Global Warming: Causes & Effects
Global warming is the increase in temperature in Earth’s atmosphere caused due to the release of higher levels of greenhouse gases – chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), carbon dioxide and other pollutants.
The average global temperature has increased rapidly over the past 50 years than in the last 650,000 years. Of the 16 hottest years in NASA’s 134-year record, 15 have occurred since the year 2000.
This over-heating of the Earth’s atmosphere is changing the weather patterns that vary from one place to another. As the Earth spins around itself daily, this heat also swirls together with the Earth picking up the moisture over the oceans and is severely changing the climate rhythm on which we all depend. Human activities are the considered the major cause for this drastic climate change.
What is causing global warming?
The main cause is the greenhouse effect – it is the warming caused as a result of the atmosphere trapping the heat that is radiating from the Earth towards the space.
Sunlight passes through the atmosphere and warms the surface of the Earth. This warmth (or heat) is radiated back towards the space. But, most of this heat is absorbed by the greenhouse gas molecules and is re-emitted in all directions warming the Earth’s lower atmosphere.
Actually, greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are actually good for the planet. They warm the Earth’s surface to a life-supporting average of 59° Fahrenheit (15° Celcius). Without the greenhouse gases, the Earth’s temperature would be 50° F colder than what is today and the average global temperature would be around 5° F – which is less hospitable for life on Earth.
But, in this case, too much of a good thing is not good. There is a continuous increase in the temperature with the increase of gases in the atmosphere which contribute to the greenhouse effect. These gases include: Water vapor, Carbon dioxide, Methane, Nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
Human activities like increase in burning the fossil fuels, and the clearing of forests for trade, agriculture, industry and other activities have increased the concentration of natural greenhouse.
What are the consequences of global warming?
Warmer conditions in the atmosphere will lead to high precipitation and evaporation making some regions wetter and some hotter.
The Earth becomes warmer and this will also warm the oceans and cause the glaciers and other ice to melt. This will again increase sea level. Rising sea levels will occupy more land.
When it comes to global warming and greenhouse effect, we lack definitive knowledge of the future. In such a case, we all should prepare ourselves for a worst-case scenario and begin our efforts by understanding existing science behind the changes and do our best to reduce the greenhouse effect.