Certain amounts of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and water vapor allow the Sun to heat the planet but, at the same time, interfere with the exit of infrared radiation into space. All these gases are responsible for maintaining the temperature that is required for life on earth. However, raising concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and water vapor in atmosphere is another global environmental problem called global warming. Currently, the issue of global warming is known to every inhabitant of the Earth. Being caused by various factors, global warming affects the lives of all organisms in the world and leads to irreversible climate changes.
Global Warming and Greenhouse Effect
Global warming is a process of gradual growth of the average annual temperature of the surface layer of the Earth’s atmosphere and the World Ocean because of a number of reasons (raising concentration of greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere, a change in solar or volcanic activity, etc.). Very often, the phrase “greenhouse effect” is used as a synonym for global warming, but there is a slight difference between these concepts. The greenhouse effect is the rise of the average temperature as a result of high greenhouse gases concentration in the Earth’s atmosphere (carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor, etc.) (Goel & Bhatt, 2012, p.27). These gases play the role of a glass greenhouse. They transmit the Sun’s rays to the Earth and absorb heat leaving the planet’s atmosphere.
Causes of Global Warming
Natural philosophers still cannot definitely say what exactly provokes climate change. Many theories and hypotheses are being put forward as for the causes of global warming. It is supposed that the reason of global warming is modifications in solar activity. All climatic processes occurring on the planet are dependent on the activity of the Sun. Therefore, even the smallest shifts in solar activity will surely influence the weather and climate of the Earth (Spencer, 2012). It is likely that the observed global warming is associated with another rise in solar activity, which may decline again in the future.
Another assumption states that the reason of global warming is a shift in the angle of the rotation axis of the Earth and its orbit. Cyclical climate changes are substantially associated with changes in the Earth’s orbit of rotation around the Sun as well as changes in the angle of inclination of the rotation axis of the Earth in relation to the Sun. These orbital shifts of the position and movement of the planet lead to a change in the radiation balance of the Earth and, consequently, its climate. Climate changes caused by alterations in the Earth’s orbit usually take place over dozens or even hundreds of thousands of years (Spencer, 2012). The relatively rapid climate change observed at the present moment apparently occurs as a result of some other factors.
The ocean is also considered to contribute to the global climate change. The World Ocean is a huge inertial accumulator of solar energy. It largely determines the direction and speed of the movement of warm oceanic waters as well as air masses on Earth, which greatly affects the planet’s climate.
Another cause of global warming is volcanic activity. Volcanic activity is a source of aerosols of sulfuric acid and large amounts of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere, which can also significantly affect the Earth’s climate. Large eruptions are also accompanied by a cooling effect due to the introduction of aerosols of sulfuric acid and soot particles into the atmosphere of the Earth (Spencer, 2012). Subsequently, incoming CO2 causes an increase in an average annual temperature on the Earth. The subsequent long-term decrease in volcanic activity contributes to the increase in the transparency of the atmosphere and hence the rise in the temperature on the planet.
Unknown interactions between the Sun and the planets of the solar system can also lead to global warming. In any system, there are connections between its components. Consequently, it is probable that the position of the planets in our solar system and the Sun impact both distribution and power of gravitational fields, solar energy, as well as other forms of energy. All connections and interactions between the Sun, planets, and the Earth have not been studied yet, and it is possible that they have a significant impact on the processes that take place in the atmosphere and hydrosphere of the Earth.
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The most popular hypothesis is that man is to blame. The high rate of climate change occurring in recent decades can indeed be explained by the ever-increasing intensification of anthropogenic activity, which has a significant impact on the chemical composition of the atmosphere of the planet thus increasing the amount of greenhouse gases (“What is global warming?”, 2018). Indeed, the increase in the average air temperature of the lower layers of the Earth’s atmosphere is too high for natural processes. The last decades have added even more weight to this argument since the changes in the average air temperature have occurred at even higher rates (Spencer, 2012). Nonetheless, climate change can take place by itself without any external influences and human activity. Planet Earth is such a large and complex system with a variety of structural elements that its global climatic features can exchange not altering solar activity and chemical composition of the atmosphere.
Consequences of Global Warming
Global warming can have a great negative impact on the world. It can lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions and surface air temperature as well as sea level rise. It will impact the lives of some animals. In particular, polar bears, seals and penguins will be forced to change their habitats as the current ones will simply melt. Global warming changes the weather on a global level (Goel & Bhatt, 2012, p.31). The growth in the amount of climatic cataclysms is expected. It can lead to longer periods of extremely hot weather. There will be more rain, but this will increase the likelihood of drought in many regions. There can be increased flooding due to hurricanes and rising sea levels. It will depend on the specific region.
The most likely changes in weather factors include more intense precipitation, higher maximum temperatures, increase in the number of hot days, and a decrease in the number of frosty days in almost all regions of the Earth. Moreover, heat waves will become more frequent in most continental areas. As a result of these changes, one can expect increased winds and higher intensity of tropical cyclones, rise in the frequency of heavy precipitation, and a marked expansion of drought areas (Spencer, 2012). Negative changes in Europe include increased temperatures and frequent droughts in the south resulting in reduced water resources and hydropower generation, poor agricultural output, deteriorated tourism conditions, less snow cover and retreat of mountain glaciers, increased risk of severe flooding and catastrophic floods on the rivers, higher frequency of forest fires, and increasing ground volatility in northern Europe. In the Arctic, there is a catastrophic decrease in the surface glaciation area, a reduction in sea ice, and increased coastal erosion. Some researchers offer a pessimistic forecast according to which a sharp jump in climate is possible in an unforeseen direction with the resultant occurrence of a new ice age lasting hundreds of years.
The process of global warming can be slowed down. The measures that are aimed at the reduction of the effects of global warming include higher prices for fossil fuels, replacement of fossil fuels with environmentally friendly ones (solar energy, wind and sea currents), as well as the development of energy-saving and waste-free technologies. Taxation imposed for emissions into the environment, minimization of methane losses during its production, transportation by pipelines, distribution in cities and villages, and applications on heat supply stations and power plants can also contribute to the slowing down of the processes of global warming. Moreover, it can be stopped through the introduction of carbon dioxide absorption and binding technologies, planting trees, and environmental education.
In the course of the development of civilization, mankind has repeatedly encountered difficult problems, sometimes of a planetary nature. However, it was a distant prehistory, a kind of incubation period of the contemporary global problems. These problems were fully manifested in the last quarter of the 20th century. One of the issues is global warming that is caused by many factors. They include volcanic eruptions, the behavior of the oceans, solar activity, the Earth’s magnetic field, and human activity. Global warming has negative consequences for nature and wildlife. Climate change threatens not only the natural world, but also humanity. In order to reduce the negative influence of global warming, specific measures should be urgently taken on national level.