One question that every concerned world citizen is asking themselves is, What is global warming? In laymens terms, global warming refers to the heating up the earth which occurs because greenhouse gases trap light and heat from the sun. This trapped light and heat forms part of the atmosphere and it causes a rise in temperature that is hurting humans, plants, animals and indeed, the entire planet.
Understanding more about the greenhouse effect can help in answering the question what is global warming. This effect starts when temperatures rise due to the heat and light from the sun being trapped in the atmosphere surrounding our planet. Such a phenomenon can be likened to heat being trapped inside a car. On hot days, a car that is parked outdoors will start to heat up because light and heat gets into the car without finding a means to escape. This is also what happens when greenhouse gases heat up without being able to escape the earths atmosphere.
Trapped Heat and Light
However, all greenhouse effects are not bad because without a certain amount of greenhouse gases, the temperatures on this planet would reach freezing point and that would certainly be a detriment to most life forms. The trouble only starts when the greenhouse gases saturate the atmosphere causing a dangerous rise in temperatures. At this point the benefits are outweighed by the extreme amount of gases present. An over abundance of greenhouse gas emissions are one of the major causes of global warming.
Global Warming and the Oceans
Today, global warming is causing glaciers to melt which, in turn, causes a rise in sea levels. This higher water level is resulting in the submerging of low lying islands and shores around the globe. As this happens, humans, animals, and even plant life, in the affected areas are in placed in grave danger of losing their habitat. There is another worrying aspect to global warming as it affects the ocean waters. As the water heats up, ocean borne algae are being killed off. This in turn affects the entire marine food chain since algae is, itself, food for creatures at the beginning of that chain. Many ocean inhabitants will be deprived of their supply of food.
The Effects of Global Warming on Forests
Forests are also being destroyed as a result of chemicals polluting the atmosphere which causes a significant rise in temperature. As a result of this increase in heat, a greater numbers of forest fires occur. Forest leaves and debris are drying out and the slightest spark sets off devastating wildfires which are all but impossible to control. This in turn releases even more harmful chemicals into the atmosphere which further exacerbates the situation.
Fortunately, more and more people are becoming aware of what global warming is, and have begun to take steps to prevent further damage to the atmosphere. A small amount of effort on the part of a large number of people can have a significant impact.