulation
Week (2) proposes strict legislation as well as government action as the major strategies that should be taken to reduce global warming. This strategy can be implemented by imposing cuts on emission from factories and plants as well as other sources. Taxation of carbon-based fuels should be implemented as a government-led legislation. The government should also impose tax waivers as incentives for companies that reduce their emissions to a given degree. Companies that embrace green power solutions should also gain tax waivers.
Green strategies
Companies should adopt green strategies and technologies to reduce emissions. For example, companies can reduce emissions through smart solutions in their transport and logistics (Sustainability Watch 1). Transport and logistics constitute 75% of the carbon footprint attributable to the average company. The first step for the individual company should be gathering a clear understanding of its carbon footprint. The company should then take measures to reduce it. For example, a company may choose to use quicker transport routes, use cleaner transport means, and use vehicles with the least emissions such as hybrid ones.
Green energy
Green energy sources are beginning to come to the fore today. Examples are wind, solar, and tidal energy. Companies should adopt greener energy sources to reduce the emissions associated with traditional fuels such as fossil fuels (petroleum, coal, natural gas, etc.).
The recommendations for the reduction of global warming are two-fold: Government and non-governmental institutions. The first recommendation is government-led legislation. This legislation will impose taxes on companies with emissions past a given thr...
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