The globe is experiencing an increase in temperatures as a result of the sources of energy used. Combustion of fossil fuels used in the transportation, production of electricity and production of cooking gas has led to the release of carbon dioxide that has a big hand in the global warming. Other green house gases are methane, Nitrous Oxide, Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s) and Trichlorozone.
These gases are released as a result of industrial activities as well as other engagements that human beings involve themselves in order to survive. Some of these activities are animal husbandry where these animals produce waste that releases methane to the atmosphere. In addition to this, rice farming has also been established as one of the ways that leads to emission of methane to the atmosphere.
The anaerobic activity that goes on in the flooded paddy fields is what leads to the build up of methane. Deforestation is another human activity that has led to the upward trend of global warming. Trees take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the atmosphere as photosynthesis takes place. Felling of trees makes the consumption of carbon dioxide decline such that a lot of the gas is left in the atmosphere. Green house gases trap the heat from the sun and then reflect it back to the earth instead of the heat going to the outer space.
Global warming is not without effect because plants animals and human beings are feeling its impact. The rise in temperature according to The Science Daily, has contributed to the formation of heat waves which have led to death of people in some regions. In Illinois, 1999, there was a heat wave that killed approximately 250 people in this eastern part of the United States. Temperatures soared to 119degrees Fahrenheit, making it impossible and uncomfortable for human existence.
Human beings died after catching diseases peculiar to the hot weather like cardiovascular diseases like arteriosclerosis. Other diseases fuelled by hot weather are respiratory diseases like Asthma which gets worse when there is dust or pollen in the atmosphere. In addition to this the waters become warmer and as a result hurricanes and typhoons like Katrina, build up leading to destruction of property as well as human lives(Barnett, Tim P., et al 59- 66). Global warming has a lot of effects that usually have ripple effects whereby more of these happen as a result of the primary ones.
The advent of global warming directly affects the rate at which vector borne disease are spreading because a rise in temperature means that is also an increase in evaporation of water into the atmosphere which is a prerequisite for the spread of these diseases (Epstein, Haines and McMichael, 3 ). Some of the vectors that thrive well in warm temperatures are mosquitoes and ticks. Cases of malaria have been on the rise with cases of infection being reported in highland areas that have always been cold.
For instance in the African continent and more specifically Kenyan highlands, temperatures have always been low and the climatic conditions have been non conducive for mosquitoes such that people occupying this region of the country were unexposed to malaria. Not only have malaria cases been reported in and Kenya but also in the neighboring country, Tanzania. There have been reported cases in the highlands surrounding the Ruwenzori Mountains. In the past few years the region has experienced a warmer temperature which is attributed to global warming. Dengue fever and yellow fever have been observed to be on the increase especially in western Africa and are spread of mosquitoes.
The West Nile disease is also another vector borne disease that is bacterial in nature and has made its way to the northern hemisphere. It is transmitted by the culex pipiens mosquito that does well in urban settlements. (Epstein). Studies have also shown that ticks are now flourishing in areas that were thought to be too cold for them to survive. They have been seen in the northern hemisphere regions like Canada and are spreading Lyme disease which is bacterial in nature.
According to the Science Daily, Global warming has contributed to the extra ordinary heavy downpour and landslides that are reported today. It usually affects the climate negatively whereby some areas get a lot of rainfall that is destructive while others lack it thereby causing spells of drought. In 1999, Venezuela experienced one of the worst disasters that emanated from floods and landslides that killed approximately 30,000 people. (Aston, Adam, and Burt Helm).
Such disasters of floods are normally followed by outbreaks of infectious diseases like cholera, dysentery and typhoid. Flood waters may cause the mixing of treated drinking water with the sewer water leading to the spread of these diseases. Treating the patients is also another activity that presents an economic cost by virtue of the fact that the sick are not able to engage themselves in any productive activities that would contribute to a country’s GDP. Another secondary or tertiary effect lies in the cost that treatment would impose on the government.
Another effect of global warming is the melting of glaciers and icecaps. In Venezuela again, of the six glaciers that existed in the Andes Mountains in 1972, only two are said to be still there. With reference to the works of Schubert C, four of them have since melted their way to the oceans and seas.(1999). Scientists believe that the remaining two glaciers will be gone in the next decade. In Kenya 92% the glacier named Lewis has melted away.
The melting of the glaciers and ice caps causes the volumes of the waters in the seas and oceans to rise drowning their shores and riverbeds. This there after destroys the homes of the people who had made homes and cultivated the riverbeds. Ice caps usually reflect back the sun’s rays from the earth’s surface and when all of it has melted it means that the rays from the sun get absorbed and only serve to increase the heat or temperatures of the globe.
In addition to the rise in the level of the waters in oceans and seas, the same become warmer making the conditions of some animals and species of fish inhabitable. As a result the animals like the bear, whales and crabs are forced to come out of hibernation earlier than usual because there is not a good reason for the animals to ‘go into sleep’ since hibernation serves the purpose of helping them survive through the cold season. Warm temperatures have rocked the Polar Regions and animals such as the polar bears have had their habitats altered. According to Dan Joling, researchers in Canada discovered a preyed on female polar bear that had been pounced on by a male soon after it had given birth to its cubs.2006.
Polar bears do not usually kill each other, however when it happens it is because this is nature’s way of controlling their population, they also kill each other when breeding because a dominant male has to remain but never for food. Studies have shown that for 34 years in Canada, Bears have not been noted as killing each other for food. Lack of sufficient food for the polar bears has forced them to prey on each other. The end result will be their extinction from the face of the earth.
In her study constituting of over 1700 species of plants and animals, Terry Root , a senior fellow at Stanford Institute, found out that the red fox and the Edith checker spot butterflies were no longer living in their natural habitats but had migrated to the northern regions which are higher in altitude. The black cooper butterfly whose niche was in Barcelona was also noted to have migrated further north. People in Spain have to make trips in order to get it.
Global warming has led not only to extinction of some animals but also of some types of vegetation especially that which is usually found in mountainous regions that are very cold. On the other hand vegetation that was considered as not able to withstand cold climates, have been seen to survive in those cold areas. This can be explained by the fact that the condition has become warmer and the new vegetation has replaced the previous one.
There has also been a change in the events of the lifecycles of both animals and crops. According to Terry L Root, birds are taking a shorter time to lay their eggs. There is a reduction also in the time taken for plants to bloom their flowers where the time has been shortened by 5-6 days. Experts have found out that the avocado and several species of wild potatoes stand the risk of extinction due to the warming temperatures. Some crops have adapted other features that make them hardy and able to survive in the harsh conditions.
Coral reefs have faded and been bleached by the sun because the green algae that is usually embedded on them is no longer seen to be there. The temperatures are not favorable for the growth of the plants. Examples of areas with bleached coral reefs are panama, Bermuda and Madagascar. The ocean waters have been found to have chemicals in them because of the reaction between the green house gases and the water. This has an adverse effect also on the coral reefs as it adds to the factors that expose coral reefs to bleaching and subsequent destruction. Other factors are the speed at which wind blows in the sea, temperatures at the sea surface and the solar radiation, Heavy rainfall has been found to have a big part in the bleaching.
El Niño which is known to be a result of the steady increase in temperature of the globe is believed to have led to coral reef bleaching. Examples of areas that have bleached coral reefs as a result of the El-Niño are Panama which according to Glynn and D Croz’, an excess of 50% have been killed, and Galapagos islands where there has been a “loss of reef structures”(8:182). The effects don’t just end there because the death of these coral reefs will lead to the extinction of the marine invertebrates and fish that depend on the coral reef structures food and shelter. Coral reefs are usually source of a tourist attraction in the event that they are destroyed a lot of revenue that would have been is foregone.
Wild fires are also associated with global warming whereby it has been discovered that the fires have been made worse by the warmer temperatures that are present now. Snow is said to have sometimes stopped further spreading of the fires. Since snow has melted over time aggravating the wildfires. California is one region that has gone through wild fires that have consumed people’s property and even lives. Parallel to this is the spread of the bark and the pine beetles. These insects thrive well in areas with warm temperatures. They are very destructive and once they set upon trees and other vegetation, the plants dry up making it even easier for the fire to spread. The wildfires are followed by an increase in their numbers since the temperatures become favorable for them.
National Security is one area that is affected by global warming. The latter as mentioned earlier has a hand in depletion of resources. On the other hand human population is rising and demanding more of these resources that are scarce. For instance due to warm temperatures and salinity of the waters some fish have reduced in number meaning that less can be consumed. The qualities of fisheries have deteriorated with time.
Rivers and lakes are drying up and this can only call for the civilians who may be from different inclinations and cultures to share them. Such instances have been ended up in civil wars and conflicts. Less developed countries have been going through such problems which usually manifest themselves as tribal clashes and cattle rustling. In Africa, just to illustrate, there are pastoralists who move with their animals in search of food and water for their animals.
Because of the kind of poor climate that is there, they start encroaching on other land that may be more fertile. Consequently, disagreements arise with people going for each others’ throats because they feel like their privacy has been infringed on. Such instances lead to loss of lives and property. It also results in displacement because some may claim ancestral ownership and wipe out those from other tribes of ethnic groups. Developed countries also stand to have conflicts because of global warming the only difference is that the problems they experience are just advanced. According to Jennifer Bowles reports that global warming has led to a drought around the Colorado River.
The drought has greatly reduced the accessibility of drinking water, water for farming as well as other domestic uses. Decision makers have had to find out which population should have their supply reduced in order to contain the problem. This has always been a contentious issue because arriving at the best choice would be a difficult task. The river serves approximately 19 million people in Southern California. This serves as an example of how conflicts are ignited because of scarcity of natural resources.
With the rise in population the demand for energy sources like oil, coal and gas is on a record high and the supply cannot meet the demand. The United States has been in conflict with Asian Countries because of the commodity. Some times the Asian countries have had to exchange some favors for their oil and have sometimes been in conflict over the terms of agreement. There has also been a concern over the war preparedness of the United States with the navy because global warming has led to unfavorable conditions for warships.
Border disputes have been seen to arise because the rise in sea and ocean levels has led to the submergence of some coastal lines and shores.() Bangladesh which is densely populated stands a risk of displacement of civilians because it is likely to be covered by water if the sea and ocean water levels continue to rise at the rate it that it is doing so. National security is at stake because of the negative environmental effects brought about by global warming.
Drought and famine coupled with sky rocketing population growth rate has forced the human being to search for food in forests and among the wild. Some people have poached wild animals for food while others have cultivated land in forests where weather conditions are favorable or due to lack of land somewhere else. This has led to an interaction between the wild and the human being. Studies show that the morbidity of human beings has been affected because diseases such as AIDS and Ebola were previously diseases of the wild. It has been established that these deadly viral diseases spread to the humans from the monkeys.
Monkey pox and rabies are other diseases that are passed from animals to humans. This impact is really great because diseases like Ebola and AIDS, if unchecked, threaten to wipe out mankind from the globe.
Global warming has had an impact on the Economy. Destruction that is as a result of disasters like hurricanes, heat waves droughts and storms, approximately costs the United States $11billion every year. This goes to the repair of infrastructure like bridges, and roads that are usually severely damaged. Additionally buildings are rebuilt or repaired and victims given medical attention as well as shelter incase their homes have been destroyed. In other countries especially third world countries, costs are incurred when conflicts such as tribal clashes occur. People lose their lives and property and also have to get medical attention.
Illnesses brought about by effects of global warming affect the economy of a country because the production levels decline. Most sectors are affected leading to a reduction in national output.
According to the European Environmental Agency, the rising global temperature does not entirely have bad effects. In Europe some birds have had their survival rate improve with the warming. This can be explained by the fact that when the temperatures are too low and snowy, the mortality rate of the birds is high. Additionally, cultivation has been made possible in the Northern part of Europe. More varieties of crops have been observed as doing well. However global warming has been known to have a two pronged effect because the southern part of Europe, as the agency reports, will have more incidences of heat waves, droughts and agricultural production will be poor.
In my opinion, leaders have failed to address this issue in a more serious manner. Leaders can play a great role in controlling the global warming because they are vested with authority over resources. They also have authority to propose statutes and laws that regulate activities of the people they lead. Global warming should be declared a global disaster and be addressed with such seriousness.
The world has only recently seemed to acknowledge the importance of the environment in the maintenance of peace because in 2005, the noble peace prize award went to Professor Wangari Maathai from Kenya for her hard work of reforestation in Kenya, through the Green Belt Movement that she founded. She is said to promote peace because of her realization that people got into conflicts because of scarcity of resources. Deforestation leads to the drying up of water catchment areas and when such water sources are no longer available, civilians engage themselves in fights because they have to share the little that is remaining.
There needs to be more of such events so as to encourage individuals to take it upon themselves to check on the global warming because the good and effective results will only start with the individual for instance the kind of fuel we use, the rate of reforestation when we cut down trees. For a long time leaders have not taken upon their shoulders the responsibility of addressing the issue of global warming.
Therefore all leaders should first of all abide by the regulations that are stipulated in meetings that are held by leaders with the objective of coming up with ways of mitigating effects of global warming. An example of this is the Kyoto Protocol which requires industrialized nations to minimize their emission of green house gases like methane and nitrous oxides by 5%. Leaders are very influential and can use this attribute to address the issue of global warming at local, national and international level.
The business community needs to consider their practices especially in manufacturing and commit themselves to the reduction of the green house gas emissions. Other sources of energy need to substitute the use of fossil fuels so that there can be a reduction in the release carbon dioxide. Examples of these include geothermal energy, wind and solar power as well as bio energy. Use of nuclear power is also another option but is not exploited because it would pose a threat to national security incase defiant parties use it for the wrong reasons like manufacture of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons would wipe out thousands of lives with one instance and its negative effects would be felt for thousands of years. (Union of Concerned Scientists).
According to these scientists the United States is accountable for about 25% of the green house gases that are released into the atmosphere. On the other hand it is home to only 5% of the global population, making it the largest air polluter in the world. This means that many people who do not have a hand in the emissions suffer the consequences. America should therefore be at the forefront showing its commitment to reduce these emissions which threaten the existence of mankind and other living things. The United States has actually shown commitment by the enactment of standards that stipulate the use of renewable electricity in 21 states.
Though the use of new technologies may be costly, the opportunity cost of not using them would be higher in terms of losing lives, destruction of infrastructure and buildings.
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