Many people believe that climate change is a hoax. They do not know that this is a reality and it is happening right now. In recent years, there has constantly been something in the news about natural disasters happening around the world. These changes started during the “Industrial Revolution” because of man’s ambition for innovation in the world. They have not only changed the world but the climate and the environment. The issue with the new industry was the discovery of fuels and motive power, such as coal, electricity, petroleum, and the internal-combustion engine.
The effects of the use of these innovations modified the natural greenhouse. The greenhouse effect occurs when the heat from the sun is absorbed by the atmosphere. Then the natural gases: water vapor, nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide, and methane contribute in send the heat back to the space. This effect helps the surface of the Earth to cool down and human activities interfere with this natural event. Here is when global warming take place. The atmosphere does not stabilize the temperature, instead the temperature rises on the Earth. The scientific community reported in 2018 that the increase in global temperature due to global warming is about 0.8 to 1.2°C (1.4 to 2.2°F). Human activities are emitting a significant number of carbon emissions; as a result, in the year 2100 the global temperature would raise from 3 to 4°C (5.4°F to 7.2°F).
The consequences of this temperature rise have been shown through the years by a series of events. For example, the ocean waters are getting warmer and partially melting glaciers and other ice. The warm water in the oceans is expanding, so the level of the sea is rising. Also the increase of the oceans alters several ecosystems by killing animals and plants that have an important role in the planet. This is a serious problem that people are creating as a society, and it will impact future generations. As a part of this planet, humans have the responsibility to encourage others to take action because our participation is fundamental to prevent global warming. The scientific community stated that this generation would be the last one that could do something to decrease the impact of the global warming on the planet (NASA, Global Climate Change, Vital Signs of the Planet). In the following pages, several measures are listed that people could do to contribute in reducing the effects of calamities produced by global warming.
Everyone knows that reducing waste is good for the environment because it conserves natural resources. What many people do not know is that the reduction of solid waste and recycling have an impact on global warming. The manufacture, distribution and use of products have a repercussion in the emission of greenhouse gases. An effective reduction on waste, prevention, and recycling, also called waste reduction, helps to better manage the waste that everyone generates. Reducing waste is a powerful strategy to lower greenhouse gases because it would decrease emissions from energy consumption. Also, recycling saves energy. Goods made from recycled materials typically require less energy than the production of virgin raw material goods.
When people reuse the goods or when the products are made with less material, less energy is needed to extract, transport and process the raw materials and manufacture the products. Thus, the demand for energy decreases, fewer fossil fuels are burned and less carbon dioxide is emitted into the atmosphere. In addition, recycling and waste prevention diverts materials from incinerators, reducing greenhouse gas emissions caused by the combustion of garbage. Moreover, the prevention of waste and recycling, including composting, diverts organic waste from landfills which reduces the methane that would be released by decomposing these materials in a landfill. Another way is to increase the storage of carbon dioxide in forests. The trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in the wood in a process called ‘carbon sequestration’. The prevention of waste and the recycling of paper products allow more trees to remain in the forests where they would continue to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
The concern with fossil fuels and their effect on the environment is becoming a priority too. Because of the increasing scientific consensus on the polluting effect of fossil fuels, people and businesses are beginning to focus on their carbon footprints and ways to reduce the use of fossil fuel. However, to truly solve the problem, it would be necessary to change much of our infrastructure, as well as our practices in relation to transportation, food and electricity. When most people think about fossil fuel use, they think only about personal transportation. More than 28 percent of the United States’ energy consumption in 2008 was used for transportation, according to the United States Department of Energy. There are many ways to reduce the use of energy in transportation. For short distances, walking and cycling are the healthiest options for everyone and the environment. On average, a person could travel three miles or less by bicycle in the same amount of time and the same distance it would take to drive on city streets.
In many areas, public transportation is also an option. If people leave their cars at home at least once a week, they could reduce the gas mileage a 20 percent. When people have to drive, there are ways to increase the fuel efficiency of the car and reduce your fossil fuel use. The easiest way is to share the vehicle. If two people carpooled instead of driving alone in the car, both would be reducing their energy consumption by 50 percent. The more passengers in the car, the more efficient their energy consumption. An SUV that takes five people uses less liters per kilometer per passenger than a hybrid that carries a single person. However, if people cannot find others to travel with, hybrids and other fuel-efficient vehicles can also reduce the fossil fuel use. Many hybrids still have relatively low fuel efficiency; a small car with a small engine, such as a Honda Civic, has close to the average fuel efficiency that most hybrids have. In addition, diesel cars could run on biodiesel, which is generated with vegetable oil instead of crude oil. Diesel cars could be converted to run directly from vegetable oil, and pure electric cars are much more efficient than gasoline cars.
Transportation should be a primary consideration in the planning and design of cities. Care should be taken to accommodate alternate transportation and to promote an active lifestyle for the residents. People whose homes are a block or two away from a store are more likely to go shopping by foot, especially if there is a sidewalk for pedestrians. It is common for people who live less than a mile away from work go to work by walking or cycling. Cities and towns with high density populations are more efficient and require less fossil fuel to function. Our cities need to be redesigned to be more efficient and favor more pedestrians. Building and improving public transportation should also be an important priority.
Fossil fuels are also consumed significantly in the production, storage, and transportation of food. According to the Center for Urban Education on Sustainable Agriculture, a plate of food in the United States travels more than 1,500 miles in trucks that run on diesel fuel before reaching the table. Before that, it is grown using petrochemical fertilizers and stored in refrigeration that obtains energy from coal-based power plants. If people move food production to local sources, close to the cities and towns where food is consumed, it would save a lot on fossil fuels. If it is grown organically, it would use natural fertilizers instead of chemicals made from fossil fuels. Residential electricity use accounted for more than 21 percent of total 2008 consumption, according to the Department of Energy of the United States.
Most of it is electric power generated from coal. Everyone could diminish electrical usage in many ways, some as simple as switching to fluorescent light bulbs, which use less energy than incandescent bulbs. Better construction designs could greatly improve the heating and cooling efficiency of homes and buildings, which in the long term would lead to less energy use. There are many programs that certify buildings as ‘green building’ in their design, such as the Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED) program, and many of the features they evaluate have to do with energy efficiency. For example, LEED certified buildings often have thicker glass panels in the windows to keep them warmer. There are also many alternative energy sources that we can use to generate electricity. Wind turbines, like windmills, are an easy and cost-effective way to generate electricity in places where there is abundant wind.
In sunny climates, solar panels can be installed. Nuclear power plants can also generate electricity and replace coal-based plants. Livestock is responsible for 12% of greenhouse gas emissions related to man. This percentage comes mainly from the change in land use and deforestation caused by the expansion of agriculture, as well as the methane released by the animals, plus a small part that comes from the management of manure and the production of feed. A study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that it would be more profitable for farmers in the coming years to increase livestock production in mixed systems, where livestock are fed with fresh grasses and high-quality feed, instead of grass-based systems.
This development would lead to a 23% reduction in land use emissions in the next two decades without the need for climate mitigation policies. Cows, sheep and goats grow rapidly and produce more milk when they eat diets that include improved grain or feed supplements. This means that you can increase the number of animals on less land, with fewer emissions per pound of meat or gallon of milk produced. The study foresees that the increase of the cost of the soil and the continuous increase of the yields in the agricultural sector would give rise to changes in the diets of the animals in the future. This type of diet is efficient, not only from the point of view of reducing greenhouse gases, but also to maximize agricultural benefit and food production. In previous works, carried out by the same group, a detailed database was made highlighting the differences in the efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions of the different livestock production systems.
The study adds to this by examining the economic potential of a transition to more efficient systems as a mitigation measure, highlighting the policies that would be most effective in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while maintaining food availability. Changing livestock production systems remains a challenge. The researchers say that policies to improve education and provide access to the market are key to trigger change. In addition, they point out that safeguards are needed to ensure that the intensification of agriculture does not lead to environmental damage or reduce animal welfare. In conclusion, global warming is one of the largest threats facing the world today. This problem has been caused by mankind and must be solved by mankind. The options listed above are just a small portion of the actions that can be taken to preserve the world for future generations, but the effects of global warming will only worsen if large scale action is not taken soon.
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