Humans are causing global warming, both in terms of contributing to increasing temperatures and reducing the planet’s natural absorption of heat. We are endangering life on this planet as we continue to spew large amounts of incessant emissions and gases into the atmosphere. In addition to the known effects of global warming, this irresponsible and dangerous behavior can also have unforeseen, detrimental impacts on the planet’s ecosystem.
Humans are contributing to global warming mostly by burning fossil fuels and releasing a barrage of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. These gases trap the naturally occurring infrared energy emitted by the sun, causing the planet’s temperature to warm. Here, there are two main sources of the greenhouse gas emissions. The first, and most prominent, is energy generation, particularly the burning of coal, oil and gas. Industrial processes are also quite polluting, producing a large amount of gases such as carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide. These two sources together were responsible for 54% of all worldwide carbon dioxide emissions in 2010.
The second principal thing to note is that the planet absorbs and emits an approximately equal amount of energy at any given time, meaning that if one factor is increased, the other must decrease. This is why an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere leads to an increase in heat. As we release more emissions, the absorption rate of the Earth decreases, meaning that more heat will be left in the atmosphere. This is why temperatures are rising.
Over the years, temperatures have increased drastically, causing unpredictable weather conditions such as heatwaves, hurricanes, drought and floods. This can potentially lead to crop failure, animal extinction, displacement of humans and economic damage. The evidence of global warming is unequivocal and the seriousness of it cannot be understated. We know that it is our own irresponsible behavior that is causing the problem and that we must change our ways.
To curb global warming, we must look to both mitigating and adapting to the changes we have caused. Mitigation involves reducing our output of greenhouse gases, while also increasing carbon removal practices such as reforestation, soil carbon sequestration and biochar. We also need to transition to renewable sources of energy as soon as possible, phasing out fossil fuel usage entirely. On the adaptation side, we must be prepared for the changes already underway and those that are coming, by increasing the sustainability of our cities and ecosystems, building better infrastructure and improving disaster relief.
It is not just the emissions from human activities that are trapping heat, but also land-use practices such as deforestation and urban development. As forests are cleared for agriculture, housing and industry, large amounts of carbon dioxide are being released into the atmosphere. Therefore, protection of forests and reforestation projects are also essential for mitigating global warming.
Finally, the most important thing we can do is to reduce the amount of pollution we are creating. We must increase our energy efficiency, reduce our reliance on inefficient products and upgrade to more efficient ones. Additionally, we must be mindful of our consumption habits, choosing to buy only sustainable and renewable energy sources, and avoiding single-use and disposable items as much as possible. This is critical to slowing and reversing global warming.
In conclusion, global warming is a very real and pressing issue that, if left unaddressed, could eventually lead to widespread destruction and even the extinction of our species. We must recognize our role in causing this issue and take the necessary steps to mitigate the harm we have already caused and the potential damage that could come from further unsustainable behavior.