Today the world is reeling under the pressure of changing weather conditions and its effects on our environment. Every change in the weather and every natural catastrophe is blamed on global warming. To begin with, we need to understand what this term entails and then, make a collective effort to solve the problem.
Global warming is an average increase in the temperature of the Earth's atmosphere. But how and why these temperature rises happen pose the real challenge for us. Scientists have derived answers to these questions to help us understand this phenomenon better.
What is Global Warming?
A simple analogy: Suppose you live in a polar region in an igloo, you make a fire to keep yourself warm. Soon, the place is warm and cozy, and you increase the flame for more warmth. Then, the ice around you begins to melt, and slowly, over a period of time, your house, the igloo, is lost. This is how global warming works, only, the igloo here is the earth.
It is not just the fire that heats up the Earth, but a lot of other things too. In over a hundred years, the temperature of the Earth has risen by a few degrees each year. Many climate scientists believe, inhabitants of the Earth are responsible for heating up the planet. The global increase in the temperature of the Earth consequently affects the cumulative atmosphere.
Causes of Global Warming
If your house is on fire without any room for ventilation, it'll lead to suffocation. The same scenario occurs in case of the earth - it is trapped in 'greenhouse gases'. The combination of molecules in the atmosphere, which is made up of water vapor, methane, ozone, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide, are called greenhouse gases. They trap the heat from the sunrays and prevent the planet below from heating up.
When the balance of 'greenhouse gases' gets shaken, the heat seeps down to the Earth. This leads to rise of temperature. Additionally, the continuous burning of fossil fuels, like oil and coal, gases like carbon dioxide and methane get trapped high in the atmosphere. These gases make a huge dome over the Earth, which reverts some outgoing radiation.
Since the industrial revolution in the 18th century, the temperature rise has only worsened. The increase in the number of car engines has only added to the carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. Wanton deforestation, is another reason for global warming, as there's a huge source of oxygen that gets depleted. Naturally, the living conditions on Earth have only gotten deplorable.
Is it Getting Worse?
With all the fossil fuels we burn and the trees we cut down, global warming is only getting worse day by day. About 80% of the energy is derived from fossil fuels. It's unfortunate that we have become completely dependent on machines and fuels to run our lives.
The energy consumption has been on the rise as the population is rising. If the rate at which we consume energy today remains the same, then by 2030, we are likely to consume additional 71% energy. Thus, if we continue to use and abuse the energy deposits of the Earth, then the problem is only going to aggravate.
Global Warming Effects
The overall climate has been affected severely due to global warming. The Earth keeps its own record of very slow, but real climate change. The extracted ice cores determine the age of the ice sheets and the amount of carbon dioxide they contain. The fact that the world is getting hotter shows that climate change is real.
A true phenomenon of climate change is melting ice caps and rising sea levels. The drying out of water bodies, bush fires, extinction of certain species, etc., are all effects of global warming.
Solutions at Individual Levels
Making small efforts to save and preserve water can prove to be beneficial. So, do remember to turn off the tap in between brushing your teeth when you are not using water, if a tap is leaking, put a bucket under it, and avoid washing clothes unnecessarily. The most important thing to do is plant trees. Preserving and creating a green cover for our planet will go a long way in saving it.
Simple amendments at very individual levels can help in reducing global warming. Conserving energy by making conscious use of electricity is a small start that can make a big difference. Switch off the lights every time you leave the room, avoid using air conditioners wherever possible, play outdoors instead of playing on computers and TVs, and read books as opposed to watching TV.
Global warming and the greenhouse effect are making our planet hotter and hotter. We need to stop it by making a collective effort. As the late Michael Jackson sang, 'heal the world, make it a better place, for you and for me, and the entire human race...', the time to act is now. Contributing little by little each day, like recycling, saving electricity, and conserving fossil fuels by using alternative sources of energy, can go a long way in saving our planet. After all, it's not just a planet, but our home!