Global Warming Essay

2544 words - 10 pages

Global warming is the gradual heating of the Earth and its atmosphere. Every ecosystem on the planet has been or will be affected by this process. Many signs have already been detected and the evidence shows it will get exponentially worse if there is not a dramatic change. Glaciers are melting, lakes and rivers are lessening, coastal areas are eroding, corals are dying, forest fires are spreading, and wildlife is forced into migrating and fighting for survival. These are some major effects of the global climate rising one degree Fahrenheit over the past century. Simon Tett, a Hadley Centre climate specialist from the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research says "We'll have a better idea of the actual changes in thirty years. But it's going to be a very different world"(Morell, p.75). Temperatures will continues to rise in the future, magnifying the environmental problems it causes.The driving factor in global warming is the increase of greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide is the main contributor, but it also includes mercury, nitrous oxide, chlorofluorocarbons, methane, and others. More is being released into the atmosphere than ever in the history of human existence. Research that has been done up to this point shows that humans are the main cause of this phenomenon. These gases are released mainly through deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas. Scientists have measured the amount of carbon in many areas around the world with the use of airplanes, weather stations, and ships. They found the carbon levels, mainly in the atmosphere and ocean water, have risen all over the planet. The Northern Hemisphere has become a larger sink for carbon because this is where most cars are driven and industry takes place. This larger excess of carbon cannot be completely filtered through plants and oceans. Plants prefer a lighter form of carbon called carbon 12. The common carbon 13 isotope is then rejected and is forced to retreat into the atmosphere, causing a great buildup and more warming. Higher temperatures cause a reduced ability of the oceans to effectively dissolve carbon dioxide (leading to more acidic ocean water), a quicker decomposition cycle, and widespread forest fires. Permafrost, which contains about 14% of the world's carbon, is at risk of thawing. Forests are being burned or eaten by new insect predators. These are all major contributors to the carbon increase.Despite all the evidence pointing towards people as the primary cause, there is controversy questioning the possibility that this is the result of a natural cycle. Throughout the past two and a half million years, the Earth has had many ice ages followed by a warming period. From two and a half million years ago to one million years ago, there was a forty one thousand year ice age cycle. For the past million years it has changed to a one hundred thousand year cycle. The Earth's axis spins on a tilt in its orbit in space. The fluctuation of...

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