Arguably one of the most oft debated topics in recent years, the effects of global warming pose a threat to the world economy. Growth in the economy can spur changes in climate that have the ability to prove both beneficial and impeding to economic prosperity. An understanding of economic principals can provide insight onto the costs that are incurred with growth of industry and the methods that can be implemented to cede further negative effects.
Global warming, by definition, is an increase in the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans. With the rise in modern technology, the average temperature of the Earth’s surface has increased about 1.4 °F; two-thirds of which has arisen since the early 1980’s. Industrialized countries are major contributors to climate change, due in part to their involvement in deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels. These activities lead to an increase in levels of greenhouse gases, which scientists propose is the number one cause of global warming.
The greenhouse effect is an example of external forcing: any process that has influence over climate, outside of the climate system. When infrared radiation is emitted and absorbed into the atmosphere, the greenhouse effect occurs. The absorption by the outer layer, in turn, increases the temperature of the lower atmosphere and the Earth’s surface. While some greenhouse gases occur naturally, the increase in industrial production has led to higher levels of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. The burning of fossil fuels has led to a higher concentration of carbon dioxide.
With the rapid change in the economy over the last 30 years, the levels of greenhouse gases have risen significantly. Concentrations of greenhouse gases have rise 150 ppm since the Industrial Revolution (Stern). This growth is spurred by factors such as population growth and gross domestic product per capita. The growth in emissions is measured by a system known as the Kaya identity, which analyzes the factors that contribute to the increase in greenhouse gases.
The Kaya identity is a mathematical formula that examines the effect of human activity on the environment. It does so by measuring the amount of carbon dioxide, an emission of greenhouse gas. The products needed to determine these levels include gross domestic product per capita, population, carbon emissions per unit of energy, and energy use per gross domestic product. This system is especially useful in determining the future effects of human industry on the atmosphere. By utilizing the proposed carbon dioxide emission, it can be helpful in climate models which predict future levels of emission and the effect on global warming.
While it may not be entirely possible to reverse the harmful effects of global warming on the Earth, scientists and economists agree that there is the possibility to slow the trend. Human activity has shown to be a root contributor to the rise in greenhouse gas emission, and, as a...