Global Warming
- Largest Ever Threat to Human Kind


By

Elamurugan. B
Lecturer
Department of Management Studies
Dhanalakshmi Srinivasan Engineering College
Perambalur, Tamilnadu
 


Introduction:

In 1992,a 12 year old Canadian girl called severn Suzuki who along with 3 friends raised their money to travel thousands of miles to 1992 earth summit in Rio where she made heart wrenching speech. She said she had come to Rio,"to tell you adults you must change your ways. Coming here today, I have no hidden agenda. I am fighting for my future".

"I am only a child and I don't have all the solutions, but I want you to realize, neither do you. You don't know how to fix the holes in our ozone layer, you don't know how to bring back up a dead stream; you don't extinct; and you can't bring back forests that once grew where there is now desert. If you don't know how to fix it. Please stop breaking it!"

Her plaintive cry 17 years ago has largely gone unheard. So far the world's response to climate change has been inadequate and uneven. The accumulation of green house gases (GHG) in the atmosphere resulting in a rise in the earth's overall surface temperatures is known as global warming.

Scientists have now established that if global temperatures rise by more than 2 degree centigrade, the resultant changes could irretrievably endanger life on this planet. The average facade temperature of the globe has augmented more than 1 degree Fahrenheit since 1900 and the speed of warming has been almost three folds the century long average since 1970.  More or less all specialists studying the climate record of the earth have the same opinion now that human actions, mainly the discharge of green house gases from smokestacks, vehicles, and burning forests, are perhaps the leading power driving the fashion.

Based on the study on past climate shifts, notes of current situations, and computer simulations, many climate scientists say that lacking of big curbs in greenhouse gas discharges, the 21st century might see temperatures rise of about 3 to 8 degrees, climate patterns piercingly shift, ice sheets contract and seas rise several feet. With the probable exemption of one more world war, a huge asteroid, or a fatal plague, global warming may be the only most danger to our planet earth.

Green house gases (GHG) and what they do:

1. Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels have increased significantly since industrialization, through the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

2. Methane (CH4) tonne for tonne , methane is 30 times more damaging to atmosphere than CO2 . Produced through agriculture – burping cows and rotting vegetables.

3. Nitrous oxide (N2O). Emitted by animal manure, synthetic fertilizers and some industrial processes such as the production of nylon.

4. Hydrofluoro carbons (HFCs).widely used in air-conditioning and refrigeration

5. Perfluoro carbons (PFCs). Primary released through aluminum production and semiconductor manufacture.

6. Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). Is used in small quantities in various industrial and electrical processes such as the manufacture of circuit breakers.

7. Water vapour (H2O) gaseous water is the single largest contributor to the green house effect, human activity has little impact on its.

Global Warming Causes

As said, the major cause of global warming is the emission of green house gases like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide etc into the atmosphere. The major source of carbon dioxide is the power plants. These power plants emit large amounts of carbon dioxide produced from burning of fossil fuels for the purpose of electricity generation. About twenty percent of carbon dioxide emitted in the atmosphere comes from burning of gasoline in the engines of the vehicles. This is true for most of the developed countries. Buildings, both commercial and residential represent a larger source of global warming pollution than cars and trucks.

Building of these structures requires a lot of fuel to be burnt which emits a large amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Methane is more than 20 times as effectual as CO2 at entrapping heat in the atmosphere. Methane is obtained from resources such as rice paddies, bovine flatulence, bacteria in bogs and fossil fuel manufacture. When fields are flooded, anaerobic situation build up and the organic matter in the soil decays, releasing methane to the atmosphere. The main sources of nitrous oxide include nylon and nitric acid production, cars with catalytic converters, the use of fertilizers in agriculture and the burning of organic matter. Another cause of global warming is deforestation that is caused by cutting and burning of forests for the purpose of residence and industrialization.


Global Warming is Inspiring Scientists to Fight for Awareness

Scientists all over the world are making predictions about the ill effects of Global warming and connecting some of the events that have taken place in the pat few decades as an alarm of global warming. The effect of global warming is increasing the average temperature of the earth. A rise in earth's temperatures can in turn root to other alterations in the ecology, including an increasing sea level and modifying the quantity and pattern of rainfall. These modifications may boost the occurrence and concentration of severe climate events, such as floods, famines, heat waves, tornados, and twisters.

Other consequences may comprise of higher or lower agricultural outputs, glacier melting, lesser summer stream flows, genus extinctions and rise in the ranges of disease vectors. As an effect of global warming species like golden toad, harlequin frog of Costa Rica has already become extinct. There are number of species that have a threat of disappearing soon as an effect of global warming. As an effect of global warming various new diseases have emerged lately. These diseases are occurring frequently due to the increase in earths average temperature since the bacteria can survive better in elevated temperatures and even multiplies faster when the conditions are favorable.

The global warming is extending the distribution of mosquitoes due to the increase in humidity levels and their frequent growth in warmer atmosphere. Various diseases due to ebola, hanta and machupo virus are expected due to warmer climates. The marine life is also very sensitive to the increase in temperatures. The effect of global warming will definitely be seen on some species in the water. A survey was made in which the marine life reacted significantly to the changes in water temperatures. It is expected that many species will die off or become extinct due to the increase in the temperatures of the water, whereas various other species, which prefer warmer waters, will increase tremendously. Perhaps the most disturbing changes are expected in the coral reefs that are expected to die off as an effect of global warming. The global warming is expected to cause irreversible changes in the ecosystem and the behavior of animals.

A group of scientists have recently reported on the surprisingly speedy rise in the discharge of carbon and methane release from frozen tundra in Siberia, now starting to melt because of human cause increases in earth's temperature. The scientists tell us that the tundra is in danger of melting holds an amount of extra global warming pollution that is equivalent to the net amount that is previously in the earth's atmosphere. Likewise, earlier one more team of scientists reported that the in a single year Greenland witnessed 32 glacial earthquakes between 4.6 and 5.1 on the Richter scale. This is a disturbing sign and points that a huge destabilization that may now be in progress deep within the second biggest accretion of ice on the planet. This ice would be enough to raise sea level 20 feet worldwide if it broke up and slipped into the sea. Each day passing brings yet new proof that we are now in front of a global emergency, a climate emergency that needs instant action to piercingly decrease carbon dioxide emissions worldwide in order to turn down the earth's rising temperatures and avoid any catastrophe.

It is not easy to attach any particular events to global warming, but studies prove the fact that human activities are increasing the earth's temperature. Even though most predictions focus on the epoch up to 2100, even if no further greenhouse gases were discharged after this date, global warming and sea level would be likely to go on to rise for more than a millennium, since carbon dioxide has a long average atmospheric life span.

The global warming has led to increase in mean earth surface temperature and thus melting of polar ice. There are frequent melt down of glaciers that result in floods and other natural calamities. The melting of ice at the poles had led the mean sea level. And further increase in temperature may further melt the ice and lead to further increase in mean sea level, which will engulf low lying countries.

The effect of global warming is very evident on the animal kingdom also. Some animals have become extinct due to loss of their natural habitat or their inability to evolve to the rapid changes in the climate. Also there is a change in their life style because of the changes in the seasons. The migrating birds have changed their time of travel and also their place of migration.

T he effect of global warming can be felt on seasons too. There is shift in season cycle, as the summers are getting longer than the winters. This has affected the animals and made them to change their lifestyle accordingly, and those who failed to do so have perished or on the verge of extinction.

The global warming is also responsible for the introduction of some new diseases. The bacteria are more effective and multiply much faster in warmer temperatures compared to cold temperatures. The increase in temperature has led to increase in the microbes that cause diseases.

Global warming is also effecting the crop production, as the crops are getting destroyed by the sudden change in temperatures or sudden on set of rains. Also the flash floods and other natural calamities affect the crop.

As a matter of fact, because of global warming, the earth's atmosphere is getting more unpredictable with heavy rains in the areas, which have scanty rainfall or drought in the areas, which received good annual rainfall. The months of rainfall has also getting affected.

Some Notable Consequences of Global Warming

* Warmer temperatures could increase the probability of drought. Greater evaporation, particularly during summer and fall, could exacerbate drought conditions and increase the risk of wildfires.

* Warmer temperatures increase the energy of the climatic system and can lead to heavier rainfall in some areas.

* Hotter weather enables deadly mosquitoes to travel greater distances; carbon dioxide in the air aggravates asthma and allergies.

* More frequent and severe heat waves will result in a greater number of heat-related deaths.

* Global warming could increase smog pollution in some areas and intensify pollen allergies and asthma. Hotter conditions could also aggravate local air quality problems

* Warming temperatures, alternating periods of drought and deluges, and ecosystem disruption have contributed to more widespread outbreaks of infections like malaria, dengue fever, tick-borne encephalitis and diarrheal illnesses. People living in poverty will be hardest hit by the global surge in infectious diseases.

* A warmer atmosphere can hold -- and dump -- more moisture, contributing to more intense extreme weather events, which in turn put people's lives at risk.

* Rising temperatures ravage coral reefs and melt the habitats of polar bears and Antarctic penguins.

* Increasing global temperatures are expected to disrupt ecosystems, pushing to extinction those species that cannot adapt. The first comprehensive assessment of the extinction risk from global warming found that more than 1 million species could be obliterated by 2050 if the current trajectory continues.

* Arctic summers could be ice-free by 2040, and sea levels could rise as much as 23 inches by 2100 if current warming patterns continue.

* Rising global temperatures will speed the melting of glaciers and ice caps and cause early ice thaw on rivers and lakes.

* When carbon dioxide which is emitted by human activities dissolves in water, it produces a mildly acidic compound called carbonic acid that's potentially lethal to several organisms that live in the ocean.

* With changing weather patterns, the IPCC report says that more than 4.6 crore people across India could go hungry by 2020.

* There are many signs that a particular season is changing. Birds and mammals rely on these signals both in terms of change in temperature and on other factors like length of day is forced to migrate to any other places where they found ideal conditions.

* Experts warn that climate wars between neighbours countries could be a possibility. For instance tribes in Kenya and sudan have been pushed to warfare by competition for disappearing water and pasture.

* An individual country must spend more amounts toward combating global warming in the future is not good for the economic health of a country.

* Water table will go below the standard which will create severe water crises by 2020.for instance in Chennai the water table, which was just 30 feet below the ground in 1960, is now at 1350 feet.

The dirty dozen

Country 

Leader 

CO2 emissions  

Rank 

Per capita emissions

 What They say 

USA 

Barack Obama 

5,902

2

19.78

Refused to ratify Kyoto Protocol; has blocked all efforts at Copenhagen, now offers meagre cuts. 

AUSTRALIA 

Kevin Rudd 

417 

16 

20.58 

Ratified the Protocol only in 2007; since then has worked to undermine it and wants a new treaty. 

JAPAN 

Yukio Hatoyama 

1,246 

9.78

Failed to meet 1990 commitments and was a footdragger till Hatoyama said 25% cuts in emissions.

CANADA 

Stephen Harper 

614 

18.81 

Instead of cutting emissions, they increased by 30% since 1990, now wants to scuttle Kyoto. 

FRANCE 

Nicolas Sarkozy 

417 

15 

6.60 

Pushing for trade sanctions against developing countries who don't fall in line on emission cuts. 

GERMANY 

Angela Merkel 

857 

10.40 

Failed to pull its weight and convince US not to be a deal-breaker; emissions have started rising. 

UK 

Gordon Brown 

585 

9.66 

Promised much, including funds for poor countries. Hasn't delivered on them; emissions continue to rise. 

RUSSIA 

Dmitry Medvedev 

1,704 

12 

Got away lightly on the Protocol because of forests, still to clean up on carbon emissions front. 

SAUDI ARABIA 

King Abdullah 

424 

14 

15.70 

Have played double game by ensuring oil prices stay low enough to thwart alternate fuel technologies. 

ITALY 

Silvio Berlusconi 

468 

11 

8.05 

Its emissions rose sharply and it is proving to be the bad boy of Europe, unwilling to commit anything. 

CHINA 

Hu Jintao 

6,017 

4.58 

Taking shelter behind developing countries, China's emissions have exploded; offers cuts only now. 

INDIA 

Manmohan Singh 

1,293 

1.16 

Per capita emissions are 18 times lower than the US, have offered cuts but wants finance from West. 


Source: India today magazine dated January 2010

What global warming skeptics say?

But there are some people on the other side of the wall also, they believe that the Global warming is a natural process and cannot disturb our ecosystem. The earth's surface mean temperature was even higher a long time ago, and the ecosystem has evolved from that temperature to this. So it can evolve further. But the changes that are happening now are rather fast compared to earlier times.

Solar panel is best applied to a flat solar thermal collector, such as a solar hot water or air panel used to heat water, air, or otherwise collect solar thermal energy. But 'solar panel' may also refer to a photovoltaic module which is an assembly of solar cells used to generate electricity. In all cases, the panels are typically flat, and are available in various heights and widths.

An array is an assembly of solar-thermal panels or photovoltaic (PV) modules; the panels can be connected either in parallel or series depending upon the design objective. Solar panels typically find use in residential, commercial, institutional, and light industrial applications.

Solar-thermal panels saw widespread use in Florida and California until the 1920's when tank-type water heaters replaced them. A thriving manufacturing business died seemingly overnight. However, solar-thermal panels are still in production, and are common in portions of the world where energy costs, and solar energy availability, are high.

Recently there has been a surge toward large scale production of PV modules. In parts of the world with significantly high insulation levels, PV output and their economics are enhanced. PV modules are the primary component of most small-scale solar-electric power generating facilities. Larger facilities, such as solar power plants typically contain an array of reflectors (concentrators), a receiver, and a thermodynamic power cycle, and thus use solar-thermal rather than PV.

The largest solar panel in the world is under construction in the south of Portugal. A 52,000 photovoltaic module, 11-megawatt facility covering a 60-hectare south-facing hillside in the southern Alentejo region and it will produce electricity for 21,000 households.

Alternative fuel (alternate fuel), also known as non-conventional fuels, is any material or substance that can be used as a fuel, other than fossil fuels, or conventional fuels of petroleum (oil), coal, propane, hydrogen, and natural gas. The term "alternative fuels" usually refers to a source of which energy is renewable.

The main purpose of fuel is to store energy in a form that is stable and can be easily transported from the place of production to the end user. Almost all fuels are chemical fuels that store chemical potential energy. The end user is then able to consume the fuel at will, and release energy, usually in the form of heat for a variety of applications, such as powering an engine, or heating a building.

Some well knew alternative fuels include biodiesel, ethanol, butanol, chemically stored electricity (batteries and fuel cells), hydrogen, methane, natural gas, wood, vegetable oil, biomass, and peanut oil.

In the year 2000, there were about eight million vehicles around the world that ran on alternative fuels, indicating the increasing popularity of alternative fuels {citation needed}. There is growing social interest, and an economic and political need for the development of alternative fuel sources. This is due to general concerns of sustainability, environmental, economic, and geopolitical.

A primary concern is that the fact that the use of conventional fuels directly contributes to the global warming crisis. Another concern is the problem of peak oil, which predicts a rising cost of oil derived fuels caused by severe shortages of oil during an era of growing energy consumption. According to the 'peak oil' phenomenon, the demand for oil will exceed supply and this gap will continue to grow, which could cause a growing energy crisis by the year 2010 or 2020. Lastly, the majority of the known petroleum reserves are located in the Middle East. There is general concern that worldwide fuel shortages could intensify the unrest that exists in the region, leading to further conflict and war.

Ways to make the difference (personal contribution)

The decisions taken at Copenhagen summit may or may not alter the worsening situation, but if we are able to think ahead and put mother earth ahead of us, for the posterity, we will have the satisfaction of doing our bit. For that, we will have to think of human beings and living beings first.

Wondering how you can contribute to the greening of India? Or what the country should be doing to save the earth? A survivor's guide to global warming

* Forests are one of the most effective carbon sinks and critical for ecological balance. You can do your own bit by planting tree in your garden. (18 trees for an individual for a year).

* If you are looking to buy a new car then opt for an electric powered vehicle.

* The principle option for reducing energy use in cities is to ensure that mass transportation is efficient, comfortable and reasonable.

* India should collaborate with major countries to build numerous solar power, wind power and nuclear power plants across the countries.

* Switched to CFLs which use one-third of the power than conventional bulbs.

* One of the best ways to bring down emission levels is to levy a carbon tax based on consumption.

* Instead of concrete compound walls there is a rising trend of having fences by growing bamboo trees.

* Community biogas plants should be back in villages which use cow dung and human waste for cooking gas and for lighting.

* Used household water from baths, sinks and showers can be recycled and used domestically in washing machines, to water gardens and flushing (grey water).

* Eco-friendly buildings are need of the hour.

* Remember to carry your cloth bags with you when you go for shopping.

* It is best to switch off your computer if you do not plan to use it for a few hours (also in TV).

* Ban western wear for men. Instead lungi and dhotis can be adopted.

* Walking a Km or more instead of using Two wheeler or car.

* Instead of penning down your thoughts on paper made from felling trees, try G (green) mails.

* Wash your clothes in warm or cold water to reduce your use of hot water. That change alone can save at least 550 pounds of carbon dioxide annually in most homes.

* Toilets account for 26.7% of water consumption in homes. Replacing your bathroom ware with more efficient models could save thousands of gallons of water annually.

* If a train or other barrier will block your vehicle for more than 30 seconds, turn off the engine. Idling burns more fuel than a simple restart.

* A fan helps try to prepare foods that require the least amount of cooking as possible and use a microwave where you can. Ensure your range hood exhaust fan is switched on while cooking.

* Instead of buying air fresheners from the shop, try boiling cloves, cinnamon or any other herbs you like . any green leaf plant is good for filtering indoor air.

Conclusion

The U.N secretary general, Ban ki-moon, goes without food for one day, because he cares for the hungry. How about you and me. The above list could go on…but the question is whether we can. If you cannot, do not participate in the go- green campaign by giving SMS or emails. If you cannot, do not participate in a public debate on environment. If you cannot, don't tell your children you care for them. Are we ready to sacrifice smaller pleasures?

The problem of global warming is slow and serious; it is like the story of a frog in water that is being heated slowly. The frog won't realize that the water temperature is increasing dangerously, it will adapt if the temperature is increasing slowly enough. But it will die when the water boils. That is what is likely to happen.

Should we do? If one person moves nothing happens, but if a billion people act, the earth will move in the right direction! Come, let us try.

Every one think that containing global warming is the responsibility of respective governments but in reality each and every individual can contribute up to the mark in containing the green house gases and at the same time they can make the world safer for the future generations

"Join the Fight against Global warming and help spread awareness of the issues at hand".

References:

narendar; global warming Bloomsbery;London,2009

Prakash,G.P. and  Prakash,Agam. Development of better world, Sikshamitra, vol.3, 2009, 35-38

A.Fisher,"success secret: in containing climate change". Reprinted from October 26,2009

"India today" magazine cover page January 2010

http://www.eoearth.org

http://www.help.plant-trees.org

http://www.globalwarming.org.in

http://www.worldviewofglobalwarming.org

http://www.nrdc.org

http://www.stopglobalwarming.org
 


Elamurugan. B
Lecturer
Department of Management Studies
Dhanalakshmi Srinivasan Engineering College
Perambalur, Tamilnadu
 

Source: E-mail March 30, 2010

          

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