Climate change and global warming

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Introduction

Over the years, there has been significant debate on the likelihood of increases in the concentration of carbon dioxide induced from the industries to the atmosphere, enhancing the increase of warming in the world. This Global Warming has been recognized by researchers, media, scientists and politicians as a challenge in attempts to establish its source, and on how prevention of further damage can be done to this fragile atmosphere (Xie et al, 2010). However, a significant number of equally respected researchers and members of the public seem not convinced on the need to set up strategies to reduce further damage to the environment. Instead, they have presented some arguments and passionately claimed that global warming and other related climatic changes witnessed since the industrial age are basically the results of various natural cycles in regional and global climate. However, Solomon et al (2009) argue that global warming is real and the dilemma being experienced is whether the increase in the concentration of anthropogenic carbon dioxide is the major cause of the variations in climate witnessed in the present day.  This research paper explores global warming and climate change, as well as anthropogenic carbon dioxide as one of the main causes of global warming.

Climate change and Global Warming

The concept of climate change is commonly used when talk about changes to the climate which has been recognized since the nineteenth century. It is about the growth and emissions of greenhouse gas as a result of fossil fuels generated mainly from motor transportation and industrial activities, hence building up the levels of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (Cook et al, 2013). Furthermore, this buildup of carbon dioxide is worsened by the continuous decrease of forests that absorb gases and reduce their release to the environment. Also, the rise of gases including carbon dioxide in the atmosphere also contributes to the greenhouse effect where a lot of heat is generated resulting to rise in temperatures.

The data released by United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel that addresses matters of Climate Change estimated that since the 19th century to current, the average surface temperature across the world has increased by within a range of 0.3 to 0.6 degree Celsius (Xie et al, 2010). Similarly, for the last forty years, the increase has been between 0.2 and 0.3 degree Celsius. A significant increase in temperature can initiate various events, such as the death of marine animals, ice sheets melting as well as diverse impacts on human health as well as on agriculture (Solomon et al, 2009).  The changes witnessed on climate change over the years and those projected for the coming 100 years are believed by many including researchers to majorly result from human activities and behavior rather than as a result of natural occurrences in the atmosphere.

On the other hand, global warming refers to the rise of optimum temperature of the surface of the earth (Xie et al, 2010). Activities such as deforestation, fossil fuel burning and rise in greenhouse gases contributes significantly to global warming. The projected rise of temperature for the coming years can result to floods in some parts of the world and drought in others. It is usual for temperatures in different parts of the world to be cooler sometimes for many years, and at other times to be warmer. However, the present world is characterized by a lot of human activities that ultimately generates carbon dioxide and other gases in in the atmosphere that contributes to climate change and global warming.

Anthropogenic carbon dioxide and global warming

Anthropogenic carbon dioxide, commonly known as carbon dioxide generated and released in the atmosphere as a result of human activities has contributed significantly to the rise of temperatures across the world. Approximately, 60 percent of the carbon dioxide released from burning of fossil fuels remain in the atmosphere, while only around half of the remaining is absorbed by terrestrial ecosystems and the other half by the oceans (Ramanathan and Feng, 2008). Jevrejeva, Moore and Grinsted (2012) also claim that there has been an increase on the emissions of anthropogenic greenhouse gas since the pre-industrial era. These emissions are largely driven by population and economic growth, and are currently higher than the previous years. This has resulted to higher atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide and other gases that are projected to last for many years (Leiserowitz et al, 2013). The effects of these gases, in addition to those resulting from anthropogenic activities have been identified within the climate context and are to a large extend dominant cause of warming since the 20th century.

To add on the increasing temperatures, a rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere leads to ocean acidification (Allen et al, 2009). Claims that approximately half of the carbon dioxide generated by humans has dissolved into the oceans. The absorption lowers global warming, but at the same time lowers the pH if the oceans to be more acidic. Water that is more acidic can corrode minerals that various aquatic animals depend on to build their skeletons.

According to Solomon et al (2009), the rising sea levels can also be attributed to climate change. Melting of ice sheets and glaciers results to rising sea levels and to the point that water expands when heated. In 2012, the average ocean temperature globally was approximately 0.5°C higher that of the twentieth-century (Leiserowitz et al, 2013). Sea level rising results to loss of land area including wetlands and beaches, as well as loss of forest area.  Rising temperatures may also have other impacts such as reduction in agricultural productivity in situations where the new precipitation patterns and temperatures are less than the required farmed crops.

However, other natural systems can significantly benefit from a shift in temperature. For instance, Crop yields can be higher in mid-latitude areas where there is a moderate rise in temperatures, and winter environments can be more reasonable in high or middle latitudes (Cook et al, 2013). Some researchers have even argued that the rising concentration of carbon dioxide will yield a more significant global greening even if though climate change as a whole is unlikely going to raise the general global productivity (Leiserowitz et al, 2013). Undesirable species can also gain from climate change. Higher temperatures enhance the spread of disease causing organizations that survive well in warmer environments. Warm weather conditions can also create platforms that are favors the outbreak of diseases.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Increased concentration of carbon dioxide and other related gases to the atmosphere has increased warming across the world. Although global warming can be beneficial for increasing agricultural production in areas with cold climates. For instance, ocean acidification can make the environment for aquatic animals become unfavorable. Researchers have also demonstrated that negative impacts seem to outweigh the positive outcomes that result from it hence need to regulate carbon emissions to the atmosphere. As a result, appropriate measures such as strategies to remove Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, enhancing carbon tax and appropriate policies will help regulate the amount Carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere especially carbon based products resulting from human activities.

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  1. Allen, M. R., Frame, D. J., Huntingford, C., Jones, C. D., Lowe, J. A., Meinshausen, M., & Meinshausen, N. (2009). Warming caused by cumulative carbon emissions towards the 012trillionth tonne. Nature, 458(7242), 1163-1166.
  2. Cook, J., Nuccitelli, D., Green, S. A., Richardson, M., Winkler, B., Painting, R& Skuce, A. (2013). Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature. Environmental research letters, 8(2), 024024.
  3. Jevrejeva, S., Moore, J.C & Grinsted, A (2012). “Sea Level Projections to AD2500 with a New Generation of Climate Change Scenarios.” Journal of Global and Planetary Change, 80/81: 14–20.2
  4. Leiserowitz, A., Maibach, E. W., Roser-Renouf, C., Feinberg, G., & Howe, P. (2013). Climate change in the American mind: Americans’ global warming beliefs and attitudes in April 2013.
  5. Ramanathan V, Feng Y (2008). On avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system: formidable challenges. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 105:14245–14250.-5
  6. Solomon, S., Plattner, G., Knutti, R., Friedlingstein, P., (2009). Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 106, 1704–1709-4
  7. Xie, S. P., Deser, C., Vecchi, G. A., Ma, J., Teng, H., & Wittenberg, A. T. (2010). Global warming pattern formation: Sea surface temperature and rainfall. Journal of Climate, 23(4), 966-986.-2
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