Globalization and Global Warming
Memorandum This memo serves as an informative and analytical document discussing globalizations largest threat – global warming. I will address the following issues: • What is global warming and how is it being caused? • Who is contributing to its advancement? • The threats and consequences of global warming • Recommendations we can do to slow global warming Global Warming and It’s Cause Global warming could have started as early as the 1860’s due to the Industrial Revolution that began after the Civil War. This was a time of invention and creation; where man made machine and machine changed society.
Not only did the machine change society, but it also changed the atmospheric gases – more specifically, greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases consist of carbon dioxide – known to cause the greatest amount of global warming – methane gas, ozone, and nitrous oxide. These four greenhouse gases act as a blanket over the surface of the earth. As the sun hits the earth’s surface, the heat is reflected back towards the sun. The heat is then contained by the greenhouse gas blanket and warms the earth. Without this blanket, we would live in a very cold world.
This atmospheric balance the earth provides is currently being tested by man. What happens when we expel our own greenhouse gases? The ‘blanket’ thickens and it traps in more heat. This extra heat upon the earth’s surface is known as global warming. Therefore, global warming can be defined as the effect that increased greenhouse gases have on the earth’s atmosphere. The increase of greenhouse gases are the result of two economical factors: the burning of fossil fuels for energy, and deforestation for industrialization. The first factor contributes to the majority of the xpelled greenhouse gases – that is: The Burning of Fossil Fuels As globalization spreads and increases industry, it also increases the deposit of polluting gases into the atmosphere. One such gas is carbon dioxide. The release of CO2 is more specifically caused from the burning of oil, coal, and gas. These three natural fuels, which are used in manufacturing and industrial growth, have constituted roughly 75% of human generated CO2 emissions expelled into the atmosphere during the past 20 years (IPCC WGI). Here is a graph supporting the increases of CO2:
Indicators of the human influence on the atmosphere during the Industrial era [pic] (IPCC Chart 1) As you can see, this graph stops in the year 2000. Assuming there was an energy increase in the past 6 years by rapidly developing nations such as China and India, along with developed nations consistent energy use, we can also assume the CO2 concentration has continued its vertical climb. Deforestation The destruction or clearing (as some companies might put it) of the worlds’ forests are due in most part to agricultural needs and industrialization.
Why scientistists agree that this practice is detrimental to the enviroment can be summed up in two ways: 1. trees act like sponges that suck in carbon dioxide and convert it to oxygen 2. when trees are burned, they release the stored carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere, adding to the pollution Hence, the more trees that are burned, the less carbon dioxide gets harbored. According to Greenpeace, “Thirty percent of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere over the past 150 years is thought to come from deforestation, but this is a small amount compared to what is still stored in forests.
The Canadian and Russian boreal forests alone hold 40 percent of the world’s carbon stocks” (Greenpeace Science). In other areas of the world, carbon stocks are not being contained, but continually released through deforestation. Global Forest Watch, an independent oprganization that provides current information on forest development stated: “In 2002, about 47% of the Brazilian Amazon was under some type of human pressure; recent estimates comparing this figure with new data from 2005 show that human pressure has increased by 7%” (Global forest watch).
Not only are we losing the possibility of finding rare tropical plants that could be converted into pharmaceuticals, but we are also destroying indigenous communities that dot the Amazon rainforest. It is understandable that deforestation is need for civilization, but there are ways we can curb its destruction and preserve the rainforests. Contributors of Global Warming If your means of transportation today did not consist of walking or riding a bike, chances are, you contributed to the burning of fossil fuels. Americans would not be able to survive without the use of fossil fuels.
We produce them in our cars, our homes, and even in our waste. The bottom line is: fossil fuels create energy, and we need energy. So, it is not surprising that Americans are responsible for 25% of the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere, despite having only 5% of the world’s population. (Stix 47) This makes America the largest polluter in the world. It is evident that when a country becomes a world leader through Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the focus becomes business. The need for business profits by corporations apitalizing on industry have an impact on the environment. Unfortunately, many industries do not take into consideration the effects their business has on the environment. Below is a chart comparing three countries – the United States, Former Soviet Union, and Japan – and their CO2 emissions: [pic] (IPCC Chart 2) In 2005 according to the CIA World Factbook, these same three countries had GDP’s of $12. 3 trillion, $4 trillion, and $1. 6 trillion respectively (GDP). While the U. S. has nearly doubled it’s GDP, you can bet as a developed nation, it has also increased it CO2 emissions.
But, developed countries like the United States and Japan can’t be blamed for emitting all the CO2 into the atmosphere due to their industrialization. We must also look at developing countries such as China and Brazil who, while aspiring to increase their standard of living, are also increasing their energy use. As these nations develop and increase their industrialization, they inturn release substantial amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. With the ever-increasing CO2 emissions and deforestation, what does it mean for the stability of our enviroment? The Threats and Consequences of Global Warming?
The aforementioned greenhouse gas emissions and the deforestation process have been contributing to the global warming crisis. The most recent supporting evidence was reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Control (IPCC) in 2001. Established in 1988 due to climate change curiosity, the IPCC is composed of over 2,000 scientists and is regarded as the foremost authority on climate change by the United Nations (Wikipedia IPCC). They concluded, through a 2600 page comprehensive analysis of scientific research, that global warming is in fact caused by CO2 emissions and eforestation. According to the IPCC, the two primary factors of global warming are temperature and sea level. Using the latest research and the current trends in global warming, the IPCC predictions through the end of the 21st century are as follows (IPCC SPM): • A rise of global temperatures from 2. 5° to 10. 4° F • A rise of Sea levels from 4″ to 3′ Rising of Global Temperature The effects of this variable are quite profound. Scientists predict it could increase the frequency and magnitude of hurricanes; similar to what happened on the U. S. ’s Gulf Coast in the fall of 2005.
They predict it could also do the same to El Nino; which is felt on the west coast – especially in Southern California. Southern California’s fire season begins towards the end of summer, due to the dry climate. In the fall of 2002, San Diego felt the effects of an out-of-control fire. What started as human error, continued for weeks, as brush and forest fires tore through San Diego Country. Its duration and strength was assisted by warm El Nino winds. Since El Nino thrives from available heat, you could say global warming is feeding El Nino’s hunger.
In 1998 National Geographic had this to say about El Nino: El Nino’s abnormal effects on the main components of climate—sunshine, temperature, atmospheric pressure, wind, humidity, precipitation, cloud formation and ocean currents—changed weather patterns across the equatorial Pacific and in turn around the globe… In the past 98 years there have been 23 El Ninos and 15 La Ninas. Of the century’s ten most powerful El Ninos, four—the four strongest—have occurred since 1980. (Suplee) Considering it is possible global warming energizes the climate event El Nino, it can also melt glaciers.
A widespread retreat of non-polar glaciers during the 20th century, and a 10% decrease in world snow cover since the 1960’s was captured by satellite imagery; the shrinking of snow cover and the retreat of glaciers are not expected to slow down during the 21st century (IPCC SPM). Researchers agree that melting glaciers coupled with melting ice sheets, like those covering Antarctica and Greenland, will become significant factors in causing the sea levels to rise. Rising Sea Levels Rising sea levels could devastate coastal tourism spots. This may become a very costly problem for coastal cities.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated a one foot rise along the eastern seaboard by 2050. According to researchers, if this rise were to occur on the west coast, which is more likely than not, California would lose 2-4 feet of beach due to erosion. [pic] (IPCC Chart 3) The EPA also had this to say about rising sea levels: Rising sea level inundates wetlands and other low-lying lands, erodes beaches, intensifies flooding, and increases the salinity of rivers, bays, and groundwater tables. Some of these effects may be further compounded by other effects of changing climate.
Measures that people take to protect private property from rising sea level may have adverse effects on the environment and on public uses of beaches and waterways. (EPA) Even though the damage to the U. S. ’s coastline would be expensive, planet earth has over 4 billion people outside the U. S. that live on a coastal plain. (Greenpeace Going) Rising sea levels could completely demolish low-lying coastal cities around the world: New York, Miami, Tokyo, San Diego, and London are a few such cities that could experience rising sea levels first-hand.
Poor, undeveloped countries that lack technology, would be the ones to lose entire populations from a force that is beyond their control. What can we do to stop this rising tide? Recommendations to Slow Global Warming • Adhere to the Kyoto Protocol • Increase forestation Kyoto Protocol The Kyoto Protocol, which began in 1997, has developed an international treaty to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The overall goal is for countries to lower these emissions to 1990 levels by 2008. For the policies to take effect, 55 countries that accounted for at least 55% of the greenhouse gas emissions in 1990 must ratify the protocol.
The founders of the Kyoto Protocol – United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), require countries that have ratified the protocol to: • Enhance energy efficiency methods on the countries largest polluters • Tax economic sectors that are the countries largest polluters • Research, develop, and implement new forms of energy • Promote forestation (UNFCCC) Only a few countries have said “no” to this protocol. Unfortunately, the United States is one of those countries. As a world leader, we should ratify the Kyoto Protocol and enforce its requirements on our industry.
Our government could give tax cuts for companies utilizing new technology with a low-carbon output. This technology could be in the form of: hydro-electric, wind, or solar power. We could also enforce strict pollution policies to regulate and limit what can be released into the environment. Other enforcements could be directed at absorbing the CO2 in the atmosphere through forestation. Increase Forestation Forests act as sponges to suck up, or decrease, the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Curtailing the lumber and logging industry in the U. S. is a first step towards increasing forestation.
This is especially true of the industries in and around the Amazon. Because rainforests are denser than ordinary forests, they absorb much more carbon dioxide. Plus, the rainforests trap in precipitation to prevent flooding, and preserve bio-diversity and indigenous cultures. Another, more realistic approach is to plant trees and re-grow the forests. One example of this approach is happening in China. Due to deforestation, the Chinese government requires those between the ages of 11 and 60 to plant up to 5 trees per year; they claim to have planted 1 billion trees in the past 20 years. (Wikipedia Deforestation)
Conclusion Global warming affects everyone; it has no boundaries. It is not intended to directly harm other cultures and peoples, but it inadvertently does through continually disregard for the environment. This disregard happens when nations become industrialized: more specifically – from burning fossil fuels and the deforestation process. But, we do have the power of choice. The citizens of the United States should step forward and assume responsibility. It is our duty to contribute to the reduction of global warming by regulating our CO2 emissions, and even becoming aware of our paper consumption.
With the assist of other developed nations, we should be implementing energy-efficient technologies and practices to deter our current pollution. These technologies might come at a high price. But, in the long run, it could reduce the costs and damages associated with the foreseeable climate change. Works Cited CIA World Factbook. “List of countries by GDP (PPP). ” Wikipedia. 2006. 18 Sept. 2006 EPA. “Coastal Zones. ” Environmental Protection Agency. Jan. 2000. 15 Sept. 2006 Greenpeace. “Going, Going, Gone?. ” Greenpeace.
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