Ace of Base should release their song “it’s a cruel cruel summer” again and they will probably make a huge fortune out of it. Its summer time in India, with temperatures soaring, Celsius recording as high as never before and only the ignorant would deny that Global warming is not real. Defined as an increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere, Global warming in turn affects the climate. Though it is not the first time that the earth is facing this problem, the intensity and seriousness of the issue is what distinguishes it t from the earlier episodes. In fact according to a survey by the World Meteorological Organisation, the last decade has been the warmest ever recorded (from the year 2000).
Scientists have been carrying out extensive research to understand this ‘warming’ of the Earth’s temperature. The causes of Global warming are many and the green house effect is one of the leading causes of global warming. The green house effect includes gases like Carbon Dioxide, Nitrous oxide, Methane and water vapour which are heating up the Earth. These gases trap the heat to keep the earth warm but of late due to a lot of irresponsible activities of man, the production of these gases have increased tremendously and an excess of anything is usually bad. Man has even created a harmful greenhouse gas, used as a refrigerant, solvent and aerosol propellant, it is a very powerful greenhouse gas because it can trap a lot of radiations; it’s called CFC (chlorofluorocarbon). Thankfully, the concentration of CFCs is not high, so they do not lead to too much warming. This is relieving because different gases have varying capacity of absorbing heat, and CFCs have the highest capacity. Most of the green house gases are released through combustion of fossil fuels from cars, factories and electricity. Carbon Dioxide is the leading contributor to global warming, with more and more forest lands being cleared up for commercial purposes, CO2 is increasing by the day.
The most visible effect of Global Warming is the slow melting of the polar ice caps. This in turn will lead to increase in sea levels. Some scientists are speculating that such a rise in levels would submerge many of Indonesia’s tropical islands and flood low-lying areas such as Miami, New York City’s Lower Manhattan and Bangladesh. Scientists recently revealed a “lost world” of marine life off the coast of Indonesia, including 20 new species of corals, 8 species of shrimp, a technicolor fish that “flashes” bright pink, yellow, blue, and green hues and sharks that can actually “walk” on their fins. However, marine biologists warn the threats posed by global warming mean millions of other unique sea creatures may become extinct before we ever discover them. Though it seems that due to rise in sea levels the earth will get wetter, many areas would suffer severe drought, Africa will receive the worst of it. Water resources will also be affected and some reservoirs may dry up if temperature increases, especially if rainfall also decreases. Rising sea levels may pollute fresh groundwater supplies with salt water. Already so many parts of the world are going through water crisis; with increased possibility of a Water War in the world would not be too surprising in the future.
Global warming will have a major impact on agriculture. New crops would be grown in areas that are currently too cold to support them. However, more pests and diseases would nullify any benefits that higher temperatures seem to have for agriculture. Some countries believe that it’s because of Global Warming that Malaria has not been eradicated yet. And in the future Malaria will be able to spread it wings further in regions which are too cold now to let mosquitoes breed and thrive. One need not be a genius to realise that all this will also strain the world economy.
Though there are solutions to every problem, one inevitable fact is that we can do nothing to stop Global Warming completely, we definitely can work towards reducing the severity of the consequences. Stopping deforestation and planting more and more trees, tops the list of solutions. One should never forget that flora is a very important part of the environment. It’s the plants that release our life breath and cutting off their life span can never do us much good.
There are many simple steps that we can take as individuals and do our bit in saving the earth. Unnecessary energy and fuel consumption should be absolutely avoided, for example, switching off electrical appliances when not in use, walking for short distances instead of talking out your vehicle and wasting fuel, using buses or car pool etc. If each of us works in our own small way, things can change for the better.