The Causes And Effects Of Global Warming

2747 words - 11 pages

This paper was written for a Global Issues class. It includes an introduction, a section which explains what the greenhouse effect is and a section on evidence that suggests it is occurring. It explains the effects of global warming, including the impact on ecosystems, animal species, plant species, and human species. The paper ends by offering possible solutions, and a conclusion. Also includes 2 references.IntroductionGlobal warming is easiest described as "human-induced climate change" (Lutz, 3). It occurs because of a buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Many factors contribute to the abundance of these gases. Global warming is expected to increase the average temperature of the Earth's surface, raise sea levels, and change precipitation patterns (Lutz, 3). There are many potential impacts of these changes. The Earth could see an increase in extreme weather and will have impacts on humans, animals, and ecosystems (Lutz 24, Godrej 4).There is a lot of uncertainty as to how much and how fast the climate will change (Lutz, 3). There is also debate about how serious the consequences will be (Lutz, 5). Since all of the nations in the world contribute equally to the emissions of greenhouse gases (Lutz 15), the solution will have to come on a global basis (Godrej 4).The Greenhouse EffectThe greenhouse effect is rather simple to understand. Take the name, greenhouse effect. Think of the Earth as one big greenhouse. The glass walls of a greenhouse let light in, but trap heat inside. The atmosphere constitutes the glass walls (Lutz, 3). This is a natural occurrence. There are gases in the atmosphere that let in light from the sun, but absorb the outgoing heat from the Earth's surface and emit that heat in all directions (Lutz, 3).Greenhouse gases make up less than 1% of the Earth's total atmosphere (Lutz, 5). The most important greenhouse gas is water vapor (Godrej 24). Water vapor is not directly affected by human activity, but an increase in the other gases creates more surface heat, resulting in the evaporation of more water into the atmosphere (Lutz, 5). Research has shown that this has already begun to happen, with a 2% increase in the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere (Godrej 26). Other important greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and halocarbons (Lutz, 5).The burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, natural gas (Lutz, 3), and tropical deforestation are the main factors in the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (Lutz, 5). Humans first contributed to the rise of carbon dioxide when they began cutting down the rainforests. This continues today, as only half the original tropical forests still exist on Earth (Lutz 156, Godrej 27, 82). The burning of fossil fuels became the largest factor in the release of carbon dioxide during the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century (Lutz, 5). Carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for a long time, since it is not removed by chemical processes but by...

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