In recent times, the earth has been experiencing global warming and a resultant climate change. In view of this, a Global Warming and Climate Change contest was be organized by @upmewhale. This post then serves as my entry to the contest. It covers the nature, causes and effects of global warming and climate change on the earth.
Climate change and global warming are phenomena of great concerns as they have to do with the environment and surrounding we live in. It is worthy of note that the duo are not actually the same thing although both have been used interchangeably in many instances; in fact they mean and represent different things though related to each other. More so, their respective effects and impacts are detrimental to humans, plants and even animals.
Day by day, global warming and climate change keeps increasing and this is mainly as a result of human activities and technological inventions. It should be noted that these inventions are not actually bad as the aid in improving the standard and quality of living. However, they become somewhat disadvantaging when they work adversely against the environment. It is on this premise that there is a high necessity to set up and implement measures that will help reduce or curb global warming and climate change to a minimal level.
What is Global Warming and Climate Change?
Global warming could be said to be a sustained rise or increase in the average temperature of the earth which is sufficient enough to lead to climate change. It grossly involves the variability in the temperature of the earth and this change in temperature could be for a long period of time. It further entails the depletion of the ozone layer caused by greenhouse effects. The greenhouse gases mainly include carbon dioxide (CO2), Nitrogen (N2), Methane (CH4). water vapour etc. Simply put, global warming is an aspect of climate changeRef..
On the other hand, climate change refers to the changes experienced in the climatic conditions of the earth over an extended period of time. Climate change is more like the resultant effect of global warming as it involves all the effects of the greenhouse gases. These changes in the climatic conditions may result in new weather patterns such as change in precipitation.
But, more accurately, global warming is mainly the human-caused increase in global surface temperatures and its projected continuation, while climate change includes both global warming and its effects, such as changes in precipitation. Ref.
What brings about Global Warming and Climate Change?
Researches and studies have clearly shown and proven that global warming is mainly caused by human activities and inventions. Meaning that we are the major agents of global warming and climate change. From the foregoing, one can say that if human activities are being monitored and controlled properly, then global warming could be minimized, if possible, eradicated. It is still this human activities that results in the climate changes being experienced.
Speaking of human activities, it is mainly the release of toxic gases commonly called greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases are mainly carbon, nitrogen, Methane and water vapour. These gases affect the atmosphere and the ozone layer adversely. Hence, its release should be controlled and monitored.
The ozone layer serves as a covering and protection for the earth. It particularly helps in reducing the effect and intensity of the sun on the earth. The energy and heat from the sun is really massive and intense. Imagine this high intensity of heat being directly channelled to the earth, it could lead to fatal effects on plants, animals and humans and we do not want this.
However, when these greenhouse gases are being released into the atmosphere either via gas flaring by oil and gas industries, carbon emissions from industrial and power plants, power generating sets, vehicles, deforestation, bush burning, fossil fuel combustion etc, they tend to deplete the ozone layer creating passage for the ultraviolet rays to directly hit the earth. This then leads to an increase in the surface temperature and climatic conditions of the earth which is referred to as global warming and climate change.
Global Warming and Climate Change Preventions and Remedies
Preventive measures has always been better than curative or corrective ones. In order to prevent and reduce the rate of global warming and climate change in the earth, the agents and means of emitting greenhouse gases should be controlled and monitored adequately. To start with, petroleum industries all over the world should cease the flaring of gas. Government should place a high fine on companies that still do so because gas flaring is a major contributor to this menace.
Also, oil and gas companies should develop means of recycling or disposing this unwanted gases and not resort to flaring. Underground gas storage could be useful or these gases could be channelled to serve as a secondary drive mechanism in oil reservoirs where the natural drive is proving insufficient. This could help in minimizing global warming.
Also, alternate energy sources should be maximized and developed so as to reduce the use of oil and gas fuels considering the fact that this energy source causes pollutions as well as poses serious threats to the environment. Deforestation should be kicked against as trees also help in absorbing the heat from the sun. Waste should be recycled rather than being burnt as combustion also releases carbon to the atmosphere.
Impacts of Global Warming and Climate Change
From my point of view, global warming and climate change has no positive impact. The negative impacts and effects of global warming and climate change can be underestimated. Their effects cut across the environment, human life, animals and plants.
Effects on the Environment
Global warming and climate change has a numerous adverse effects on the environment and surrounding. It could lead to the destruction of habitats that is, extinction of species, biodiversity loss, collapse of ecosystems etc.
It may also cause desertification and fresh water loss, ice sheet melt, glacial retreat, fish stock decline, coral bleaching, coastal submersion, rise of sea levels etc. For instance, aquatic lives and other terrestrial animals tend to be wiped out completely in cases of acid rain (ocean acidification). Soils are also being affected causing loss of nutrients and death of plants. These and many more are all results and impacts of global warming.
Furthermore, global warming could still cause the intensification of some fatal weather events such as wildfires, hurricanes, floodings, droughts, heat waves etc. In recent years, we have heard of and seen the aftermath of these extreme weather events and it is usually highly destructive.
Effect on Humans
Global warming could affect us directly in more than one ways. One of such ways is the loss of farmlands and failure of crops and plants. Taking Africa as an example, particularly my country Nigeria where both commercial and subsistence farming are being practiced, people (farmers) stand the chance of losing their businesses and experiencing food shortages when the soils and crops are being contaminated and rendered unproductive as a result of climate change/ warming; could be as a result of excessive heat and temperature or acid rain.
Another effect is human migration and conflict. Let's say, flooding takes place, many could lose their homes and would be forced to migrate to other locations. Farmlands and structures could as well be lost. Human health could also be affected grossly in the face of climate change; both air and land would be polluted.
Source - The average annual temperature at the earth's surface has risen since the late 1800s, with year-to-year variations (shown in black) being smoothed out (shown in red) to show the general warming trend
Global Warming and Climate Change Contributors - Each Country's Share of Carbon dioxide (CO2) Emission
Carbon and greenhouse gases emission differ for different countries and nations in the world depending on their level of development and advancements in technology. All developed countries in the world have a greater percentage and contribution to global warming and climate change.
In the past few years, China has been rated as number one in carbon emissions. Other major contributors to global warming include the United States of America, Germany, Russian Federation, Saud Arabia, Canada, India, Japan, France etc Ref.
The developing and under-developed nations are also responsible for global warming but not as the developed counterparts. This is so because these developed nations utilize more energy than the under-developed nations thus the emit more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Global warming and climate change do have negative impacts on the earth. Hence, it is pertinent that we try to prevent and control it by monitoring activities at homes, industries and companies. There is a high need for Environmental Impact Assessment to frequently check our environments so as to help it save it for this menace. Governments should do well to place bans on activities that would enhance global warming such as gas flaring. Cleaner energy sources such as solar energy should be adopted, enhanced and utilized so as to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. When these and other control measures are being set in place, global warming would be reduced and we would have favourable climatic conditions.