Unpredictable surprises of Global Warming

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Global warming has become the real test of the foundations of our modern society, civilization and democracy. Its anthropogenic causes are amply proved. Its implications have started hitting humanity, which are too harmful to be ignored. The solutions are at hand. Therefore, the world leaders have the responsibility to respond to it effectively for the cause of humanity – our future generation. “Climate change, and what we do about it, will define us, our era, and ultimately the global legacy we leave for future generations”, says Ban Ki Moon. Global warming is simply defined as an increase in the average global temperatures. Though it is an environmental problem, it has serious implications for global economics, geopolitics, society, humanity and all living beings. “Global warming is one of the most controversial science issues of the 21st century, challenging the very structure of our global society”, says Mark. Though there have been controversies between two schools of scientific thought, one calling it a myth and the other considering it is a reality, there is sufficient evidence to support the later. Anthropogenic activities, causing increased emissions of greenhouse gases, are behind global warming. It has been established, that, if not addressed properly and immediately, it would have catastrophic impacts. Global warming means the earth is becoming warmer gradually. There is an increase in average global temperatures of air and oceans, accompanied by widespread melting of glaciers and rising sea level. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its ‘Synthesis Report on Climate Change’, states that there is clear evidence for a 0.6 0C rise in global temperatures and a 20cm rise in sea level during the 20th century. It predicts that “global temperatures could rise by 1.4 to 5.8 0C and sea level could rise by 20 to 88cm by the year 2100.” The majority of the scientists and research organisations, including the IPCC, have reached the consensus that global warming is caused by the massive increase of green house gases such as Carbon dioxide (Co2) in the atmosphere resulting from the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. There are many sources/agents which are responsible for emissions of greenhouse gases – resulting mainly from the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. Industrial processes, power generation, transportation and domestic consumption of fossil fuels are major sources of anthropogenic emissions. Unfortunately, fossil fuels i.e. oil, coal, and natural gas supply 85 percent of the energy supply whereas the clean forms of energy i.e. nuclear, biomass and hydrogen only form 15 percent of the energy supply. On the other hand, cutting of trees for settlements and natural fire incidents like the summer fire in Australia and the unusual fire in Russia in 2010, due to high temperatures, are also causing deforestation at a massive level. In this way, the forests, which are a major source of balancing CO2, are also decreasing, which is increasing in the atmosphere. Global warming is going to divest communities that are already the most marginalized in the world. One; the coastline regions are most vulnerable. As the UN’s panel on climate has reported that the sea level could rise by 20-88 cm in the next 100 years, this is a serious problem for coastal areas which will be more prone to storms and floods. Two; storms and floods are major natural hazards. The records show that the temperature regions, particularly in the northern hemisphere, have witnessed more storms over the last 50 years, which the world can be witnessed now. Third, diseases and injury due to extreme events; increased frequency of diarrhea and cardiovascular diseases. By far the most important threat to human health is access to fresh drinking water. Fourth; the ecosystem which is an essential component of biodiversity is going to be seriously affected by global warming. Fifth; the most worrying concern about climate change is the effect it will have on agriculture. The world is already facing a food crisis. According to the UN, more than 800 million go to sleep hungry every night. Moreover, there is a point of no return- a “threshold”, after which warming may become unstoppable. The earth’s climate can change abruptly when the responsible factors reach the thresholds. Knowing the dangerous consequences of inaction, the world needs to act to check global warming. As global warming is caused by anthropogenic emissions, the most logical approach to this problem would be to cut emissions significantly. There should be public awareness campaigns about the catastrophes of global warming. The most important is an urgent collective response at the international level. Furthermore, the effort at the international level is not the only way to control global warming; all the people can play their roles as well to coup up with this environmental challenge. Our efforts can make this planet a healthy place to live on, so do it now.

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