WHAT CAUSES GLOBAL WARMING?
Carbon dioxide and other air pollution that is collecting in the atmosphere like a thickening blanket, trapping the sun’s heat and causing the planet to warm up. Coal-burning power plants are the largest U.S. source of carbon dioxide pollution – they produce 2.5 billion tons every year. Automobiles, the second largest source, create nearly 1.5 billion tons of CO2 annually.
Here’s the good news; technologies exist today to make cars that run cleaner and burn less gas, modernize power plants and generate electricity from nonpolluting sources, and curt our electricity use through energy efficiency. The challenge is to be sure these solutions are put to use.
Is the earth really getting hotter?
Yes! Although local temperatures fluctuate naturally, over the past 50 years the average global temperature has increased at the fasted rate in recorded history. And experts think the trend is accelerating: the 10 hottest years on record have all occurred since 1990. Scientists say that unless we curb global warming emissions, average U.S. temperatures could be 3 to 9 degrees higher by the end of the century.
Are warmer temperatures causing bad things to happen?
Global warming is already causing damage in many parts of the U.S. In 2002, Colorado, Arizona and Oregon endured their worst wildfire seasons ever. The same year, drought created severe dust storms in Montana, Colorado and Kansas, and floods caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damages in Texas, Montana and North Dakota. Since the early 1950s, snow accumulation has declined 60% and winter seasons have shortened in some areas of the Cascade Range in Oregon and Washington.
Of course, the impacts of global warming are not limited to the U.S. In 2003, extreme heat waves caused more than 20,000 deaths in Europe and more than 1,500 deaths in India. And in what scientists regard as an alarming sign of events to come, the area of the Arctic’s perennial polar ice cap is declining at the rate of 9% per decade.
Is global warming making hurricanes worse?
Global warming doesn’t create hurricanes, but it does make them stronger and more dangerous. Because the ocean is getting warmer, tropical storms can pick up more energy and become more powerful. So global warming could turn, say, a category 3 storm into a much more dangerous category 4 storm. In fact, scientists have found that the destructive potential of hurricanes has greatly increased along with ocean temperature over the past 35 years.
Is there really cause for serious concern?
Yes! Global warming is a complex phenomenon, and its full-scale impacts are hard to predict far in advance. But each year scientists learn more about how global warming is affecting the planet, and many agree that certain consequences are likely to occur if current trends continue. Among these:
- Melting glaciers, early snowmelt and severe droughts will cause more dramatic water shortages in the American West.
- Rising sea levels will lead to coastal flooding on the Eastern seaboard, in Florida, and in other areas, such as the Gulf of Mexico.
- Warmer sea surface temperatures will fuel more intense hurricanes in the southeastern Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
- Forests, farms and cities will face troublesome new pests and more mosquito-borne diseases.
- Disruption of habitats such as coral reefs and alpine meadows could drive many plant and animal species to extinction.
What country is the largest source of global warming pollution?
The United States. Though Americans make up just 4% of the world’s population, we produce 25% of the carbon dioxide pollution from fossil-fuel burning – by far the largest share of any country. In fact, the U.S. emits more carbon dioxide than China, India and Japan, combined. Clearly America ought to take a leadership role in solving the problem. And as the world’s top developer of new technologies, we are well positioned to do so – we already have the know-how.
How can we cut global warming pollution?
There are many simple steps we can take right now to cut global warming pollution. For example, we can cut global warming pollution by simply reducing pollution from vehicles and power plants. Right away, we should put existing technologies for building cleaner cars and more modern electricity generators into widespread use. We can increase our reliance on renewable energy sources such as wind, sun and geothermal. And we can manufacture more efficient appliances and conserve energy. Some of the important steps that can be adopted by informed and reasonable inhabitants of this unique planet may be summarized as under:
1. We should turn off the light when we are not in a room, and use more energy-efficient bulbs. While energy-efficient bulbs are expensive, they do last longer. Not only will this save money, but it reduces the amount of electricity that needs to be generated and so less fossil fuels have to be burned.
2. We should try to use public transport, walk, or cycle if possible. It is said that the bicycle is the most efficient form of transport known to man. One must travel in a car only when necessary and unavoidable. If one knows people who are going to the same place, he/she try to car share both the transport and the transportation expenses so that not only less petrol is used and less CO2 is emitted but also less money is spent.
3. We should try to buy paper or wood products that are certified by the Forestry Commission as being from sustainable, managed woodlands and avoid excess printing of documents from the computer. Print non-presentation documents on the draft ink setting. If possible print on both sides of sheets of paper, thus saving both paper and money.
4. We must try our level best to recycle as much as possible. This is not just limited to paper, but can include glass, plastic, metal, and a number of other things. Many agencies run recycling collection services.
5. Above all and beyond any expenses or loss we can encourage people we know to do any or all of the things stated above.
6. Even if we only turn off the light when we leave a room, the amount of energy that we save builds up over a period of time. If, bit by bit, more and more people start to do that, we may think of how much energy will be saved, thereby reducing the amount of fossil fuels that need to be burned, and reducing the amount of CO2 that enters the atmosphere, reducing global warming.
7. Similarly if we print on both sides of the paper, we may think how much paper we will save over time. Interestingly, quite a lot and without any loss if all the people do similar efforts on a street, how many trees would they save?
8. We must note and propagate the fact that small actions really do matter, even if at first they appear fairly insignificant. Most of the time, they involve little effort from us and a lot of them save our money in the long run; and while doing them, we are helping to save the world from ecological disaster.