Within the context of modern issues, there are few issues as pressing as that of global warming. Global warming is one of the most potentially catastrophic developments of our time. Polluting the earth’s atmosphere with fossil fuel emissions to power industries, for transportation and to light and heat homes has more than just a negative effect on our lungs. The greenhouse gasses emitted by fossil fuel pollution is acting to warm the planet. It been a long time in coming and we’ve been warned for decades, but the situation is now awful. Unless we, as a species, take drastic steps to mitigate the damages immediately, our species may not have long to live. This problem is being caused by humans and can be solved by humans.
The greenhouse effect is a natural occurrence. When the sun’s radioactive rays hit the earth, some are trapped, which warms the earth to a habitable temperature. About 35 percent of these rays are deflected back into space. Just as a garden greenhouse traps warmth of the sun, the earth does too. Due to the high concentrations of greenhouse gas pollutants such as carbon dioxide (CO2), and methane present in the atmosphere, this delicate balance is being disrupted and the earth is warming dramatically. The over-abundance of greenhouse gasses is caused by human activity. Deforestation is another major contributor to this. As more and more trees are cut or burned, they give off stored carbon into the atmosphere. Additionally, fewer trees means
less of the photosynthesis process, turning carbon dioxide to oxygen, to occur. Deforestation causes about 20 percent of the total CO2 emitted. Trees are very important as they play a huge role in the carbon cycle. The more trees that there are, the less carbon dioxide will be in the atmosphere and the more oxygen in our air.
The consequences of global warming are vast and alarming. Polar ice, permafrost and glaciers are melting. Glacial ice feeds into watersheds which form rivers that supplies fresh water to about half the world’s population. As these glaciers melt and rivers dry, wars will be fought over water. As sea ice melts, ocean levels rise which is already inundating coastlines. Scientists have predicted millions of coastal residents will be displaced as waters rise. Because untold massive amounts of methane are trapped under artic ice, when it is released its game over for nearly all living organisms as the earth will warm rapidly and out of control. In the coming years, deserts will replace farmlands in the central U.S. and other regions. Food will become scarcer as the decades go on due the overall nature of the destructive tendencies of global warming and the rise of global populations. (Perrone 2017)
The solutions to global warming have been detailed by scientists and politicians in many nations for many years but the will to act has been disheartening. One of these solutions is to charge for the release of CO2. The U.S. subsidizes oil and coal companies which are one of the main contributors to this climate catastrophe as well as agricultural companies which also provide a substantial amount of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere. (Ruddiman, 2018) The average temperature has increased 88% more rapidly than predicted as a result of both these in the last decade. (Wagner, 2017) CO2 pollution caused by burning fossil fuels should be taxed, as it is in some nations. A carbon tax would result in about a 35-cent increase for a gallon of gas, for example. The money gained would pay for carbon reducing technologies and to reward companies that switch to clean renewable fuels such as wind and solar energies.
Another solution that should be taken is the electric grid should be modernized. The nation’s antiquated transmission lines leak electricity, which means more coal used to power
electric plants is required. “Of all fossil fuels, coal puts out the most carbon dioxide per unit of energy, so burning it poses a further threat to global climate, already warming alarmingly” (Appenzeller, 2017) Also, coal burning power plants should be replaced with hydro-electric or
even nuclear power as a bridge to future technologies (Cho 2017). We should emphasize and subsidize renewable energy and stop deforestation as well as encourage the recycling of wood and the replanting of forests around the globe. Before methane by the billions of tons leaks from the arctic due to human negligence, reduce methane leaks from storage tanks, pipelines, coal mines and garbage dumps so that the arctic ice won’t all melt away in the first place (10 Solutions,2018).
Nations must act and act with great urgency, in order to address this tremendously important issue in our modern world. Today, the United States is accountable for 1/4 of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. (Ruddiman, 2018) But unfortunately, the second leading polluter, the U.S., ignored the Kyoto Treaty and exited from the Paris Agreement in a controversial fashion just earlier this year. The Paris Agreement was an agreement dealing with greenhouse gas emission mitigation, adaption, and financial planning that was set to start in 2020. (Morgan, 2018) The overall nature of this agreement was built around potentially fostering more creative and efficient ways to both combat the effects of global climate change as a whole and provide measures to ensure the issues that have catalyzed them don’t progress further in future generations.
Despite the overall universal acceptance of the Paris Agreement and what it entails from all other countries present at the convention, the U.S. Chose to exit this agreement because the president doesn’t believe in climate change. This is a considerable issue given the nature of the United States’ role as a primary climate change facilitator and an integral attribute of both the global economy and of global conservation efforts. In fact, among the nations involved, the United States became the only country to not sign the agreement. (Morgan, 2018) Since the agreement, President Trump and his administration have remained steadfast in the resolve to continue propagating and pursuing agreements that are conducive for oil and gas companies at the expense of the climate preservation. In order to ensure that the issues that have been predicted regarding climate change, this requires international attention from all nations and cooperation from everyone.
Global warming is a serious concern for all people and it needs to be treated as such, especially in the United States due both to the involvement of the country in facilitating worse climate conditions and due to the severity of the consequences should we stop paying attention to the issue. As predicted by the National Snow and Ice Data Center, if the glacial sheet in West Antarctica destabilizes, it could contribute to fourteen feet of sea level rises in the United States, as opposed to the eleven feet that are predicted to occur elsewhere in the globe. (Wagner, 2017) While it can be said that the international pushback can assuredly change the direction that global warming has taken and the means through which this can affect the planet as a whole, not having the express assistance of a country like the United States can be tremendously detrimental in general.
The ability to facilitate better practices can be achieved without the express help of the Trump administration, but the country’s efforts as a whole will be significantly improved with the president’s compliance on the issue. People can also be proactive in combating global warming in doing things in our everyday lives and this in itself can help to ensure that the issue is significantly reduced going forward, even despite the lack of help from governments and institutions across the world. Doing things such as installing solar panels, choosing to insulate homes more efficiently, driving electric cars, or recycling all have the ability to reduce the impact humans have had.
Using renewable energy, like solar and wind energy, provide electricity without giving rise to any carbon dioxide emissions. Instead of depending on non-renewable resources, we should adopt the renewal energy resources we have around us in to our daily life. It may not seem like it would help a lot, but doing these things can make huge difference. There are many solutions that can be done to help put an end to this serious issue of global warming. This problem is primarily caused by humans and must be solved by humans, given that we are the only species on the planet capable of undoing the damage that has previously been done.
The overall nature of climate change is a terrifying one, given that it affects essentially all life on the planet and has the capacity to entirely undo all progress that humanity has made. The implications of global warming are tremendous, and if there isn’t something done about these issues pertaining to the changes in the climate, then it could mean potentially devastating effects for countries all across the globe for generations to come. Despite the universal acceptance of climate change and its consequences, countries such as the United States have been resistant to the attempts to expand more on regulations and systems to defend against the development of climate change as a whole. In order to surmount this issue, all of the major countries on the planet need to come together and build a strategy based on communication, research, analysis, collaboration and empathy to guarantee that this problem is remedied and addressed accordingly.
- Morgan, Jennifer (2018). “The Paris Agreement: Turning Point for a Climate Solution”. World Resources Institute. p. 116.
- Ruddiman, William F. (2018). Plows, plagues, and petroleum: how humans took control of climate. Princeton University Press. p. 388.
- Wagner, Frederic H., ed. (2017). Climate Change in Western North America: Evidence and Environmental Effects. p. 210.