Environmental Problems

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Global Warming

Global warming is an increasing problem among us. According to National Geographic, temperatures on Earth are rising over twice as much as they were in 1968. Global warming is an atmospheric trend forecast by scientist as a result of global increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide and several other gases (Marsh & Grossa, 434).

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The reason temperatures are on the rise is due to majority of human action.
Many scientists believe the later part of the 19th century is when human activity began influencing the change in climate, but new studies bring the date forward to the 1830s. As humans began industrialization the chemistry of the atmosphere was altered with an addition of CO2. The period prior to this change is referred to as the “pre-industrial era” and the period following the change is simply referred to as the “industrial era”. Although it is difficult to determine the exact time at which humans began drastically influencing climate change, we can get a general idea from what scientists call the “time of emergence”.

Warming in the Arctic began in the 1830s and scientists have seen the fastest temperature rises in the world occur there, which is known as Arctic Amplification. While the continent does not show consistent warming throughout, the parts of the Arctic which have warmed the most considerably are the Antarctic Peninsula and West Antarctica. The Southern Hemisphere had a slower response, beginning to show signs of warming in the late 1890s. However, a clear signal of global warming in this area did not present itself until the 1960s. The onset of global warming in the tropical ocean area occurred earlier than is usually assumed from records that focus on the Northern Hemisphere’s land temperatures.

Sustained warming began in the early 19th century and has steadily continued until today. Changes in temperature and rainfall in different parts of the world signified this over time. Prior to the 19th century volcanic eruptions were causing the Earth to cool, but following this warming was accelerated beyond what could be explained by the Earth’s natural climate readjustment. Without the increase of pollution from industrialization the warming would have likely leveled off before the start of the 20th century. Global temperature rises in response to to the increasing amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere, known as climate sensitivity.

Another issue affecting global warming is greenhouse gas emissions. According to LiveScience, greenhouse gas is any gaseous compound in the atmosphere that is capable of absorbing infrared radiation. Thereby trapping and holding heat in the atmosphere. By increasing the heat in the atmosphere, these greenhouse gases are responsible for the greenhouse effect. The most known greenhouse gases are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Even though oxygen is the second most abundant gas in the atmosphere, oxygen does not absorb thermal infrared radiation. The formal definition of greenhouse effect from Dictionary.com is “The trapping of the sun’s warmth in a planet’s lower atmosphere due to the greater transparency of the atmosphere to visible radiation from the sun than to infrared radiation emitted from the planet’s surface”. According to NASA, 30% of the radiation striking Earth is reflected back to space. The remaining 70% is absorbed throughout the land and oceans. If the gas emissions continue then extreme weather, rising sea levels, plant and animal extinctions, ocean acidification, and major shifts in climate will be inevitable (LiveScience, 2015).

Coal has one of the largest impacts on global warming. Coal has multiple environmental impacts, but has the most harmful and long-term effects on global warming (Coal and Air Pollution, 2017). Human activity is causing the irreversible damage of climate change from burning coal. According to Coal and Air Pollution, some of the consequences include heavy rainfall and strong storms, loss of species, heat waves, increasing temperatures and sea levels. When burned, coal emits carbon dioxide and when mined emits methane gases which is the cause of the harmful environmental effects. Carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of coal is one of the main reasons for global warming. For every gram of carbon burnt, there are approximately four grams of carbon dioxide produced. Coal may have up to 60-80% carbon in it depending on the type (Coal and Air Pollution, 2017). Methane is a gas that is found in areas that coal is formed, such as swamps. When humans mine coal it releases the methane gases into the atmosphere. Around 10% of methane emissions are due to coal mining. According to Coal and Air Pollution, methane is 86 times more harsh than carbon dioxide at trapping heat over 20 years and 34 times more harsh over 100 years.

According to these statistics, it is obvious that the emissions from coal are harmful to the environment. If humans do not change the way they partake in these activities, global warming is going to continue to be a problem for the world.
Some alternative energy sources that are better for the environment would be: solar power, wind power,hydro power, tidal power, wave energy, geothermal heat, and biomass(Alternative Energy Renewables). Solar power is energy provided by the sun. We can use this energy to get electricity in our homes and to heat the water we use. A very common use of solar energy is a swimming pool. Solar power does not give off any pollution or carbon dioxide.

You can only use this energy if you have the specific technology to capture the energy. Another way you often see solar energy being captured is through the solar panels some people put on their roof(Factors Affecting Gasoline Prices). The next form of energy we could use would be wind power. The way we would use this energy would be through turbines. Wind power is one of the fastest growing alternative energy resources(Factors Affecting Gasoline Prices). Hydro power is one of the oldest energy sources and one of the most used. Another form of energy that should be used is tidal power. Tidal power is energy captured by the movement of water. Tidal energy is kinetic energy in the ocean’s tides. Tidal turbines are also used to generate energy.

When water moves through the turbine, energy gets created. Wave energy should also be used more. There is a lot of energy in waves. Wave energy is generated by waves going through a turbine. This is almost how a dam works(Factors Affecting Gasoline Prices). Another form of energy that should be used is geothermal energy. Geothermal energy is energy that comes from Earth’s core by magma. The geothermal energy is used to heat different houses and buildings. It can also be used to heat the water we use. We also used biomass for energy. The biomass fuel we use the most is wood(Factors Affecting Gasoline Prices). It is the primary fuel for heating and cooking in many developing countries.

Works Cited

  • “Alternative Energy Renewables.” Global Greenhouse Warming, www.global-greenhouse-warming.com/alternative-energy.html.
  • “Causes of Global Warming.” National Geographic, National Geographic, 14 July 2017,
    www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/global-warming-causes/. Accessed 6 Dec. 2018.
  • “Coal and Air Pollution.” Union of Concerned Scientists, 19 Dec. 2017,
    www.ucsusa.org/clean-energy/coal-and-other-fossil-fuels/coal-air-pollution#.XAlflPZFw
    2w. Accessed 6 Dec. 2018.
  • Factors Affecting Gasoline Prices – Energy Explained, Your Guide To Understanding Energy – Energy Information Administration, www.eia.gov/energyexplained/index.php?page=renewable_home.
  • Lallanilla, Marc. “Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Causes & Sources.” LiveScience, Purch, 10 Feb.
    2015, www.livescience.com/37821-greenhouse-gases.html. Accessed 6 Dec. 2018.
  • Marsh, William M., and John Grossa, Jr. Environmental Geography Science, Land Use, and
    Earth Systems. 3rd ed., Hoboken, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005, p. 434.
  • Pidcock, Roz. “Scientists Clarify Starting Point for Human-Caused Climate
    Change.” Carbon Brief Clear on Climate, 24 Aug. 2016, www.carbonbrief.org/
    scientists-clarify-starting-point-for-human-caused-climate-change. Accessed
    6 Dec. 2018.                    

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