Now more than ever, humankind is concerned about the effects of global warming on our planet. As temperatures steadily increase year-by-year, climate change and its consequences are becoming unavoidable. There are several factors contributing to the trend of global warming, such as the use of human-produced fossil fuels and the release of methane. But why exactly is global warming so prolific, and what can we do to stop it?
The use of renewable and non-renewable energy sources creates a significant amount of pollution and greenhouse gases which can trap heat in the atmosphere. This process, known as the ‘greenhouse effect’, is one of the leading causes of global warming. Fossil fuels, such as coal and petroleum, which are used to create electricity, and their associated emissions, are the main contributors. The burning of these fuels releases a combination of gases including carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, trapping heat in the atmosphere and tempering weather patterns.
Deforestation is also having an impact on the temperature of the globe. Trees are a crucial part of the eco-system, providing oxygen, and when they are cut down the natural balance is disrupted. As trees and plants are decomposing, carbon that is stored within them is released into the atmosphere, creating the same increasing temperatures. This process is exacerbated by the rise in animal agriculture, as livestock produce large amounts of methane gas.
The effects of these activities can already be observed on a global scale, with measurements showing a steady increase in surface temperatures since the 19th century. Glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, while sea levels are steadily increasing. Heatwaves and extreme weather have become increasingly common in recent years, while the spread of disease is being exacerbated by changing climatic conditions.
In response to this global phenomenon, individuals, organizations and governments are being called upon to take action. Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, increasing energy efficiency and embracing renewable sources such as solar, hydro and wind power can be a game-changer. For those wishing to take further action, the conservation of forests, the protection of nature reserves, and the planting of trees are essential measures. Changes need to be made at an individual level too, such as reducing meat consumption, using public transportation, using energy-efficient appliances and, perhaps most important of all, changing our attitudes and behaviours.
Despite these potential solutions, global warming remains an urgent and complex problem, as climatesshift faster than we can adjust. All of us have a role to play inprotecting our planet, and it is our duty to ensure that the next generations have an opportunity to live on a world that is healthy and sustainable. We must support the efforts of those combating climate change, both financially and through increased public awareness, whilst continuing to push for greater environmental responsibilities from policymakers and governments.