The world continues to suffer from the effects of global warming, which is becoming more and more apparent today. In fact, since the year 2002, people have experienced some of the hottest years ever recorded. However, it seems that not everyone fully understands what global warming really is. Awareness will help people open their eyes to reality and know exactly whats at stake. The best place to start in understanding just how real the threat of global warming is would be to start with some basic definitions.
Global Warming Defined
In the simplest terms, global warming happens when the Earths temperature rises. Scientists define it as the tendency for the globe to warm over in a certain period of time. It is linked to the greenhouse effect, wherein greenhouse gases trap light and heat from the suns rays in the atmosphere. The Earths average temperature went up to 0.74 degrees Celsius in an assessment conducted in 2007, and although at first glance this may seem like a very small number, this in itself has caused many dire consequences.
How and Why It Happens
To better understand how and why global warming happens, it is necessary to be familiar with the composition of the Earths atmosphere. It is made up of 78% Nitrogen, 21% Oxygen, and about 1% water vapor and trace gases, including Carbon Dioxide, Nitrous Oxide, and Methane (greenhouse gases). They work by trapping heat during the day and partly radiating this back to space. However, with the Industrial Revolution, more and more greenhouse gases were created. Each year, the burning of fossil fuels alone (such as oil and coal) amounts to billions of tons of carbon dioxide, and when this is combined with other human activities, it is easy to see why global warming has worsened over the years.
Human Activities that Contribute to Global Warming
Although human activities are not the only activities to blame for global warming, they do contribute significantly to it. Industrial and agricultural practices that are largely to blame are the use of pesticides and fertilizers which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation. Land use changes constitute to roughly 15% of todays carbon dioxide emissions. In households, the use of refrigeration and air conditioning appliances also contribute to emissions of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC), which is also part of the greenhouse gases. Power plants, automobiles, and other motor-generated vehicles and equipment produce tropospheric ozone as well.
Global Warming Threats
A very important point that people need to understand is that the effects of global warming cannot be reversed, and these effects are increasing in number because human activities have increased the concentration of greenhouse gases. Carbon emissions are also rising at an alarming rate, and the rise in global temperature is expected to reach 4 degrees Celsius by the year 2100. Without sufficient and effective intervention, it can be expected that more water shortages, droughts, wildfires, and heat wave periods will take place which could result in the deaths of many living organisms.