Global warming is arguably one of the biggest problems facing our world today. We regularly hear about the dangers of rising sea levels, changes in weather patterns leading to an increase in natural disasters, and the impact on a range of species of animals and plants. Scientists are often appealing to governments and large organizations to change their habits in order to slow global warming and save the planet. But what is global warming?
In a NASA article in 2008, global arming was defined as “the increase in Earth’s average surface temperature due to rising levels of greenhouse gases”. This change is believed to be permanent and leads to climate change, which can cause a number of different problems for the planet and the organisms living on it. Most climate scientists believe that global warming is a result of the “greenhouse effect”, which humans are worsening because of pollution. Light and heat from the sun pass through the earth’s atmosphere, and most of this should bounce back and leave the atmosphere again, but there is a layer of greenhouse gases absorbing the heat and warming the surface of the earth. The existence of this layer of gas is essential to our survival as it is what makes the planet warm enough to sustain life, but as humans add to this layer of gas, more and more heat becomes trapped, and the temperature of the earth’s surface rises.
When the temperature rises, the sea level rises because glaciers and other ice melt. This is harmful for animals such as polar bears, but also puts human life at risk. Coastal areas are at risk of disappearing, and floods and tsunamis become greater threats. The various changes that take place due to the increase in temperatures can also lead to an increase in other natural disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes.
To help stop the temperatures increasing and prevent further climate change, many changes have been made by countries all over the world. Many places have begun moving away from fossil fuels and are instead encouraging the use of renewable energy sources, and in some cases nuclear power. This applies to both large corporations and individuals: people with solar panels on their house, for example, will be decreasing their personal usage of fossil fuels. The automotive industry has also changed a great deal in the last few years, with manufacturers and consumers being rewarded financially if they choose vehicles that are more eco-friendly because they produce fewer emissions. Electric and hybrid cars are also becoming more common in many places.
However, there is still much more that can be done. The large scale deforestation happening all over the planet has a major impact on carbon dioxide levels because trees use carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, so less trees means less CO2 being used up naturally. Furthermore, some very industrialized countries have so far failed to make much of an effort to decrease their emissions, and ultimately, the only way for us to slow global warming to a safe level is if every country and every individual around the world makes an effort to change their habits.