Global Warming: Solving a Social Problem

Global warming is the phenomenon that will melt the world’s glaciers and sea ice. The gradual rise of the Earth’s average surface temperature, due to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is called Global warming.

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Global warming maybe because of the cooling in some parts of the world. Global warming can slow down ocean heat transport which becomes the reason for cooling in some regions. Rainfall increases at high latitudes due to Global warming. Melting of northern hemisphere ice sheets will make surface waters fresher which reduces ocean heat transport. The northern Atlantic has already become less salty.

Global warming is the reason for a big chill in some parts of the world. It could soon trigger a dramatic and abrupt cooling throughout the North Atlantic region if the atmosphere continues to warm. 60 percent of the world’s economy is based in the North Atlantic region.

We have heard about greenhouse gases and the idea that our planet is gradually warming over the past two decades. Average winter temperatures may drop by 5 degrees Fahrenheit over in the United States, by 10 degrees in the northeastern United States and Europe. This drop will be enough to send mountain glaciers advancing down from the Alps, to freeze rivers and harbors and bind North Atlantic shipping lanes in ice, to disrupt the operation of ground and air transportation, to cause energy needs to soar exponentially, to force wholesale changes in agricultural practices and fisheries, to change the way we feed our populations. In short, the world, and the world economy, would be drastically different.

These changes may be happening within a decade and t may be remaining for hundreds of years. You could see the changes in your lifetime, and your grandchildren’s grandchildren will still be deal with them.

This is not something new. It has happened during the history of the Earth and it could happen again. Earth’s climate system has two main components- the atmosphere and the ocean. Storms, cold spells, or heat waves are the result of the Rapid changes in atmospheric circulation that play out over several days.

Similar disturbances are occurring in many years or decades or even millennia through the ocean. The ocean can store about 1,000 times more heat than the atmosphere. So changes in ocean circulation can set the stage for large-scale, long-term climate changes.

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The time for which a large amount of ice covers the large parts of the earth is called the “Ice age”. During an ice age, ice expands into areas away from the North and South poles. In the winter, snowfalls and accumulates. If the temperatures are not warm enough to melt the snow during summer, ice grows thicker and thicker each year. Eventually, under the pressure of its weight, a glacier flows downhill, bending and flowing around the many obstacles in its way.

Northern Europe was much colder than it is today during that era called the Little Ice Age. Glaciers spread outward and downward in the Alps. Winters, on average, were more severe. Farming was affected. Famine was frequent.

Abrupt European cooling In the 1730s and 1740s caused famine across Western Europe; this was especially in Ireland and France, where farmers depended on wheat and potatoes. This is known as the “forgotten famine” In Ireland. As many people died during the forgotten famine and many died during the famed potato famine of the 1840s.

It is difficult for people to move to other countries when droughts, floods, famines, and wars occur because National borders are less open. Populations of the small and poor countries are often unwelcome in richer countries. In the 1840s, more than 1 million Irish people emigrated because of the potato blight.

The US movie, The Day After Tomorrow has drawn attention worldwide to climate change and to the possibility that climate can undergo massive, extraordinarily rapid changes.

Global warming may cause the climate to change suddenly in the future, but the probability of this occurring in the next few decades is very low. Abrupt climate changes have occurred in the geological past.

Views of some scientists on the “next ice age” are-

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  1. G. Kukla (Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory) expects low orbital obliquity to warm the dark tropical oceans at the expense of polar regions, thereby increasing meridional vapor transport and glaciation. He argues that this natural pattern is consistent with the present warming. Based on interglacial at ~400,000 years ago.
  2. A. Berger and M. F. Loutre (Catholic University, Louvain, Belgium) estimate that the current interglacial would persist for another 14,000 years in the absence of anthropogenic forcing.
  3. L. Franzen (Goteborg University, Sweden) described how peatlands can modulate climate by storing carbon. He speculates that cosmic dust deposition alters climate through ocean fertilization and dimethyl sulfide emissions, and explains some of the observed millennial-scale variability such as the Little Ice Age.
  4. J. Sachs (University of Washington) used coccolithophores to infer significant North Atlantic slope water cooling during the Holocene, consistent with variations in Gulf Stream movements relative to the North American coast.

Abrupt climate change is a sudden, dramatic departure from the prevailing conditions. “When the climate system is forced to cross some threshold, triggering a transition to a new state at a rate determined by the climate system itself and faster than the cause”.The present orbit of the Earth and high concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere mean that a new Ice Age, with large ice sheets on northern hemisphere continents, is unlikely for thousands of years.

The average surface temperature of Earth is increasing. The continued increase could cause profound impacts on Earth and its inhabitants.

Glaciers.

The average surface temperature increased from the mid-1880s until about 1940, declined until about 1980, and has been increasing since then (Figure 2). Some believe that the current warming rate is unusually high, is being caused by the burning of fossil fuels that produce carbon dioxide (CO2), creating a greenhouse effect.

Direct instrumental temperature measurements.

The global temperature declined at least 10OC during the Ice Age (Pleistocene Epoch), which began two to three million years ago. The need to understand the Little Ice Age is important in being able to prepare and predict future weather patterns and their effect on society. Spanning over 500 years and killing countless humans and animals, the Little Ice Age took over the Earth and the livelihood of all those who inhabit it. Despite its duration and magnitude, humans living through the Little Ice Age did not know much about it and some did not know that it existed. Research has been undertaken by environmental change specialists and different scientists around the world to study this natural phenomenon.

The best way to improve the effectiveness of our response is to have more knowledge of what can happen—and how and when. Research into the causes, patterns, likelihood, and effects of abrupt climate change can help reduce our vulnerabilities and increase our ability to adapt.

If climate changes come abruptly, we will have less time to adjust. In other words, the more knowledge we have—the more reliably we can predict changes—the better our chances.

Maybe over the edge of the cliff, there’s just a three-inch drop-off. Or maybe there’s a big, fluffy bed full of pillows. I worry that we are indeed approaching this cliff blindfolded.

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By 2100, they claim, the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration will double, causing the average temperature on Earth to increase by 1.9°C to 5.2°C, and in the polar region by more than 12°C. Industrial pollution would bring about a new Ice Age. In 1971, the spiritual leader of the global warming prophets, Dr. Stephen H. Schneider from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, claimed that this pollution would soon reduce the global temperature by 3.5°C.1 His remarks were followed by more official statements from the National Science Board of the U.S. National Science Foundation.

The annual budget for climate research runs to $5 billion.6 It is interesting that in the United States, most of this money goes toward discovering the change of global climate and its causes, while Europeans believe that man-made warming is already on, and spend money mostly on studying the effects of warming.

Governments of many countries (but not the United States, Australia, or Russia) signed the infamous Kyoto Protocol, which is aimed at the mandatory reduction of oil, coal, and gas combustion. Should this convention be universally implemented, the drop in world temperature would be hardly perceptible.

By 2050, in Western Europe and Japan, the Gross National Product would be reduced by 0.5 percent in comparison with 1994; in Eastern Europe, this reduction would reach 3 percent, and in Russia 3.4 percent.

This nuclear heat, however, plays a minor role among the terrestrial factors, in comparison with the “greenhouse effects” caused by absorption by some atmospheric gases of the solar radiation reflected from the surface of the Earth. Without the greenhouse effect, the average near-surface air temperature would be –18°C, and not +15°C, as it is now. The most important among these “greenhouse gases” is water vapor, which is responsible for about 96 to 99 percent of the greenhouse effect. Among the other greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, CFCs, N2O, and O3), the most important is CO2, which contributes only 3 percent to the total greenhouse effect. The manmade CO2 contribution to this effect may be about 0.05 to 0.25 percent.

Now we are near the middle of the Sun’s lifetime, about 5 billion years since its formation, and about 7 billion years before its final contraction into a hot white dwarf, the heat of which will smother the Earth, killing all life. At the start of Sun’s career, its irradiance was about 30 percent lower than it is now. This probably was one of the reasons for the Precambrian cold periods.

At higher CO2 concentrations and higher temperatures, the productivity of the Arctic ecological system always rises. Historic records and modern statistics show that in warmer periods, more fish have been caught in the Barents Sea, and the populations of reindeer, birds, seals, and bears also expanded. Overland, the mass of vegetation for reindeer increased, and in the sea, plankton became more plentiful. This allowed the fish population to increase, expanding food resources for birds and seals, which, in turn, are eaten by polar bears. In conclusion: Climate warming would be beneficial for the whole system of life in the Arctic, and polar bears would be more numerous than today.

Bashkirtsev and Mishnich expect that the minimum of the secular cycle of solar activity will occur between 2021 and 2026, which will result in the minimum global temperature of the surface air. The shift from warm to cool climate might have already started.

Global fossil carbon emissions.
Now Greenland and the Arctic are melting.
Temperatures may have peaked.

Russian Academy of Science has warned of an imminent recurrence of a minor Ice Age, age similar to the one in the 17th century, when temperatures dropped in Europe, North America, and Greenland, the Thames and Dutch canals froze in winter, and people fled from Greenland because of unbearable cold and crop failures were common.

Also, it does not seem possible that we will ever gain influence over the Sun’s activity. However, I think that in the next centuries we shall learn to control sea currents and clouds, and this could be sufficient to govern the climate of our planet.

Will mankind be able to protect the biosphere against the next returning Ice Age? It depends on how much time we still have. I do not think that in the next 50 years we would acquire the knowledge and resources sufficient for governing climate on a global scale. Surely we shall not stop climate cooling by increasing industrial CO2 emissions. Even with the doubling of CO2 atmospheric levels, the increase in global surface air temperature would be trifling.

It is difficult to predict the advent of the new Ice Age—the time when continental glaciers will start to cover Scandinavia, Central, and Northern Europe, Asia, Canada, the United States, Chile, and Argentina with an ice layer hundreds and thousands of meters thick; when mountain glaciers in the Himalayas, Andes, and the Alps, in Africa and Indonesia, once again will descend into the valleys. Some climatologists claim that this will happen in 50 to 150 years.

The strongest fears of the population concern the melting of mountain glaciers and parts of Greenland and Antarctic continental glaciers, which supposedly would lead to a rise in the oceanic level by 29 centimeters in 2030 and by 71 cm in 2070. Some forecasts predict that this increase in ocean levels could reach even 367 cm. In this view, islands, coastal regions, and large metropolitan cities would be flooded, and whole nations would be forced to migrate. On October 10, 1991, The New York Times announced that as soon as 2000, the rising ocean level would compel the emigration of a few million people.

For many years we have been taught that climate warming will cause a series of disasters: ocean level rise, Arctic ecological disaster, droughts and floods, agriculture catastrophes, rising numbers and violence of hurricanes, epidemics of infectious and parasitic diseases, and so on. The impacts of warming, so it seems, must be always negative, never positive. But is it so?

As a society, we must face the potential for abrupt climate change. Perhaps we can mitigate the changes. If not, at least we can still take steps to adapt to them. The approaching new Ice Age poses a real challenge for mankind, much greater than all the other challenges in history.

References

  1. Rosebud, “global warming”. Web.
  2. John P. Bluemle,Linda, “Global Warming: A Geological Perspective”. Web.
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