Global Warming, also known as climate change, is a rise of the average temperature in the atmosphere and in the oceans. Like the name says, it is a global phenomenon. Every corner of the world experiences it due to an accumulation of greenhouse gas. Since gas doesnít get fixed in one area like a solid element, its spreads everywhere. The problems associated with global warming will be different depending on the region, but in general, nobody on this planet is safe from the changes.
Global warming is the result of an accumulation of six types of gas called greenhouse gases. The most important ones are carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. Carbon dioxide represents close to three quarters (72%) of the greenhouse gases released in the atmosphere. It is created by the combustion of fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and charcoal. Methane and nitrous oxide respectively form 18% and 9% of the greenhouse gas. They are mainly caused by farming and agriculture products, such as fertilizer. Greenhouse gases emissions are proportionally linked to human activities, because, for instance, scientists notice heavier emission during the week than the weekend.
Power stations, industrial processes and transportation need energy to function, and they often use fossil fuels to do so. Consequently, we bomb the atmosphere with carbon dioxide whenever we massively combust fossil fuels, woods, and deforest areas. Every time we burn fossil fuels, we produce extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The polar bear became the symbol of climate change. Painting by Dave Todaro, www.davetodaro.com
To start, carbon dioxide is a natural gas that already exists in the atmosphere at a proportion of 0.04%, accompanied with nitrogen at 78%, oxygen at 21% and other gases. Vegetation feeds on it and exhales oxygen, which is the opposite what we do when we breathe. This gas is a crucial element for life on Earth, including us. However, there is an amount that exceeds natureís needs and consequently, the unused quantity stays in the atmosphere. The greenhouse gases that settle in the atmosphere are responsible for global warming.
What is it that greenhouse gases do? They stay in the air and thicken the atmosphere. At a natural dose, itís a good thing because it traps warm air and make temperature on Earth more favourable. However, when it is too thick, it imprisons too much heat and changes the whole climate. If we take Venus as an extreme example, it has such a thick atmosphere and imprisons so much heat that the average temperature there is hotter than Mercury, the closest planet to the sun.
Why is that a problem? Well, the important thing here is to look at the big picture. It took millions of years for the ecosystem to adapt itself to a certain climate and if we change it drastically, the planet will experience heavy migration and extermination of species. Migration applies as well to humans as to other animals, and therefore, warmer weather and heavier migration would be more likely spread tropical diseases.
Also, it would create excessive dryness in some area, increase sea level and provoke heavier natural catastrophes. The costs of these damages are unlimited. But whatís more urgent here, is that the permanent frozen ground in the North contains a lot of methane. If it starts to melt, it will evaporate enough methane in the atmosphere to create irreversible damages. Fortunately, most countries are aware of it and are ready to act.