What is global warming? Why is everybody talking about global warming these days? How does saving electricity help cut down global warming? How does saving paper cut down global warming? Why is global warming a problem and even if it is, why should we care about it or take any steps to prevent global warming? If you have ever had any of these questions in your mind, read on and you will know all….
During the past 4.6 billion years, the Earth has gone through climate changes over and over. The Earth, a magma ocean at the beginning of its history, has alternately experienced ice ages and warm periods. It is currently in the slow-paced warming period that started 20,000 years ago.
A supercomputer shows that global temperature will increase by about 1 to 5 degree celsius. The temperature rise causes melting of ice caps atop mountains and glaciers in the north and south Polar Regions. This causes sea levels to rise. If the sea level rises, low-lying coastal areas and small islands will be submerged. That would severely affect people living there. It is predicted that a 5 Degree C increase in temperature would melt the complete Greenland ice sheet, resulting in 3-meter sea level rise over the next millennium. Not only that, it would raise sea level by about 7 meters if all the ice on the Earth melted completely. Just imagine what would happen if all the ice on the Earth melted?
Do you know how the Earth’s temperature rises? Sunlight heats up the ground. The heated ground emits infrared radiation. The ozone layer absorbs the ultraviolet radiation from the Sun and warms the atmosphere. Meanwhile, the air absorbs infrared radiation, warming up the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide (N2O), and chlorofluorocarbons exist in the air. These molecules effectively absorb infrared heat radiation and are called greenhouse gases. These greenhouse gases play an important role in keeping our planet at a comfortable temperature without which Earth would be a frozen, ice planet. To put it in layman terms, greenhouse gases are like a “blanket” around the Earth to keep it warm. The problem is an excessive increase of these gases which increases the heat levels as well. You could say it is like being covered by many layers of blankets. The Sun’s heat keeps coming, but the heat is trapped by several layers of blankets and cannot escape making it hotter and hotter on Earth.
Now, you may well ask that if these greenhouse gases already exist in the atmosphere, what can we do to reduce global warming. Many of the greenhouse gases are emitted by human activities. We have to try to reduce the human-originated gas emissions with our efforts and ingenuity. Given below is a pie diagram giving statistics of which activities cause emissions. By reducing emissions, global warming can be prevented.
To be continued .............................................................................
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Author of the post: Ms Jaishree Mahalingam (Associate Team Lead, Kondwa Branch)