Global Warming, Its Causes and Potential Solutions

Introduction/Background

In 1992, nations around the globe ratified an international agreement on climatic change. The goal was to develop mechanisms that could help to restore sanity to the global environment that faces the threat of global warming. “The United Nations Framework Convention on Climatic Change” (UNFCC) aims at addressing the problem of climatic change through strategies, including addressing the variations in the average global temperatures. It also focuses on the relevant coping mechanisms that governments can embrace in the era of global warming. From 1995, nations embarked on strategies for enhancing their cooperation through negotiations that aimed at enhancing global reaction to the problem of global warming and climatic change. The UN was concerned that global warming would have negative implications such as hunger. This concern pushed “The United Nations Framework Convention on Climatic Change” to organize a meeting in Kyoto, Japan. The objective was to finalize an agreement that was seeking industrialized nations to set and meet targets for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The ensuing agreement from the 1997 convention, which was signed by 160 UN member states, was named the Kyoto Protocol (Conklin 65). The first phase of testing the protocol took place from 2008 to 2012. Nevertheless, not much was accomplished, with nations such as the US and Canada pulling themselves out of the commitment. After 2012, parties to the Kyoto Protocol embarked on another commitment period from 2013 to 2020 (“The United Nations Framework Convention on Climatic Change”). In this phase, parties to the UNFCC have declared their undying commitment to addressing the issue of their carbon footprints through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions coupled with adopting environmentally friendly technologies, including green buildings and greener transport systems. Considering the problem of global warming continues to threaten global communities even today, this paper finds it paramount to discuss its causes and potential solutions.

Reasons for Global Warming

The high emphasis on the concern of climatic change by environmental economists suggests that the problem of global warming is a real threat to the sustainability of international populations. Cook supports this assertion by claiming that global warming has been scientifically proven to have negative implications on the environment, health, and agriculture. The dangers outweigh potential positive implications. Human activities are largely blamed for the menace that threatens the sustainability of the global populations. Human activities, which destabilize the natural flora and fauna, contribute immensely to global warming and climatic change.

Ambarish and Raymond assert that global warming occurs due to the increased emission of greenhouse gasses (GHG) (2). The reasons for the increased GHG can be explained using human activities as the reference point. For instance, the exposure of green materials or wastes generated by people to the air leads to their breakdown by anaerobic bacteria coupled with other organisms to form methane and carbon II oxide (Ambarish and Raymond 3). These two products contribute naturally to the greenhouse effect. The increased levels of GHG emissions pose the risk of global warming, which results in a heightened melting of ice caps in the polar region. This situation translates into the raising of water levels in the oceans, thus leading to submerged coastal regions (Ambarish and Raymond 8). GHG emissions present the challenge of weather pattern disturbances that have been associated with catastrophic storms, flooding, and cases of drought across the world. Conklin argues that these problems influence local, national, and international relations since they have an economic, social, and political bearing (65).

People’s day-to-day activities produce green wastes that end up in landfills. In the absence of air, the wastes naturally break down into methane, carbon II oxide, mulch, and water with the help of anaerobic bacteria. Carbon II oxide and methane come out in approximately equal amounts (Ambarish and Raymond 9). Methane further decomposes into water and CO2. All the components of green waste decomposition escalate climatic change and consequently global warming. When the planet warms, climate also changes. However, GHGs are important in trapping heat to the extent that it does not escape into the space to make the earth mulch cooler. Challenges occur when the gasses increase to a magnitude where more energy is trapped than necessary.

Cook cites various scientific facts that oppose myths about the reasons for global warming and climatic change. For instance, the organization clears the myth that there is no consensus about the cause of global warming. He notes, “97% of climatic experts agree that humans are causing global warming” (Cook). It also establishes the fact that climate reacts to forces that seek to alter it and that glaciers are incredibly reducing not posing an immense danger to global populations that rely on them for water supplies (Cook). While the organization does undisputable work in clearing the myths and providing scientific evidence on the implications and potential explanations concerning global warming, such facts do little help without considering the role of science in handling the problem.

Smith demonstrates a proper understanding of the trend in climatic change and the impact that such changes have on the environment. According to him, an understanding of the problem of global warming requires the input of various stakeholders who include climate economists, climate scientists, and environmental agencies such as the UNEP among others. These parties have to work collaboratively to keep the issue of climate change in check. Indeed, collaboration lacks among different stakeholders when it comes to explaining the causes and appropriate steps to end the problem of global warming. For example, Smith reveals a missing gap between climate science and economics. He argues that economists have abandoned the significance of science in their analysis of climate change to the extent that they only include old-fashioned methodical facts that make no sense in the current debate about global warming.

The contribution of collaboration in addressing the problem of global warming explains one of the reasons for the continued existence of the issue. Amid scientific facts established by Cook, the lack of commitment by some parties to reducing human activities that result in global warming is a clear indication that some nations are not worried about the problem. For example, the US made a decision not to support the Kyoto Protocol in 2001 due to fears from its people that maximum emission limits would raise the cost of production. Canada argued that it would not assent to the costly protocol regulations in case the US, its closest competitor, failed to comply. Canada was worried about its capability to contend with the US in both domestic and international markets. Irrespective of the argument advanced by a nation on the decision not to support any pact seeking to address the problem of global warming, questions arise on the commitment of such countries to addressing the challenge of global warming. Such concern is valid after considering the effect of increased greenhouse gas emissions, which explain the phenomenon of global warming.

Solving the Problem

All countries across the world are implementing various solutions for addressing the problem of global warming. During the Paris Summit held in 2015, nations ratified to a pact that sought to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The ultimate goal is to ensure that future warming remains at 2 degrees Celsius or below. While this effort is incredible, it is also important to consider various efforts that can be contributed by all people within a nation to ensure the commitment becomes a reality. Such efforts include setting limits on global warming pollution, investing in green jobs and clean energy, driving smarter cars, creating green homes and buildings, and building better communities and transport networks. These solutions all narrow down to one point. Greenhouse gas emissions are the worst enemy to the problem of global warming. The gasses are released whenever fossil fuels are burned down to release energy or due to the decomposition of green wastes.

Greenhouses constitute one of the mechanisms for addressing the problem of global warming and climatic change. They entail, “structures, which use processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s lifecycle: from design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition” (Denchak). This strategy suggests that green buildings minimally interfere with the natural environment. However, various concerns are worth considering when it comes to adopting any building technology. For instance, putting up green buildings aims at mitigating environmental impacts that are attributed to conventional houses. Nevertheless, this plan is challenging since some extent of natural environment disorientation and interference is inevitable in the process of building any house. Consequently, the greenest building is the one that has not been developed. This argument makes the concept of pure green building impractical.

The reduction of energy consumption entails a second important solution to the problem of global warming and climatic change. The International Energy Agency estimates that well above 40 percent of the total global energy consumption is due to the buildings (Kerry 496). Buildings are also responsible for 24 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions (Kerry 496). Therefore, arguably, it is possible to manage the impact of global warming due to environmental degradation by controlling the further development of various ways of building. This strategy requires a shift to focus on going the greenway in building and construction. The only worry is whether this technology is sustainable and readily embraceable by all nations across the world. Green transport systems reduce energy consumption. Such systems must be energy sufficient, efficient, and self-sustaining. Hence, green transport systems require far-reaching investments to reduce energy consumption rates.

Fuel-smart automobiles such as hybrid or electric vehicles help in solving the problem of global warming. For example, the US has the goal of ensuring that all vehicles and light trucks comply and/or meet the set clean automobile standards by 2025. The standards require the automobiles to use one gallon of fuel for an average of 54.5 miles traveled compared to the current consumption averaging 28.3 miles covered per gallon (Denchak). The realization of this goal implies a reduction in fuel consumption. The recycling of materials and wastes is incredible in solving the problem of global warming. For example, recyclable building materials minimize the amount of energy requirement in the extraction and transportation of virgin resources.

Setting limits on global warming can guarantee consistent measures to reduce the depletion rate of the ozone layer. Arguably, the Kyoto Protocol was one of such effective measures for accomplishing this concern. The protocol did not require nations to have similar targets concerning the reduction of GHG emissions. In the 1997 agreement, which came into force in 2005, nations were put to task to meet their commitment goals in the reduction of the emissions. The deadline was set as between 2008 and 2012 (Conklin 65). The overall goal was to cut down global emissions by not less than 5.2% of the total 1990 emission levels. For example, Canada had a commitment to reduce its emission by 6% (equivalent to 270 megatons) while the US had a pledge to reduce the levels by 7%. The EU pledged to reduce emissions by 8 %. Hence, the world would significantly lessen the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, which have been fuelling the problem of climatic change and global warming. Challenges only emerged when Canada and the US decided to withdraw from the pact.

Implementing municipal waste management projects can help to reduce the amount of GHG, thereby solving the problem of global warming. The increasing urban population has led to a rise in waste production at an alarming rate. “Global Review of Solid Waste Management” exemplifies the severity of solid wastes in urban areas, claiming that urban centers housed about 2.9 billion people ten years ago where each person was producing an average of 0.64 kg of MSW (municipal solid waste) per day. This figure amounts to about 0.68 billion tons of MSW annually. With the onset of the increased consumption of mass-produced manufactured products, the urban population has increased. Similarly, waste production per individual urban resident has also gone up. The World Bank estimates that the population of urban centers’ residents was about 3 billion in 2013, with each person producing about 1.2 kg of wastes on a daily basis (“Global Review of Solid Waste Management”). Projecting these statistics in 10 years to come from 2013 implies that the world urban population will have grown to about 4.3 billion by 2025, with a corresponding increase of wastes production of up to 1.42 kg per individual on a daily basis. The figure will amount to close to 2.2 billion tons of MSW annually. Failure to develop waste management plants implies that municipal wastes will significantly contribute to global warming through the increased production of GHG by 2025.

Conclusion

Global warming presents immense challenges to the sustainability of the global population if ardent measures are not taken to curb it. The paper has argued that human activities are largely blamed for climatic changes that have led to global warming. People generate wastes whose decomposition produces greenhouse gasses. They also travel in vehicles that emit carbon dioxide. Worse still, they live in houses built using energy-intensive technologies. After recognizing these human-related reasons for global warming, the paper has proposed solutions such as green building, using greener cars, the development of waste management plants, and the recycling of wastes to address the problem of global warming. The solutions call for the alteration of global societies’ living styles if their commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions as set by the Kyoto Protocol is to be fruitful by 2020.

Works Cited

Ambarish, Karmalkar, and Bradley Raymond. “Consequences of Global Warming of 1.5oC and 2oC for Regional Temperature and Precipitation Changes in the Contagious United States.” PLoS One, vol. 12, no.1, 2017, pp. 1-17.

Conklin, David. “From Kyoto to Copenhagen to Cancun to Durban to Doha: Successes and Failures in the International Climate Negotiations.” Journal of International Business Education, vol. 7, no. 1, 2012, pp. 65-66.

Cook, John. “Global Warming and Climate Change Myths.” Skeptical Science, Web.

Denchak, Melissa. “How You Can Stop Global Warming.” NRDC, 2016, Web.

“Global Review of Solid Waste Management.” The World Bank, Web.

Kerry, Emanuel. “Will Global Warming Make Hurricane Forecasting More Difficult?” Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, vol. 98, no. 3, 2017, pp. 495-501.

Smith, Noah. “Economists are Out of Touch with Climate Change.” Bloomberg, 2016, Web.

“The United Nations Framework Convention on Climatic Change.” UNFCC, Web.