In the recent decade, the issue of global warming has been the focus of the media, the public, and various government institutions. The environment around us is already showing signs of being affected by the phenomenon. While the issue is not novel and the related changes in the climate have been observed for the past hundred years, it is only recently that serious actions have started to be employed to tackle it, as well as copious amount of disinformation spread by contrarians who downplay and distort evidence.
The question of global warming, its looming danger, and the decisions businesses and governments make to address it, have always been in the centre of the public attention.
Over the past 50 years, the average numbers of the global temperature have increased rapidly and steadily, compared to recorded history. According to the data collected by NASA and the National Centres for Environmental Information, 2015 was the hottest year in the 134 years of the former’s history. This cannot be explained as an exception to the rule since NASA has data on sixteen hottest years in their record history, and fifteen of those happened between 2000 and 2016 (Brown, Cabbage and McCarty par.6). Rising temperatures generate long heatwaves, which, in turn, cause extreme weather conditions around the world, from droughts to more powerful and frequent hurricanes, causing tens of thousands of deaths around the world.
The purpose of this paper is to organize and summarize the most current information about the global warming, its impact on the world and the society in general, the efforts of the governments aimed at mitigating the effects of this phenomenon, and the actions average people can do to aid the cause.
The topic of global warming easily generates debate, as alongside research into the dangers of the phenomena, there are also studies that attempt to persuade the public and the media that these issues are either a hoax, or a exaggerated by the corporations for the purpose of increased profits. Authors like Larry Bell postulate that companies knowingly twist information about climate change, start fear campaigns, and attack and discredit those who don’t agree with the publicly available information (Bell xi).
While the majority of academia generally disregards such assertions, there are people who take them to heart. It is vital that the general public is aware of its role in the grand scheme of things, and involves itself with initiatives aimed at combating the phenomena.
A lot of reliable, peer-reviewed information about the issues of climate change and global warming, its causes and consequences, is provided on the website of the National Geographic Magazine. The magazine and the accompanying website is renowned for high quality material and content, and in the recent years has put a lot of focus on the environmental issues, endangered species, pollution and deforestation, which makes it invaluable for studying the current topic.
A significant part of this study is based on the book “Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast”, which also combines a lot of empirical data to both about the global warming driven climate change, and about the state and international politics surrounding it (Archer 1).
The study also refers to “Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability”, the report conducted for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which contains information about some of the latest developments in the area climate change, its effects on different aspects of society, and some of the advice on adaptation, mitigation, and sustainable development (IPCC i).
Finally, this paper uses data from a lot of smaller sources, to create a broader image of the situation, and fill the gaps left by the discussed articles.
2016 marks the year that the first mammal species had gone extinct due to the global warning and climate change. The Bramble Cay melomys, a small rodent that used to populate a small island on the Great Barrier Reef, has not been sighted since 2009, and is now considered to probably be extinct by scientists. As a result of global warming and rising water levels, the island has been slowly going under, reducing its habitat by almost 97 percent (Howard 4).
While this is the first recognized victim, predictions show that due to climate change, a quarter of the species on our planet could find themselves extinct by 2050. Among the possible victims of climate change are polar bears, whose habitat is slowly being destroyed as the global warming destroys the ice glaciers. Almost 1,500 thousand species of fish and 30 species of whales and dolphins can follow the fate of the Bramble Cay melomys due to the high temperatures threatening to destroy the Great Barrier Reef (Greshko 3).
Not only is the animal kingdom affected. In the US, a Native American tribe is forced to relocate, because more than 98 percent of the isle the live on is currently under water (Houten 3)
Other climate effects of the global warming include severe droughts, increased frequency of hurricanes, season shift and a wide array of other factors. Together, they threaten the safety of coastal systems and low-lying areas, the oceanic and continental flora and fauna, the security of crops, fresh water, and food production systems. (Archer 57, 153; IPCC 229-658).
Obviously, such effects cannot be written off as a hoax or an exaggeration, and require a lot of public attention.
One of the principle causes of the global warming and the rising temperatures is the increase of carbon dioxide emissions, together with other greenhouse gases, over the past century due to the burning of fossil fuels, and the use of adverse chemicals by the agriculture and other industries which are released into the atmosphere and is accumulated there (Archer 29).
Our planer already has greenhouse gasses in its atmosphere, with ozone being one of them, and they allow our planet to maintain an average temperature of 15 degrees Celsius, instead of -18, as it would be without them. However, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report has provided evidence that the increased output of man produces GHGs has caused an almost 40% increase of carbon dioxide concentration, resulting in the present temperature growth. Due to human activity the levels of carbon dioxide are higher than they have been in hundreds of thousands of years.
The facts listed above have been accepted by most of the global institutions, from science academies to governments and multinational corporations. In response to this data, governments have stared international initiatives aimed at tackling the global warming.
These solutions can be grouped into climate change mitigation, adaptation, creations of systems augmenting climate resilience, and, in future, climate engineering (IPCC 1101). Emission reduction and decreasing deforestation are currently the main objectives of most of the international initiatives. Governments around the world spend billions of Dollars on renewable energy sources, like solar and wind power, to hopefully replace the fossil fuels and coal as the primary sources of energy.
These programs also include increased vehicle fuel efficiency, and use of oil alternatives like biofuel. Lastly, this includes transformation of the global economy into one that will rely on more energy efficient technologies. Adaptation mostly involves preparation for the now inevitable consequences of the global warming, which include the aforementioned rise of sea levels, risk of heat waves and risks of wildfire, as well as the storms and hurricanes.
Finally, governments and scientific communities expend a lot of efforts to oppose misinformation and increase the public awareness, so they would be able to filter information on their own (“Global Warming” par.15-18).
The threat of global warming is not something distant and unlikely, but is very real, with a lot of its signs already seen in the world around us today. Different parts of the world are already struggling with rising sea levels, shifts in weather and climate, dangerous weather, migrating wildlife and threatened flora. Thousands of species of animals are threatened with extinction not due to natural causes, but due to human activities, with no new species to take their place. However, the governments various institutions have already recognized the danger, and have started taking actions to counter global warming.
The data collected for this research shows a significant shift in perspective on the issue of the global warming. While in the recent past most studies lamented lack of government action, and called upon such, in the recent years the nations and industries have shifted their focus towards “green” policies and efforts, often to their financial detriment, and at massive financial costs. This only serves emphasize the seriousness of the problem and the importance of quick action.
However, only time will show how successful their initiatives and policies are, and future work needs to focus on studying their progress and effectiveness, in order to better guide them towards the global warming mitigation.
Archer, David. Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2011. Print.
Bell, Larry. Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power behind the Global Warming Hoax. Austin, TX: Greenleaf Book Group, 2011. Print.
Brown, Dwayne, Michael Cabbage and Leslie McCarty. “NASA, NOAA Analyses Reveal Record-Shattering Global Warm Temperatures in 2015.” NASA. 2016.
“Global Warming.” Union of Concerned Scientists. n.d.
Greshko, Michael. “Warming Threatens the Great Barrier Reef Even More Than We Thought.” National Geographic. 2016.
IPCC. “Climate Change 2014 Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects.” Cambridge University Press (2014): I-1101. Web. 29 Jun. 2016
Houten, Carolyn Van. “The First Official Climate Refugees in the U.S. Race Against Time.” National Geographic. 2016.
Howard, Brian Clark. “First Mammal Species Goes Extinct Due to Climate Change.” National Geographic. 2016.